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.
Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 11 countries and cyberspace. DOVELION: A FAIRY TALE FOR OUR TIMES (AC Books, 2021) is her first long- form novel. Her 2020 books include a short story collection, PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora; a poetry collection, THE IN(TER)VENTION OF THE HAY(NA)KU (Marsh Hawk Press, 2019); and her third bilingual edition (English/Thai), INCULPATORY EVIDENCE: Covid-19 Poems. Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form, and the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity, as well as a first poetry book, Beyond Life Sentences, which received the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry. Translated into 11 languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies.Author City: SAN FRANCISCO, CA USA