Thursday, August 30, 2007


Eileen Tabios Engages

(Dusie, 2007)

Dusie--founded, published and edited by Switzerland-based poet Susana Gardner--truly deserves praise for having achieved one of the most creative meldings of the internet and the page. Dusie accomplishes this through its Dusie chap series. "Chap" here doesn't just mean chapbooks but other types of publications and ephemera, ranging over perfect bound books to broadsides. Basically, a collective of poets agree to have their manuscripts published online through the Dusie site; in addition, the poets create hard-copy versions of their manuscripts which they then are obliged to exchange with each other. Of course, most poets create more hard copies than the number in the collective, which they then can disseminate to other non-collective members.

This arrangement allows the manuscript's text (including reproduced visual imagery in some cases) to be available to the public through the internet. But the lucky recipients of the hard copy versions have seen a wondrous diversity of such limited edition versions. Many are hand-made. Many incorporate components that are not available in the online versions, whether it's drawings, a variety of colorful threads, a variety of papers and vellums and cardstocks, collages and so on.

Among the new chaps from the 2007 series is ERRATUM to A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF YEARS (Leviathan Press, 2001) by Giles Goodland, a witty conceptual poetic act that swiftly plastered a grin on my face. The Dusie publication is an "Erratum” slip that corrects a line in one of the poems in Goodland’s earlier book, A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF YEARS published in 2001 by the British Leviathan Press. ERRATUM is printed on a folded piece of white paper, so there's nothing fancy about its presentation (especially compared to some of the other hard copy chaps in the series). The slip is slipped into the folds of the referenced book. It's a project that points out a correction in one of the poems. Simply, ERRATUM notes:

Page 32 (poem 1931) line 15: insert double line space after the word ‘soup’; delete semi-colon

Here is the line in question, featured below with the Dusie correction in place:

a poisonous reptile, called aranai, was found in the soup—he opened his mouth, but before a sound came out of it, Doreen said

The initially-used semi-colon can be appropriate. As Wikipedia notes about the semi-colon:
It binds two sentences more closely than they would be if separated by a full stop/period. It often replaces a conjunction such as and or but. Writers might consider this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-on' in meaning from one to the next; they might not want the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a full stop. // It is used as a stronger division than a comma, to make meaning clear in a sentence where commas are being used for other purposes. A common example of this use is to separate the items of a list when some of the items themselves contain commas.

However, it’s easy enough to agree with Goodland’s change. Again citing Wikipedia, or rather the Chicago Manual of Style that it quotes:

The em dash is used "to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure."

A “sudden break in thought” or “abrupt change in sentence structure” would seem apropos in light of the overall poem which is comprised of lines that exemplify these approaches; here’s an excerpt from the poem before and after the Dusie-corrected line:

the occurrence of emotional elements and pseudoperceptions (centrally evoked perceptions)

in the complex, involved, manifoldly conditioned “appearances” of the kaleidoscopic world

a poisonous reptile, called aranai, was found in the soup—he opened his mouth, but before a sound came out of it, Doreen said

heart-stirring, memory-haunting Coty odeurs are what every woman secretly hopes for

in this manner the head officials of a prosperous company conceived the idea of putting through the wages books large sums in respect of fictitious names and “dead: men

What’s brilliant about Goodman's ERRATUM slip is that regardless of whether one considers the change significant or not, it introduces his earlier book to a group of over 70 contemporary poets which comprise this year's Dusie collective, a good target for new readers of a poetry book. I don't know anything about the status of A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF YEARS, whether it was well received when it first came out or whether it’s languishing in obscurity somewhere. But I hadn’t heard of it before and now have a reason to read it versus any of the other thousands of poetry volumes out there clamoring to be read. Indeed, from the sample poem of “1931”--its interesting juxtapositions that remind me of Ron Silliman--I am eager to read it. It’s in a result like this where ERRATUM succeeds in its intention (as I perceive that intention).

(And I'm also pleased to note that GR's review copy for ERRATUM... has been picked up by another reviewer, and I suspect that reviewer will actually include a review of the 2001 book in his purview. If so, that again testifies to the success of Goodland's strategy in reviving interest in his earlier book.)


Oh what the heck. I opened A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF YEARS, going to the first pages of the book. The first poem “1900” begins:

There is no true poet who has not again and again been mastered by that strange feeling of helplessness in the hands of

the automotive actions of vegetative life.—Under this head we have (a) those of the respiratory neuro-mechanism: (b) those of the

loss of the power of naming objects or of recognizing names

“Who was it?” said he. At once the spirit indicated a desire to use the alphabet

the connection was made, and I called up one part of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and realized that by grace of this marvelous instrument I

Actually, one opens the book to first see a question at the bottom of the page:

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?

Smart. It’s a fitting question to what looks to be poems comprised of fragments or incomplete thoughts that invite the reader to complete them. I probably need to read more of the book to discuss the reference to the Book of Job. But for now, yep, I am hooked!

To the rest of the book, I shall be proceeding Onward!


Eileen Tabios recently released THE LIGHT SANG AS IT LEFT YOUR EYES: OUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007).


At 6:37 PM, Blogger EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by John Bloomberg-Rissman in GR #8 at:


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