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Saturday, April 27, 2013


The following untitled piece is my first piece of writing.  I’m not sure but I think I wrote it when I was about  two years old.  With this blog post, I am humbled to offer the world release of this historic work:

The grass is green.

The sun is out shining.

The sun burnt the grass.

I know—so young, and already I had a dark side!  Anyway, this piece of writing is also the text to my first book!  Entonces, I thought  to make a mini-book replicating this first book, a 1/1 edition which I’m sure no longer exists—it was left behind in Baguio City, Philippines where I grew up as a youngster.

By the way, I know of my first book not because I remember writing it.  I just grew up hearing my mom’s recollection of the incident.  After I read my words to her, my mother apparently played along with much enthusiastic encouragement.  She even helped me fashion bookshelves from shoe boxes for more books!

So, this mini-book, My First Book, is the first replication of what I created when I was a toddler.  When I began SitWithMoi, I thought I would create such a book, but only was moved finally to do so when I received a card announcement of an exhibition of Larry Poons paintings at Danese, New York.  I thought the reproduced painting was so gorgeous that I wanted to use it as the cover to My First Book:

The card was large enough to be folded into front and back covers as well as the verso cover pages to a 2” x 1.5” book:

You would open the book to see the title page

You then would turn the page to a page with a green highlighter scrawl (I didn't have crayons around so used highlighters instead) at the bottom of the page.  That’s right—I didn’t use words to write my first book.  I don’t think I knew how to write then.  But I obviously could conceptualize.  So I scribbled green across the page and would interpret it to Mom as “The grass is green”

You’d turn the page to see similar treatment—yellow highlighter blob atop page—that I would interpret as “The sun is out shining”

And you’d turn the page to see brown crayola (I did find a brown crayon) on the bottom of the page for my interpretation, “The sun burnt the grass”

The colors unfortunately bleed through the slim pages – but that’s okay as that allowed me to create a summary of the story:

Having gotten this far in making this book, I was feeling so pleased with it that I decided it deserves an author photo!  And so I went through my mother’s stuff because I knew she had childhood photos of me.  I decided on this one—I was at elementary school:

I chose that photo because of what Mom wrote on its back, which so displayed the love and pride she felt for me … not just for me but for all her children; she was a very encouraging parent:

Eileen, on their promotional program. The little rolled paper is her “diploma”.  It is a paper with 3 sentences bearing the best wishes of her teachers and the principal. I think she is almost 5 feet tall now.

I remember those white shoes in the photo (white shoes! How retro!). I was so happy Mom got me the pair, and so pleased with moiself for having them J

Anyway, as I would say in an Author's Note in the book, I dedicate the book to my mother, Beatriz Tilan Tabios, for all of her encouragement to me.

So, where shall we “shelve” my first book?  I think on a white chair to match those white shoes!  Let’s shelve it on Eero Saarinen’s “Pedestal Chair”! Place it on a pedestal, indeed!

I’m delighted I can share this project now.  I’ve been relatively silent on blogs recently as I got caught up in both an autobiography-in-progress as well as finishing a new short story that, respectively, are on and inspired by Mom.  I really miss her. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


And this is another Poems-For-All booklet from the generous gift of curator Richard Hansen! This mini-book features a witty short story entitled EDOUARD'S NOSE by Greg Boyd: 

Because the interior just features the text, I thought I'd just replicate the text here for easier reading.  Here it is--enjoy reading! 
Edouard doesn't have a head. A torso and limbs, but no head. Facial features in the middle of his back. He smokes a pipe, which he keeps in his mouth most of th etime because it's awkward for him to reach his arms around to the middle of his back. "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," painted Magritte, an allusion to the idea that symbol does not necessarily correspond to the actual physical reality it's intended to represent. Same goes for the word nose and for the name Edouard, etc.

So much for background information. One day Edouard decided to take a walk. He put his nose on a leash and set out for the park. By the artificial lake he shared a bench with a woman with only one leg. "May I pet your nose?" she asked.

"Certainly," he replied, "but be careful, he's not always nice. Would you like a Kleenex?" he added, taking one out of the box he carried with him."

"No, thanks, I'm on a diet," she said, so he ate it himself as she stroked his nose. "Nice nose," she said when it dripped on her hand.

She caught him staring at her missing leg, though there was nothing to stare at. "It's an old football injury," she explained, pointing at the nothing. "By the way, if you don't mind, if it's not too personal, what happened to your head?"

"Problem with my nose. Complications in surgery. Had to amputate," Edouard sighed and lit his pipe. "Dreadful business."

They talked like this for several minutes. By chance they met again in the same place the next day. In time they became lovers. She started wearing more revealing clothes and got her nose pierced. He took up Tarot card reading as an exotic hobby. They rode nude together on a bicycle on the streets of Paris in the morning. They both claimed to have a total disregard for symbols.

Neither of the two would admit to being in love. "Love my nose," said Edouard. Socially they were a big hit. It was fashionable to be seen at the same restaurants as Edouard and Edouardetta. Everyone ordered boiled nose. That was before the war when nose was still plentiful.

 Isn't it a fun read?  Here's an image of the front and back covers of this 1 5/8" x 2" mini-book:

The back cover features Poems-For-All's vision:

scattered around town -- on buses,
trains, cabs, in restrooms, bars, left
along with the tip; stuffed into a
 stranger's back pocket. Whatever. Wherever.

And now, where shall we "shelve" EDOUARD'S NOSE?  Well, it's such a playful piece that I thought to shelve it on a toy chair, a cheerful rocker


I saw these Peacock rattan chairs, with side-table/stool/coffee table, and couldn't resist adding them to SitWithMoi's chair collection.  So iconic ... and  nifty! 

Love that whole Peacock thang...!

[Prov.: Ebay. Size: 8" height, 3" width, 3.6" depth]

Monday, April 15, 2013


What an intriguing project by Marthe Reed: her Dusie chapbook, Florula Ludoviciana, that's fortunately small enough to be included in SitWithMoi's "Books on Chairs." 

But, first, a note on the wonderful Dusie project founded and curated by Switzerland-based poet Susana Gardner.   I was fortunate enough to once participate in Dusie's chap project (THE SINGER AND OTHERS: Flamenco Hay(na)ku), and would encourage you to read this HOW2 article on Dusie; here's an excerpt:
On paper or on-line, the most important kind of space Dusie aims for is a space for poetry, the "of many by many for many" that is open to and for experiment. "As a woman and poet," Gardner says, "I had long wished to establish a space where poetry might thrive in a more open and conducive spirit, encouraging writers to take risks." She implies that there is often not enough space available in poetry journals for longer or more playful works, both in terms of physical page and stylistic constraints. While the average paper-based journal typically presents a small selection of poems or a few pages per issue by a given author, it is not unusual to find anything from a few poems to a dozen pages by any of the poets featured in a single issue of Dusie: the space is flexible and variable. Gardner takes on what she personally considers to be compelling work, from handfuls of in-progress or in-play poems, to extended chapbook features.

This is not to suggest that Dusie becomes a sort of catchall for work that has been filtered out of a poet or publisher's idea of publishable or polished work. Rather, it means that Dusie is to function as the arena we so often claim we want our work to exist in; a flexible, playful, risk-ridden space for actual experiment, "versus any ready-made poetic dogma," as Gardner puts it. She recognizes that what gets labeled as experimental is still prone to division and segregation within itself, that the "serial, long poems, hybrid and multi-genre works" she is obsessed with and intrigued by still get left out as the various other when they don't quite fit a given style.

Marthe Reed's Florula Ludoviciana is one of the experimental explorations coming out of Dusie this year. 

 It is also made out of judicious folding and cutting of a single piece of 8" x 11" paper to create sufficient "pages" to offer seven poems (just like moi NOVEL CHATELAINE). 

By coincidence (or synchronicity), I read Florula Ludoviciana shortly before reading another poetry collection, the fabulous 80 BEETLES by Mark Cunningham (there are three sample poems in the link). I couldn't help but notice how both Marthe and Mark offer poems with titles that would seem to set up some theme or narrative frame, but then the text of the poems segue (wonderfully) into something else.  In Mark's case, the often far-reaching segues unfold in the way of great prose poems (a form advantageous for suppleness and flexibility), and these are prose poems.  In comparing Marthe's approach to Mark's, I realized then that Marthe's poems are also about deftness and balance.  Because unlike Mark's poems, Marthe's poems, on one level, seem to want to be plausibly factual -- their constraint, thus, is not the capacity to go robustly wild (as Mark's poems) but to seem, at least initially, believable in an almost matter-of-fact way.

For example, we have the poem entitled Prunus Caroliniana which, according to Wikipedia, is "known as the Carolina Cherry Laurel, with syns. Cherry Laurel, Carolina Cherry, Laurelcherry or Wild Mock Orange, [and] is a flowering tree native to the Southeastern U.S., from North Carolina south to Florida and westward to eastern Texas."  Here is the poem:
Prunus caroliniana

a tree
and one foot

small, white, yellow
taste of almonds
even when it freezes

On the face of it, one can read the text and not see any reason why the words are all "about" this Cherry Laurel.  But if one considers longer the last two lines -- "taste of almonds / even when it freezes" -- the poem's expanse widens (or can widen, depending on the reader) to narratively non-related matters.  Say, the aftertaste, both literal and metaphorical, of some complicated if not negative-in-some-way event.  I mean, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you participated in something that you ended up regretting or that ended up hurting you?  Your reactions to that event can remain or linger long after the matter has ended -- "it freezes," thus remains (instead of, say, evaporating).  And "taste of almonds," for me, evokes poison, which is to say, something negative.

This is another example, a poem titled after Amaranthus greggii.  Again according to Wikipedia, this is an annual flowering plant " native to Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico. The plant can grow up to 1 m (3 ft) in height. It is found in sand dunes and near sea beaches."  Here's the poem:
Amaranthus greggii

the real
differs from this

and small white
It may be that the amaranthus greggii offers parts that are white and small, but the wording of the poem makes it address the larger issues of reality -- the difficulty and complications of trying to fix reality, whether into words or recognition. If you think about it, "whitish," "small" and "small white" can mean entirely different things.  "Whitish" is not the same as "white." "Small" is not the same as "small white."  Yet all the words are applied to the same plant. Doesn't this hearken the same problems we might have with accurately defining matters of identity or authenticity, and then articulating them as such accurately?

What's interesting, too, about "Amaranthus greggii" is that it references a plant named after Josiah Gregg, an explorer and naturalist.  He collected many previously undescribed plants -- how much of what we know of those plants depend on Gregg's ability to identify "the real"?

Great poems often have the ability to inspire a reader to think.  Florula Ludoviciana might seem a modest project -- small in physical scale and short poems numbering only seven.  But its expanse is wide and makes for pleasing engagements.  Thanks, Marthe for writing it!  And Dusie for publishing it!

And now, it's time to "shelve" Marthe's 2 5/8" x 4 1/8" mini-book!  Well, why not on a lovely rocking bench with comfy rush seat, perfect for contemplation!


I believe this "vintage" metal chair was intended to be a napkin holder.  But I brought it home for SitWithMoi coz I like it:

To be a poet is also to decontextualize.  I'm sure this chair will hold a mini-book as well as it would capture a rolled napkin within the round metal catch on its back.

[Prov.: Pier 1 Imports. Size: 4" height x 2" seat diameter]


And another group from the "Ebay 30" acquisition is a pair of rockers with rush seats!

The longer bench features a hand-crocheted throw by moi good pal Sandy!  Thanks Sam!

[Prov.: "Ebay 30." Size: Chair: 8" height, 4" width and depth.  Bench: 9" height, 4" width and depth]

Friday, April 12, 2013


[Related Posts: BLUE BLEU BLU and JAPAN TALES, both by Alice Brody]

Love those fabric artists!  New York-based quilter Alice Brody -- who's already contributed two books for SitWithMoi's "Books on Chairs" project (click on above two links for her books) -- has created fabric throws for the chairs!  To keep books warm!  Well, why not!  Here's the bounty:

Alice designed some of the throws for specific chairs.  I love how this silk throw picks up on the fabulous fabric of Mary Scheller's chaise lounge -- and lucky book by Ed Baker to be kept warm!

And I love how this throw's fabric picks up on the metal of this iron rocking chair:

And, yes, suddenly the authentic Mexican chairs have some throws to brighten up their untouched surfaces and to keep warm moi NOVEL CHATELAINE and jim mccrary's THE LAST WORD:

Last but not least, we've got another silk throw that picks up on the narra wood of this couch:

I am keeping the other throws folded on another chair until I decide which book they shall cuddle around.  But, thank you Alice!  For not just sending these over but having fun with the project too!

And let's remember what keeps books cold.  The chill comes from being unread.  Have you warmed up a book today?

Thursday, April 11, 2013



And this is about another Poems-For-All booklet from the generous gift of curator Richard Hansen! This is I'M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU?, one of the most famous poems by Emily Dickinson.

Here is the front cover:

This is an effectively-designed book, in part because the partially blinded women extend to the back cover:

You open to the title page:

You turn the page to the poem:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you--Nobody--too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise--you know!
How dreary--to be--Somebody!
How public--like a Frog--
To tell one's name--the livelong June--
To an admiring Bog!

You turn the page to some background information as to how this booklet was created:

In case you can't read the above image, it says that the booklet was

"Published on the occasion of the Academy of American Poets' Poem in your Pocket Day, April 17th, 2009.  The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 17th."
Much has been said about this poem, one of the most popular by Emily Dickinson (for example, HERE).  I don't need to add to the analysis per se -- but for purpose of "shelving" the booklet on a mini-chair, I choose to focus on its very compelling first line: I'm Nobody! Who are you?

I focus on that line because I will "shelve" this booklet on the Sewing Chair.  If you recall from this post, I associate this chair with Mom who often stitched various items for me (I have one memory of her on her knees with pins in her mouth stitching a hem on my very first long dress for a high school dance; I remember looking down on her and noticing how her hair was thinning -- a detail that unnerved me as it may be my first consciousness that Mom was aging, thus mortal ... a detail so unnerving that it would pop up unexpectedly in a poem I'd write decades later...but I digress).

Anyway, when my father died, Mom moved into our house and I was blessed to live with her for six years.  During that time, she witnessed my daily lifestyle as a writer.  She was so proud of me ... such that she often described herself to friends and acquaintances as "Eileen's Mom -- the goose who laid the Golden Egg."

While appreciating her support, I was always a tad disturbed (though never told her) about her description of herself.  I thought Mom was more than just my mother and deserved respect as such: she was an effective teacher (just the other week I heard yet again from one of her students about 50 years ago about what a great teacher she was), a beloved member of her church and community, a well-respected elder in the clan ... I could go on. But within my household, it seemed that she was just a retired woman who loved her family (which by itself is a lot since I know the hard way that loving one's family can't be taken for granted).

Fortunately, we were able to see Mom's book, DAWAC, released before her death (it came out two months before she died).  That's yet another major achievement by Mom: a first book at age 82!  And so in one of our last phone conversations together, I was able to tell her -- in a way that she understood deeply -- how proud I was of her but specifically articulate my pride by saying:

"Mom, you know how you always say you're the goose who laid the Golden Egg?  What I want to say to you, Mom, is that YOU are the Golden Egg."

It was a moment -- a way of articulation -- whose significance only she and I could really understand.  I believe she was crying (happy tears!) as she replied simply on the phone, "Yes. I hear you."

Here is the book I am recalling

even as I shelve Emily Dickinson's I'M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU? on Mom's mini-sewing chair:

We opened our eyes, Mom. You, were, the Golden Egg ...


It's the right size, so I couldn't resist this armchair in the style of a Philippe Starck "ghost chair" (do ignore the fish bawling it out for usurping my affection):

Simple, yet so elegant and satisfying.  Welcome!

[Prov.: Ebay. Scale: 1:6]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ELEVATED LFTs by E.R. Tabios

Ugh. All I'm eating for three months are oatmeal, nuts, salad, fish, whole wheat toast and veggies.  Sounds healthy.  It is healthy (I feel better and without intention lost 7 pounds in the first week).  But said diet precludes wine wine wine, anything sweet, fruit, my normal meats, pastries ... and have I mentioned wine wine wine?  And the reason is my last blood tests showed slightly elevated LFTs and so moi doctor said go on this healthy diet for three months.  Then they'll test me again and, hopefully, ease up on some of the dietetic constraints.  On, say, wine wine wine ...
Naturally, I thought to create a mini-book on this matter (but of course!).  And this 3" x 2" book revolves around an item I didn't expect my doctor to recommend: dark chocolate.  I love chocolate but usually milk chocolate.  But I'm not now allowed on milk chocolate (too much sugar) but am allowed dark chocolate for its anti-oxidants.  Okey-dokey.  So, a mini-book! The title, of course, is ELEVATED LFTs.
And it began with trying to recycle yet another Holiday card -- these cards have such great cover stock quality.  I chose this one of three chickadees working together to decorate a Xmas tree because the decoration at hand is a gold star.  And I thought to reward moiself with a gold star for sticking with my new diet:
By the way, this book -- like others I'm creating -- are tinkering with ways to collage found material.  In the case of ELEVATED LFTs, I wanted to not incorporate any text "by" me.  This point-of-view relates to the larger poetics POV of language (thus content) not being the property of any individual author -- even when Shakespeare invented words/phrases (moithinks over 2,000 such inventions?), he couldn't retain ownership of them as retaining ownership would eliminate their raison d'etre as ... uh, language!  Am I digressing?  Okay ....
Here, then, is the front cover:
Open the book to its title page:
Turn the page to see the core of the content--the page being the packaging of emptied individual bars of dark chocolate:
The chocolates are Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight with 72% Cacao:
Keep turning the pages to see the same thing: pages of recycled dark chocolate packaging:
Also recycled for the book's interior is a cut-out of one of the chickadees that I couldn't use on the cover.  I used this image because said chickadee looks sorta grumpy (doesn't she?), which mirrors moi mood on this diet:
So where shall healthier but grumpier Moi "shelve" moiself?  Well, this heart-ful twig chair has been looking lonely of late, so twig chair it is!



And another chair from the "Ebay 30" acquisition is a sewing chair!  I love it for reminding me of moi Mama.  And because I often think that, as a poet, I don't write words so much as stitch them together ...

Welcome, Little Sewing Chair!  Whenever I see you, I think of Mom stitching many a hem for me.  As she was doing in this photo ... before I interrupted her to inflict one of moi books on her:

[Prov.: "Ebay 30." Size: 8" height, 3.5" width, 3" depth]

Monday, April 8, 2013


And I'm delighted to present another chair from the "Ebay 30" acquisition.  This is a wooden, painted chair featuring (inexplicably to me but why not?) a bunch of carrots flattened to be the chair's back:

And why am I delighted to present this chair?  Because, while larger than my targeted 1:6 scale, its scale allows me to include some larger (than 2" x 2") mini-books, specifically a group of David Larsen's poetry chapbooks:

When I first moved from New York City to the Bay Area more than a decade ago, the move allowed me to meet some of the innovative poets living in Northern California, including David Larsen.  I was delighted to be a recipient of some of his handmade chaps, and will be posting individually on his publications as I "shelve" them in the future.  For now, let us just welcome the chair whose scale allows us to include these David Larsen chaps!

[Prov.: "Ebay 30." Size: 11.5" height x 13.5" width x 5.25" depth]

Sunday, April 7, 2013



And this is about another Poems-For-All booklet from the generous gift of curator Richard Hansen: HAIKU by Colin Will.

You open this charming mini-book to the title page

which is followed by the book's haiku:

Here is the text -- niftily related to the cover image -- in case you can't read my poorly-photographed image (I've got a first-generation Iphone and until it breaks down I ain't replacin' it!):
the poet reads--
lavender wafts
in the sunshine
The back cover image replicates Poems-For-All's Johnny Appleseed-like reference to scattering poems like seeds throughout the universe:

An enchanting project, which is why I've chosen to shelve this 1 5/8" x 2" book on an enchanting eye-opener of a chair: