"Listen close - the sound gets better."
- Hanshan, translated by Gary Snyder
A Review of Sun Stigmata (Sculpture Poems)
I first reviewed a book by Eileen Tabios in 2002, Reproductions Of the Empty Flagpole. So it is fitting that the next book that I would review would be the book that is a continuation of the previous effort. In the interval Tabios has, as she write in her poem, Eclipse, "...fled, to an alien land/whose history has become/like you - impossible to be grasped."
Ernest Hemingway in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech said, "How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him." That's a good place for a writer to be, out in that place where there is no help, except for the compassion of the blank page. It's what you do with it, is how you survive. When you're Eileen Tabios and you begin your book with a poem entitled, Eclipse, you are perhaps uncovering something. Or as she writes, "A shadow when there is no light."
A small section of the poem, The Lamb, "A book-lined room, feet/atop a damask-covered/ottoman, fingers waltzing/ to notes interrupting air." You have to admire the fluidity in the way Tabios writes. In another poem entitled Jade, she writes, "No need to turn the urn/to realize I no longer believe/ in the humility of monks." This is fitting. She is out there, where Hemingway spoke of, Sun Stigmata is like applying perfume to the pulse on your wrist and neck. The constant vibration of these words will radiate,and burst from the palms of your hands. This is a volume that is necessary. The sun gives life and so does good writing.