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THE BLIND CHATELAINE'S KEYS Her Biography Through Your Poetics by Eileen Tabios

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THE BLIND CHATELAINE'S KEYS Her Biography Through Your Poetics Eileen Tabios BlazeVOX [books]

The Blind Chatelaine's Keys takes its impetus from three impossibilities: (i) biography (and autobiography)—something is always left out, (ii) artistic criticism—the critic's subjectivity inevitably comes to play, and (iii) pure persona in poems—the poet's self remains a presence no matter how much a poet may wish to disrupt the “I”.

Eileen R. Tabios, known as “Chatelaine” in poetry blogland, uses others' criticisms and engagements of her writings to create a narrative arc that serves as a biography.   Since the biography is based (mostly) on her poems, it conceptually pushes the idea summed up by Ted Berrigan: “there is a self inside almost all of the poems”.

The Blind Chatelaine's Keys is also a poetics, but laid out by others based on Tabios' poems. Not only is this ideal as one doesn't want to apply proscriptive paradigms on art, but, according to Tabios, it reflects the way of “Kapwa”—a Filipino cultural concept of interconnectedness whereby other people are not “others” but part of what one is . The featured critical engagements were also chosen for what the reviews say about their authors.   The results address the Chatelaine's core poetics: while Rimbaud says, “I is Another,” the Chatelaine cheerfully notes, “Moi is all about Toi.”

Respondents to Tabios' poems include Juaniyo Arcellana, Andrea Baker, Anny Ballardini, Tom Beckett, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Allen Bramhall, Ric Carfagna, Clayton Couch, Garin Cycholl, Thomas Fink, Allen Gaborro, Jesse Glass, Aileen Ibardaloza, Laurel Johnson, Burt Kimmelman, Leza Lowitz, Nicholas Manning, Chris Murray, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Roger Pao, Guillermo Parra, Jonah Raskin, Sam Rasnake, Barbara Jane Reyes, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Ron Silliman, k. terumi shorb, Leny M. Strobel, Annabelle Udo, Jean Vengua, Benito "Sunny" Vergara, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, and Alfred A. Yuson.

When Tabios finally speaks for herself—it is to inaugurate a new poetic form: the “haybun.”   While this form is inspired by the “haibun” associated with Basho, the “haybun” relies on the “hay(na)ku”.   The “hay(na)ku” is an earlier invention by Tabios which has become a popular 21 st century form, undertaken by numerous poets worldwide.   Through the haybun, Tabios offers a memoir of a failed adoption attempt, “Looking for M.”, which has been praised by adoption professionals, including:

“‘Looking for M.' is not just deeply moving but also educational about one of the most complicated difficulties in adoption attempts: reactive attachment disorder.  Eileen Tabios reveals her psychic wounds to educate the public about the potentially dire consequences of orphanhood. M.'s story is the story of so many orphans whose interior lives are often invisible.   Ms. Tabios gives them a voice through poems I read over and over, saddened that the emotions I feel become physical.”

—Sherrell J. Goolsby, Executive Director of World Child International


Tabios … is offering another possibility beyond narrative and the lyric in poetry.—Feminist Review

[Tabios' poems] explore the murky boundaries between colonization and identity.—Publishers' Weekly

Eileen Tabios has an enormous tonal range in her poetry. A breathless intensity may be her most characteristic mode. —kultureflash: Headlines From London

able to narrate the political implications of place and identity without giving up the desirous, inquisitive or uncertain nature of human interactions…these poems consistently demonstrate a devotion to the life of the pronouns which people them. —St. Marks Poetry Project Newsletter

For [Tabios], poetry is the only way to live, and she intends to suck the marrow and everything else out of it. —The Philippine Star

Eileen Tabios is pharmaceutical be easily of building up his/her mountain Tabios' pseudo-romantic indoctrination the World of reader. I dug it, yo. —Jukka-Pekka Kervinen's Blurb Machine


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About the "Author"

Eileen R. Tabios has released 15 print, four electronic and 1 CD poetry collections, an art essay collection, a poetry essay/interview anthology, a short story book and a novel.   Forthcoming in 2009-2010 are ROSARY OF THORNS: SELECTED PROSE POEMS 1998-2008 , edited by poet-critic-painter-scholar Thomas Fink, as well as a new poetry collection NOTA BENE .   In her poetry, she has crafted a body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. She's also edited or co-edited five books of poetry, fiction and essays. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, Portuguese, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Modern Dance and Sculpture. She blogs as the “Chatelaine” at and edits GALATEA RESURRECTS , a popular poetry review journal at http://galatear Often, she is also known as Anonymous.


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