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Book Review

The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I

The Secret Lives of Punctuations
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I
by Eileen R. Tabios
ISBN 952-99702-0-X
176 pages at 14.95 paperback
Tatartie 3 A 4
02620 Espoo , Finland

Eileen R. Tabios has too many qualifications to mention them all here.  Notably, ten books of personal poetry have been published to date; she has edited or co-edited five books of poetry, fiction, and essays; her internationally recognized blog can be found at http://angelicpoker.blogspot .com; and she oversees Meritage Press, a multidisciplinary arts and literary project.  In this book she's applied her skills as poet, conceptual/performance and visual artist as she contemplates punctuation.  Her thought processes here are cubist, not linear.  That is, the song is what we think it to be and reality is a concept as varied as the beholders.

Tabios follows a less-traveled path here as she investigates the effects of semi colons, colons, parentheses, ellipses, strikethroughs, and question marks on words and readers.  She brings punctuation marks out of  near-invisibility by bringing them into the foreground.  Like Eve Ascheim's powerful, understated cover art, Tabios' work here is a mirror that both hides and reveals.

Think about the following examples.  Open your mind and let your imagination refocus.

;  The Second Last Chance

; rough skin a map
; allowing entry for what a lover represents
; the glue of ifs
; on edge through a silver lash
; overhearing the language shared by a toddler and a stuffed
; unfurling an antique wedding veil
; bone

:  Wild

: the all-consuming business of prehistoric histrionics
: refusing to believe math is synonymous with description
: place becomes person
: sodden tissue balled up into a small, dead bird
: fleshing out the ghosts of unicorns
: a complexion formed from miles and miles of bad and bad
: "dreadlocks"

In a section titled "The Masvikiru Quatrains," Tabios addresses implied meanings and forms.  These revelations of the mind's eye were inspired by Finnish poet and composer Jukka-Pekka Kervinen's computer generated soundscapes, based more on word sound than meaning.  In these quatrains comprised of seemingly unrelated words, the blending and cadence of sound is meaningful when read aloud.  Incredibly, The Masvikiru Quatrains are ekphrasis, inspired by studying Shona sculpture.

Ms. Tabios' work in this book is scholarly in nature, yet enlightening and understandable once the reader's mind is opened to it.  At the end of the book is a space for each reader to write their thoughts in the form of a blurb as feedback for the author and publisher.  You've just read mine.

© Laurel Johnson

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