Book Review

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The Daily Art Source

Review of The Connoisseur of Alleys by Eileen Tabios

“I forgot...” this is how Eileen Tabios begins each stanza, each paragraph in this book. It’s a tome of remembrance, or sorrow. In the foreword we learn that she used a MDR Poetry Generator. For more information on what that is you can Google it. It is not a cut-up. In the opening section entitled, “After the Egyptians Determined The Shape of the World is a Circle” in section 6, she writes: “I forgot why lovers destroy children to parse the philosophy of separation…I forgot the glint from the fang of a wild boar as he lurked behind shadows in a land where it takes one domino to fall…” This line is the beginning of section 3. Here it is the second line. In section 7 it’s buried a bit deeper. Should poetry be left to chance? If it is “generated” by a machine is it still chance? What inspires you in that moment is still on the page, just at a later time.

This process, and all things have a process, is repeated throughout the poem mentioned above until it is explained again, as it was in the foreword, at the end of the book in a section entitled, “Murder, Death and Resurrections: A Poetry Generator.” She writes: “An ongoing work, “Murder, Death and Resurrection” (MDR), includes “The MDR Poetry Generator contains a database of 1,146 lines, which can be combined randomly to make a large number of poems, the shortest would be a couplet and the longest would be a poem of 1,146 lines.” Also in the section Ms Tabios further explains the process and describes working with her son’s math teacher in the early stages on the formula. This is yet another interesting book from Ms Tabios.

Chris Mansel