The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku – Selected Tercets 1996-2019 by Eileen R. Tabios

By Lynette G. Esposito
Marsh Hawk Press has released The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku  Selected Tercets 1996-2019 a comprehensive tome of poetry by Eileen R. Tabios  The collection is a blend of long, skinny poems with amazing forms, concepts and images in 233 pages.
The comments on Tabios’ work are many. One that catches the unique quality of this collection is from kultureflash. In kultureflash:  Headlines from London: —enormous tonal range in her poetry. A breathless intensity may be her most characteristic mode. While tonal is a subjective reaction by the reader to poetic work, this comment works.
For example, on page eighty-nine:
                                              Girl Singing
                                             Girl singing day when “I”
                                             is a Verb, the leaf beyond
                                             my bedroom window becomes
                                             a universe of contemplation
                                            rather than a mere fragment
 .                                           at the mercy of a faint breeze.
The switch from an intellectual comment to the power of nature symbolically represented by a leaf and a breeze shows tremendous poetic skill. The revelation beyond one’s constrained space combined with the change of a pronoun into an action (verb) is an amazing transition into contemplating the universe and the self within it. The tone is both calm and direct.
This same technique of mixing conceptual suggestions with interpretive imagery can be seen on page 138 in the poem La Loca.
                                      In the green
                                      morning I
                                      to be a
                                      heart. A
                                     And at evening’s
                                     end, I
                                     to be my
                                     a nightingale.
                                             — LO(R)CA
The ninety-two stanza poem creates, both in form and image, a sense of self in relationship to time and place. Each stanza is in three lines (tercet) and extends over nine pages. Although long, the poem is well controlled and a pleasure to read.
Another poem that demonstrates Tabios’ unique poetic abilities is The Ineffability of Mushrooms (A Novella in Verse) on page 192 to196, which tells a storywith the time being prior to war. Tabios uses numbers in groupings of tercets to indicate chapters.
                                          The porcini appeared
                                          under right
                                          after heavy rain
                                          soaked warn
                                          this desired combination
                                         lovingly labeled
The first three stanzas represent the first of five numbered chapters using the tercet stanza form  and intermingling conceptual images with reader interpretations. The poem snakes down  the page setting up time, place and situation. A symbol enjoying delicious mushrooms ends with a shock. The shock uses the timing of receiving a bag of mushrooms for the last time and the out break of war. The association with a gift and the outbreak of conflict is interesting. Tabios is very skilled.
                                   …Later in
                                        London, I
                                        each Autumn one
                                        precious, single
                                        of dried mushrooms
                                        and memories
                                        lingering like smoke.
                                        The last
                                         In 1939, shortly
                                        after the
                                        of war
This poem successfully leads to London and the big changes coming to that city in 1939.
The book is well organized and the subjects are broad but spring from specific symbols that work both logically and figuratively. Poems vary from three lines to many pages. There is good variety, a little instruction and much to be discussed in this prism of poems that shares so much light

Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.



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