EILEEN TABIOS Engages
A Stranger’s Table by Anne Brooke
There are lovely poems in Anne Brooke’s A Stranger’s Table—many give pleasure through reading. Here’s one:
Two boats on water
nestle in the morning sun;
shoes expecting feet.
Many other poems uplift with such thoughtful lines as
“the lurch of a foreign morning”
—from “The day after…”
“Unhook the stars,
let the sky float down”
“The air is soft with menace”
“lift me up beyond myself
and wing me to the dark”
—from “Autumn Wine”
It’s no fault of the poems, therefore, that after finishing the book, I’m compelled not just to consider the poems but also their presentation, and the old story evoked by such presentation.
That is, the book’s production is simple, e.g. a plain blue (though lovely blue) cover with white text, no extra formatting that might differentiate the title from the text (e.g. bold-faced or different font), no Table of Contents and no pagination. Fortunately, the format and structure do allow for the poems to speak for themselves, unmediated by the elements of book publication like blurbs and such. They speak well enough.
Released in 2008 (yes, review copies stay that long and longer on Galatea Resurrects’ review copy shelves because we consider poetry eternal), the book is self-published and utilizes Lulu.com. A prefatory note shares that the collection was “longlisted” in a competition. The all of it moves me to speculate—was this a case of a poet finally just getting tired of the against-the-odds book publication odds for poetry and thus taking advantage of technological advances to print the book herself and get it out there…?
Most books released in such a manner get released into a black hole of silence. But this is a book that (along with many by more famous poets) give lie to the idea that self-publication should be shameful. I read this book by a poet I do not know and so write this engagement mostly to evaporate the silence by having it talk back:
Dear Anne Brooke,
I enjoyed these poems. I’m grateful you wrote them. And I’m happy you did what you had to do to give them a shot of living on their own out in the world.
Eileen Tabios reveals something about herself in ARDUITY'S interview about what's hard about her poetry. Her just-released poetry collection, SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems), received a review by Amazon Hall of Famer reviewer Grady Harp. Due out in 2015 will be her second "Collected Poems" project; while her first THE THORN ROSARY was focused on the prose poem form, her forthcoming INVEN(S)TORY will focus on the list or catalog poem form. More information at http://eileenrtabios.com