Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. When John Ashbery died in September, 2017, all the obituaries noted that he had been a member of the New York School of poets, that his roots were in western New York and that, despite living for a decade in Paris, his career had unfolded over many decades in the City. Ashbery was, indeed, something of a local poet, constantly using references from the places he had lived. Lost in the very local memorials, however, was the fact that Ashbery's work also influenced writers in the Pacific, including writers of color. Eileen Tabios has taken up Ashbery's influence and engaged in a project of "the browning of John Ashbery," as she told Tinfish's editor once. Using one or two lines at a time from Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, (1976), Tabios inhabits Ashbery's mode, while moving our focus of attention many thousands of miles west of New York City. Tabios, who grew up in the Philippines, studied and worked in New York City, and has lived in California for many years, appropriates Ashbery to her own ends. These include cultural appropriation, genocide, militarism, sexual and racial violence, art history, and many other interests she shared—or did not share—with the older white male poet. WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR is a tense act of homage, one that draws Ashbery away from the region that is most comfortable with him, and into a place where the discomfort is palpable, but extremely generative.
Poet and writer Eileen Tabios was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when she was 10. She earned a BA in political science from Barnard College and an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. Founder and editor of the online poetry review journal Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement), Tabios has authored essays, fiction, and collections of mixed-genre writing. Her many collections of poetry include THE IN(TER)VENTION OF THE HAY (NA)KU: SELECTED TERCETS 1996-2019 (Marsh Hawk Press, 2019), WITNESS IN THE CONVEX MIRROR (Tinfish Press, 2019), MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A POETRY GENERATOR (Dos Madres Press, 2018), Hiraeth: Tercets from the Last Archipelago (2018), Love in a Time of Belligerence (2017), AMNESIA: SOMEBODY'S MEMOIR (Black Raddish Books, 2016), THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS (Marsh Hawk Press, 2016), INVENT(ST)ORY (Dos Madres Press, 2015), and Sun Stigmata (2014), among many others.Author City: SAN FRANCISCO, CA USA