CorpsePoetics (formerly WinePoetics)
Savasana-inspired poetics and poems (formerly Wine-inspired poetics and poems)

Sunday, August 31, 2003  


Previously, I asked you eight million peeps to sign an Amnesty International petition against the stoning death of Amina Lawal in Nigeria. I, myself, signed that petition. But I wasn't happy with the wording of the petition as I felt that it didn't sufficiently emphasize Amina Lawal's rights as a human being. I felt the wording of the Amnesty International petition, which is here at, focused mostly on the issue of the death penalty versus Amina Lawal's basic rights as a human being. (It is certainly possible for a pro-death penalty believer to still be outraged by the situation with Amina Lawal!) So, here is a copy of the letter sent to Nigeria, followed by the Amnesty International petition wording. Sure, sign the petition, too....but if you're of a mind to send a more personalized letter as I was, here's one suggestion:

His Excellency
Dr Rufai A O SOULE
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
26 Guilfoyle Street
Yarralumla ACT 2600

Your Excellency,

I am writing on behalf of Amina Lawal to request that the Government of Nigeria act to show her the compassion and mercy she is entitled to as a human being. Every country has the right to be governed by their own laws. Governments are obligated to serve the interests of their citizens which includes securing their rights as human beings and ensuring that laws are equally and equitably applied to all citizens. The application of Sharia law to Ms. Lawal for the "crime" of adultery is inhumane and certainly as applied is being used as an instrument of terror and degradation of women -- a class of citizens the Government of Nigeria is obligated to provide special protection.

The punishment to be given to Ms. Lawal is in breach of international human rights instruments signed and ratified by your Government. For that reason, I kindly call on your Government to take all necessary measures to secure respect for the rule of law in every part of Nigeria which includes respect for the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment.

The Government of Nigeria must also ensure that no-one is discriminated against before the law on grounds of his or her religion, sex or social status.

I also call on the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria to exert in due time its prerogative of mercy to ensure that Amina Lawal is not executed.

Yours Sincerely,



His Excellency
Dr Rufai A O SOULE
High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
26 Guilfoyle Street
Yarralumla ACT 2600

Your Excellency, I am deeply concerned about the pernicious effects on human beings and on their rights of the introduction of the new Sharia- based Penal Codes in Northern Nigeria. These new codes establish the death penalty for crimes such as adultery and introduce cruel, inhumane and degrading punishments such as flogging and amputation.

All these punishments are in breach of international human rights instruments signed and ratified by your Government, for that reason, I kindly call on your Government to take all necessary measures to secure respect for the rule of law in every part of Nigeria which includes respect for the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment, such as the practice of corporal punishment. The Nigerian government should also make death penalty a thing of the past.

The government of Nigeria must also ensure that no-one is discriminated against before the law on grounds of his or her religion, sex or social status.

I also call on the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria to exert in due time its prerogative of mercy to ensure that Amina Lawal, and all the people who have been sentenced to death under any penal legislation in Nigeria, are not executed under any circumstance. All of them have the right to a fair trial, including the right of appeal.

posted by EILEEN | 11:49 PM


Well-hung GWM, 6', 200 lbs. seeks smooth GM (Asians a plus!)
Pinkerton looking for Butterfly to suck my Suzie Wong.
--from "Five Rice Queens" by Timothy Liu

I believe the key defining element of Asian-American identity is the quest for justice
--Mari Matsuda

I've been focused on translation issues recently, not because I have a translation project in mind (and please note that the translation opinions offered in prior posts generally have been others's opinions). My interest stemmed from how translation reflects the issue of identity-making, specifically who speaks for others and how others speak on behalf of others.

I'm currently proofreading a 522-page manuscript that will have been nearly 6 years in the making by the time it is released this fall by the publisher Coffee House Press (it has a fall release, notwithstanding the summer release date noted by Amazon):

Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images

The anthology is edited by M. Evelina Galang (who also serves as fiction editor), in collaboration with me as Poetry Editor, Non-fiction Editor Sunaina Maira, Art Editor Jordin Isip, and Found Images Editor Anida Yoeu Esguerra.

This tome -- thick enough to majorly hurt someone you might throw the book at -- is one BIG EFFIN' SCREAM against all the racist images, texts and incidents that have plagued Asian America. Its initial inspiration was a 1998 Milwaukee Magazine article that, in reviewing a restaurant, called the son of the owners a "monkey." The slur reflected the article's condescending, objectifying and exoticizing approach. But what also was clear is that the reviewer used a racial slur first cast towards Filipinos by American soldiers during the Spanish American War and then here in the U.S. after the first Filipinos arrived on the Northwest coast. "Monkey" is a term that also has been used against the Black population.

Evelina's Introduction explains:

Though seemingly a small incident, relative to the greater historical injustices against Asian Americans, this matter posed its own significance we could not so easily dismiss. Poet Eileen Tabios and I had a furious exchange of e-mails debating the issue. In the end, we concluded that the reason things like this happen is because our history books -- and I mean our American history books -- do not cover this, our Asian American history -- the atrocities, the accomplishments, the contributions, the acknowledgment that we are a part of this America, not visitors, not ghosts, nor foreigners, not monkeys.

Screaming Monkeys offers a way to alleviate this gap in knowledge. I encourage everyone to check it out; at the next AWP convention in Chicago (I believe in March), there also will be a book event featuring this necessary text.

I anticipate that this book is my last project as an "Asian American' editor. I am actually saddened -- and irritated -- that, as my last project, I had to engage in a "Scream." Unfortunately, the book's existence also says something about the current state of affairs as regards race relations et al. Some of the topics covered include interracial relationships, the Wen Ho Lee affair, Andrew Cunanan, the Chinese Exclusion Act, advertisements that exploit Orientalism, racist practices in academia, Newsweek's article on "Why Asian Guys are on a Roll", imperialism, anti-Asian violence, and many more.

It is a mark of the complexity of the issues raised that the book freely reveals ambivalence as well about having this project. In the concluding essay that serves as a "companion" to the book -- very helpful for teachers -- the text circles back to the excerpt from Evelina's introduction (that I note above) to say:

M. Evelina Galang begins the volume with this leap of faith: "...What if [the] editors at Milwaukee Magazine had been as familiar with the history of Asian immigrants in America as they are with the history of immigrants on the Mayflower? Someone would have seen the mistake, caught it, erased it, and never let it see the printed page. Knowing, she implies, stops racism before it happens. It kills bugs dead.

This belief is foundational to the Asian American Movement that spawned the scholarship [Helen] Zia discovered in college. Nevertheless, it prompts a critical question about how this aim might have been co-opted once "diversity" became a catch-word in American national self-conception. Vijay Prashad notes that American racial representation in the post-Civil Rights era is dominated--and contained--by the logic of liberal multiculturalism:

The anti-racist struggle ... fought against the arrogance of white supremacy, but the United States' response to the struggle was simply to adopt the liberal patina of multiculturalism to fend off the challenge. Despite multiculturalism's roots in anti-racism, it now seems to be restricted to the promotion of an ahistorical diversity and the pedagogy of sensitivity.

One could say that the very presence of anthologies like this one unwittingly contributes to that "liberal patina of multiculturalism." Screaming Monkeys gives voice to a "primal scream" that attests to Asian American prescience and anger, but is it merely content to render visible what was previously invisible? Does it do more--ifso, what? Can it transcend the moment of its own emergence?

Excellent questions. Check out this book so you can provide the answers through, indeed, Education, education, education. Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from Li Young Lee's contribution, a response to Ralph Waldo Emerson's statement that Chinese are "not even as good as the Africans, who are at least willing to carry our wfine wood. They have no culture to speak of, no music, no literature..." Basically, it seems Li Young would gobble up Waldo, after cleaving through his head:

And I would eat Emerson, his transparent soul, his
soporific transcendence.
I would eat this head,
glazed in pepper-speckled sauce,
the cooked eyes opaque in their sockets.
I bring it to my mouth and--
the way I was taught, the way I've watched
others before me do--
with a stiff tongue lick out
the cheek-meat and the meat
over the armored jaw, my eating,
in sensual, salient nowness,
punctuating the void from which hunger springs and to which it proceeds.
--from "The Cleaving"

Screaming Monkey poets offering their poems are: Li Young Lee, Brian Komei Dempster, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Bao Phi, Marilyn Chin, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge,maiana minahal, Bino A. Realuyo, Jon Pineda, Nick Carbo, Denise Duhamel,Molly McQuade, Purvi Shah, Lori Tsang, Xue Di (translated by Wang Ping and Forrest Gander), Timothy Liu, Oliver Francisco de la Paz, Patrick Rosal, Lawson Inada, Vince Gotera, Luisa A. Igloria, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Johnson Cheu, Luis Cabalquinto, Marlon Unas Esguerra, John Yau, Michella Rivera Gravage, Luba Halicki, Arthur Sze, Maya Rani Khosla, and Oscar Penaranda. Other Asian American poets are involved through other forms: Walter Lew and Lois Ann Yamanaka through fiction and David Mura through essay.

My poetry editor's comments took the form of a poem. I chose my poem "Nobility" because it ends with the lines:

The physical reality of revolution is decadence. The aftermath is what transcends.

posted by EILEEN | 12:46 AM

Saturday, August 30, 2003  


Such different perspectives from those who would translate and those who would be translated. Of course, it's the latter who run the risk of being silenced, colonized, co-opted, subverted.....

The following is a relatively new revelation for me from my own Poetry Practice:

Sound need not lack integrity.

posted by EILEEN | 12:32 PM



Neighbor ran over one-year-old rattlesnake. She watches bugs and other critters eat at the flesh from the ropey corpse. The skin is a beautiful lime green, and offers exactly the image of the wrist-band on her new watch. Weeks earlier, she had tried to order the same watch with a different color, but the watch was available only with that color -- she had thought, Why wear such a pallid color over one's pulse? Now she knows the answer: so a baby rattlesnake will live forever through memory. And the color is no longer pale, but resonant.

posted by EILEEN | 9:22 AM


Guillermo Juan Parra writes:

"it was wonderful to read about Malcolm de Chazal--his thoughts on trees, nature & humans are beautiful and i'll have to look him up soon--your question on translation yesterday had me thinking about a writer who strangely enough coincides very much with what you mentioned about de Chazal--Wilson Harris, the Guyanese novelist & poet whose writings have been crucial for me in the last few years--

"anyways, Harris came to my mind last night in relation to translation--his novel Jonestown (Faber & Faber, 1996) includes the following ruminations by the narrator, a ghost named Francisco Bone:

Those hidden texts may never--I would say will never-- be absolutely translated. They are wilderness music. They infuse an uncharted realm, a mysterious density, into every chart of the Word. They infuse immense curiosity and vitality as well in empowering the vulnerable prey (such as ourselves) to seek for endless translations in time of differentiations within ourselves between prey and Predator.

"Harris writes in English but his work (i think) is an attempt to translate the indigenous ancestries that so many of us in South America (and elsewhere) have lost and then had to rebuild, in foreign tongues--his ruminations on mestizaje, from an anglophone perspective, have been blessings for me in my own writing, or reading--i know very little about the Philippines but it seems that its culture is unique among the rest of Asia because of a form of mestizaje similar to what has happened here in the Americas--perhaps it's the Spanish colonial connection--"


Thanks for sharing, Guillermo. Here's something else worth sharing from noted scholar Vicente L. Rafael, author of White Love and Other Events in Filipino History (University of California at San Diego) (who posted it on Flips List):

I was just reading the discussions on Flips regarding translation, something that I do quite a bit of work on. Walter Benjamin's difficult essay was mentioned. I myself am never sure if I understand it but one of the more illuminating commentaries on it is an essay by: Paul de Man, "Conclusions: Walter Benjamin's 'The Task of the Translator'" in Paul de Man, The Resistance to Theory.  
As to the question you raised, "is everything translation?" (which then forces you into a dead end debate regarding the difference between an "original" and its "copy), I would  re-phrase this as, "is everything translatable?" (which shifts our thinking about translation as an act and as an event for which we take responsibility).
The answer is no. For example, proper names are not translatable. You are Eileen Tabios whether in Tagalog, French, Greek or German. Proper names transfer but do not translate. You can say this not only about names of people but names of objects, of experiences, etc. Another example, the Tagalog "loob" which of course means more and less than "inside" or "soul".
Such proper names refer to singularities that may be similar to other singularities but are fundamentally incommensurable with them.  They thus resist translation and thereby constitute a principle of untranslatability that makes possible, indeed underwrites (like a signature) the act of translation. Any consideration of translation then must also take place against the backdrop of the unstranslatable, what resists equivalence..
Finally, there is the question of politics and ethics. Like every act, translation has consequences and for this reason entails responsibility. To translate is in the first instance to respond to a demand for translation whether this demand comes from the text itself or from some other source. Every response brings with it responsibility. The question of course is: responsibility to whom? For what?
These questions remain open and can only be answered in speicfic contexts. For example, missionaries believe it is their responsbility to translate what they think is the word of God. But in doing so, they impose protocols of hearing, understanding and behaviour on others who may not want such changes. Responsibility is no guarantee that one is being just and ethical. 
Regardless of whether translation is just or unjust, irresponsible or responsible, we can be certain of one thing: that translations keep alive what they translate in another form. This is where Benjamin is helpful. He argues that translation guarantees the "original" an afterlife. It insures that the original will live on in however distorted, bastardized, or marvelous form. In this sense, we can think of translations as archives that conserve the originals and in doing so allow for their future readings.
Translations allow for future readings and re-readings: this makes translation an event. Perhaps every literary work is literary to the extent that it calls for its translation, whether in the same language or in another (e.g, exigesis, interpretation, etc.), that is to say, it is open to the risks, even catastrophes of transformation. In being translated the work gains yet another afterlife beyond the life of any single author or reader.
You might say this is the truth of translation. But it is a truth that is infinitely open to chance.
best, vince r."

Thanks Vince! Naturally, Moi promptly responded on that List and make the equivalent offer to you Peeps as well:

"What I'm latched onto now is how, say, "Eileen Tabios" is not translateable, is the same, across a variety of languages.  So, as a helpful suggestion to you various Filipinos -- if ever there's a situation where you have to translate "Eileen Tabios" to Tagalog, Bikolano, Cebuano, and other Filipino languages (e.g., if I end up visiting the Philippines someday), please feel free to translate my name from the literal English of

"The One Who Cannot Cook And Whom You Must Feed."

As literal a translation of my new name above would be appreciated.



One would think the matter would end there. But mischief-ridden poet Luis Cabalquinto must chime in:

"Tabios" in Bikolnon is the name of a fish species found in only one spot on Planet Earth -- Lake Buhi in the town of Buhi, province of Camarines Sur. The fish used to be advertised as the smallest in the world, until they discovered an even smaller species. Now it's declared as the smallest "commercial" fish in the world. The fish is delicious, and you literally ingest hundreds in one hungry swallow. Cooked with coconut milk, it makes great pulutan (or "sumsuman" in Bikolnon).

Well, just fughedabout it! THIS, OF COURSE, IS CLASSIC MIS-TRANSLATION!!!! My point is that Tabios over here is to be FED, not EATEN!

The vagaries of translation, indeed....!

posted by EILEEN | 1:19 AM

Friday, August 29, 2003  


The identity issue is a major issue not being addressed by modernist and post-modernist poets. It's not been addressed by later modernist poets because many often want to assimilate and be part of the mainstream and, thus, do not question the mainstream's use of identity, how it fixes them with a narrow possibility. It's not being addressed by post-modernists because they say that the author is dead. But why is the author dead at a point when demographics have changed such that all these people who were once marginalized and silenced can now talk -- but during a period when the author is supposedly dead?"
--John Yau, from Black Lightning

Writers are always a threat to power, since we are bound to speak our individual and collective truths, beyond any affiliation within the static ideologies of Left or Right. While I cannot dismiss the work of brilliant Cuban poets, such as Sílvio Rodríguez, Cintio Vitier and Roberto Fernández Retamar, who stand behind Castro’s disastrous and tired regime, I believe their position is partly based on their high standing in Cuba’s cultural and government elite. If we humans are to survive these next few decades, we will have to learn how to untangle ourselves from allegiances to certain inflexible Leftist ideals that mirror the imperial project currently being imposed on the planet by Bush & co. How this might be accomplished is beyond my grasp. However, maintaining an awareness of fascist tendencies, whether on the Left or Right, is a crucial first step.
--Guillermo Juan Parra

My thanks to Guillermo for sharing his essay below, which was first published in New York Nights, an anti-war newspaper edited in New York City by Julien Poirier and Marisol Limon Martinez. Guillermo had noted, "my viewpoint is of course biased against Chavez, so my essay is definitely not a definitive account of the current crisis in Venezuela." More recently, Guillermo wrote:

reading through the vene-newspapers in recent days & talking w/ family there do seem to be some hopeful signs for the country because the Referendum process is already in progress and many international observers (Jimmy Carter Center, Brazilian President Lula & others) are saying it should happen, as long as both sides play fair--

thank you for offering to post the essay--all you bloggerz are writing so many wonderful things--i've always been fascinated by poets' journals/notebooks, and the blogs, for me, are like getting a privileged view into your writing worlds--

peepin, boston
best wishes,


Tropical Fascism: Hugo Chávez’s “Bolivarian” Disaster, 1998-2003
By Guillermo Juan Parra


Current Situation & Recent History
Former Venezuelan army Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez Frias was the leader of a coup attempt and military insurrection against the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992. Chávez failed in his attempt at capturing Caracas, while other members of the then-secret group of leftist military officers established themselves victoriously in several key cities across Venezuela, including Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, and Valencia. Chávez and his fellow conspirators had been planning this attack for almost ten years, at times meeting with former Marxist guerrillas who had survived the insurrections against several Venezuelan governments during the 1960s and 1970s. Chávez’s unit of soldiers attacked key military and government buildings in Caracas, from dawn until late afternoon. These sites included the military and civilian airport of La Carlota, on the banks of the polluted Guaire River, which runs from one end of the valley to the other; as well as the presidential house, La Casona. Both of these targets are located in residential and commercial areas in the East of Caracas. The death toll that day was high, due to the fact that many people were at their jobs or on the way to work and were caught in the crossfire.

When Chávez was captured that day, he made a brief statement on television, calmly asking his comrades to turn themselves in to government forces, acknowledging defeat. That statement was shown on television for days afterwards, and Chávez was soon hailed by many people as a leader with the courage and integrity to stand up to the corrupt failures of recent government administrations. In 1992, Venezuela was awakening to the rude hangover of globalization, after five decades of massive petroleum revenues, an era often referred to as “Venezuela Saudita” (Saudi Venezuela). Despite boasting Latin America’s oldest democracy (founded with the overthrow of military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958), the country was in a downward economic spiral caused primarily by the widespread corruption and mismanagement of successive presidencies.

Chávez has been president of Venezuela (or, as he renamed it after his inauguration, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) since he won a landslide election in 1998. His four and a half years of what he calls a “revolution” have plunged Venezuela, one of the wealthiest members of OPEC, into a financial, social, and cultural crisis unseen since the country fought for its independence from Spain in the early 1800s. Although he was voted in by an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans, including large percentages of the lower, middle and upper classes, his disastrous policies and combative governing style have helped swell the opposition ranks to approximately 60 to 70 percent of the population, as of last month.

Chávez has based his “revolution,” or as he calls it “el proceso” (the process), on the ideals of Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), who led the fight against Spanish colonization for more than two decades. Unlike Bolívar, however, Chávez is not an intellectual and he has very little use for the subtlety and willingness to compromise that are required for running a country. In this sense, Chávez is a mirror image of George W. Bush’s embarrassing antics as the first U.S. president to use the word “crawfish” as a verb. From the very beginning of his presidency, Chávez has promoted a confrontational, sensationalist, and simplistic style of discourse that seeks to divide Venezuela into those who are for “the process” and those who are against it. Any attempt, particularly by intellectuals, to offer a more complex approach to the problems of the country is labeled as “fascist” or “oligarchic” by Chávez, who leaves no room for dissent from his “process.” His weekly television and radio show, Aló Presidente, has become a running joke (albeit a bad joke, with deadly consequences) among those Venezuelans who are unwilling to take seriously a president who sings folkloric songs, talks interminably about his revolution’s accomplishments, recounts jokes and childhood memories, while the country stumbles further into chaos. His show is a classic example of a derivative and cliché magical realist mind, attempting to make reality fit into a distorted perception.

1. Bolivarian Circles
I want to draw attention to three flawed events, or actions, that represent the utter failure of Chávez’s “revolution” in offering anything to the majority of Venezuelans, other than poverty and a multiplying crime rate. The first of these implementations is the creation of the Circulos Bolivarianos (Bolivarian Circles). These are, for the most part, neighborhood associations ranging in size from a handful to several dozen people. These groups are modeled primarily on the Cuban model of neighborhood groups whose duty it is to defend the Cuban Revolution (an Orwellian surveillance technique that has been quite effective in turning average Cuban citizens into snitches). Most of the Bolivarian Circles do indeed perform much-needed neighborhood clean-ups, crime watches, literacy campaigns, etc. in specific cities, towns and neighborhoods throughout the country. (A recent Mother Jones article highlighted these positive aspects of the Bolivarian Circles.) However, a small but important number of these circles are in actuality urban guerrilla warfare units. These units are being trained, to varying degrees, by Cuban military advisors. Various journalists and opposition leaders have speculated that members of Colombia’s FARC guerrilla forces are also in charge of training these Bolivarian Circles. At most of the dozens of opposition marches organized in the past year by the Coordinadora Democratica (Democratic Coordinator—a loose coalition of opposition political parties, ranging from the Marxist Bandera Roja to the conservative business association Fedecamaras) these violent Bolivarian Circles have shown up to intimidate, and sometimes physically attack, the unarmed protesters. Individual writers, as well as newspaper, radio, and television journalists, have been targeted by these Bolivarian Circles for harassment, death threats, and physical attacks. The offices of media outlets critical of Chávez, including two of Venezuela’s most important newspapers, El Universal and El Nacional (along with the offices of Globovision and Radio Caracas Television, two prominent TV channels), have been attacked by the Bolivarian Circles on several occasions in the past two years.

2. April 11, 2002
The second event I would like to address is what occurred on April 11, 2002, when an opposition march of over 1 million peaceful protesters reached the presidential palace (Palacio Miraflores) in downtown Caracas. Since early that morning, the aforementioned Bolivarian Circles were stationed around the presidential palace, armed with handguns, rifles, stones, sticks, etc. and vowing to “defend the revolution” against the “oligarchs.” Throughout the day, arguments and scuffles broke out between opposition members and Chávez supporters. Inexplicably, at a certain point in the day, sharpshooters who had been hidden on rooftops in surrounding skyscrapers, armed with sophisticated long-distance rifles, began shooting into the crowd of civilians. A gunfight ensued between Chavistas and members of the Policia Metropolitana (Caracas’s central police force, which is under the control of one of the city’s mayors, Alfredo Peña, a former Chávez associate and current member of the opposition). There were a total of 19 deaths that day (among both Chavista and opposition members), none of which have been successfully investigated by the government at this moment, despite the fact that many of the shooters were caught on television and still cameras. The most infamous of these shooters caught on tape were a trio of Chávez supporters (one of whom is a Caracas city councilman named Richard Peñalver) who were filmed as they unloaded multiple rounds of automatic handgun fire from Puente Llaguno (a bridge in downtown Caracas) into the street below them (for footage refer to CNN, MSNBC, BBC, etc). Several weeks ago, a Chavista judge released the three gunmen for the second time and dismissed the charges against them, citing insufficient evidence, despite the fact that several of the dead that day were found below Puente Llaguno, within the range of these three shooters’ guns. Peñalver and his accomplices have been hailed by Chávez as heroes of the “revolution,” who helped to repel the “fascist” onslaught of unarmed protesters.

For 48 hours after the events of April 11, Chávez was removed from power by several of his highest ranking generals, and kept on an island off the coast of Venezuela. During that time, riots in support of Chávez in the Western areas of Caracas left approximately 35 people dead and millions of dollars worth of damages to small businesses and private houses that were looted. Following an internal power struggle among high ranking generals for and against Chávez, those military officials in support of the “revolution” were able to gain control of the situation, reinstating Chávez after the now-famous, and historically unprecedented “mini-coup.” While there has been speculation that the U.S. Embassy and the CIA were involved in the events of that day, and even though it is undeniable that the interim presidency of former Fedecamaras president Pedro Carmona was dangerously right-wing, Chávez still must be held accountable for the sharpshooters placed on the roofs of skyscrapers, who shot into an unarmed mass of civilian protesters numbering over one million. These are, after all, buildings in the vicinity of the Miraflores Palace, and other government offices, that could have only been accessed by those in the military closest to the government. (For more detailed accounts of those events, see articles in The Nation and The New York Times [U.S.], as well as The Guardian and The Independent [UK].)

3. “Revolutionary” violence
This use of “revolutionary” violence is at the core of the third event I’d like to discuss. In early Spring of 2003, Chávez disarmed the Policia Metropolitana, leaving them only with outdated handguns and bullet-proof vests. While Chávez has claimed that he disarmed the Caracas police force due to their shoot-outs with Chavistas over the past year, his primary goal has been to encourage a state of lawlessness in the Capitol City. Caracas, for many years a cosmopolitan and vibrant world financial center plagued (like most Latin American metropolises) by escalating crime rates, has in the past year become a veritable war zone. The Policia Metropolitana do not have the proper weapons necessary to contain the well-armed criminals that have taken control of large sections of the city, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods in the West of Caracas. Over the recent Easter holiday weekend, El Nacional reported an average of 29 violent deaths per day in Caracas. Rather than create policies to contain the crime wave of kidnappings, home invasions, robberies, and assaults that are plaguing the country, Chávez has in fact encouraged violent crime, simplistically claiming that the poor have a right to take from the rich. The only problem with his logic is that the victims of violent crime are not limited to the upper and middle classes. In essence, Chávez is allowing common criminals in Caracas, and elsewhere, to run wild. He is hoping in this way to intimidate the opposition into submission, creating a sense of paranoia for the majority of Venezuelans, regardless of their political affiliation. Even Chavista senators have not been immune to kidnappings, robberies, and other such violent crimes that occur now on a daily basis.

So what has Chávez’s “revolution” accomplished in four and a half years? Its Bolivarian schools are a mess, most of them left half-built and poisoned by a simplistic curriculum that essentially teaches outdated Leftist propaganda, while offering no solid educational skills. The unemployment rate has risen to alarming levels, and currently Chávez has prohibited the use of U.S. dollars by anyone in the country, effectively choking most industries in Venezuela. The two-month work strike that was organized by the Confederacion de Trabajadores Venezolanos (CTV), the Venezuelan workers union, along with Fedecamaras fizzled out by late January. A strike of that duration and magnitude (ranging from store owners to the national petroleum company, Petroleos de Venezuela, known in Venezuela as PDVSA) has not been seen before. Any president (who is not a dictator) would have taken this as a sign to compromise and dialogue with the opposition. Chávez successfully rode out the strike because he was willing to let Venezuela free-fall into an economic crisis in order to maintain his hold on power. Some commentators have referred to this process as the “Cubanization” of Venezuela. By destroying the economy and bringing the country to its knees economically, Chávez can then attempt to rule over a demoralized and desperate populace.

One example of the “Cubanization” of Venezuela is the fact that Chávez supplies Fidel Castro’s regime with free oil on a regular basis, in exchange for assistance from medical doctors, teachers, and agricultural advisors. This “revolutionary” generosity towards Castro’s hopelessly outdated and corrupt regime (the longest running dictatorship in Latin America, currently celebrating four decades of absolute power) is inexcusable in a country where Venezuelan doctors and teachers are currently jobless. If the American and European Left continue to cling to the illusion of the Cuban Revolution as an alternative to Bush’s fascist imperial project, we will only be repeating the same mistake that the Left made in supporting Stalin from the 1930s until the 1950s. While Castro and Chávez are nowhere close to the “revolutionary” madness of Stalin’s gulags, they nonetheless embody a disturbing autocratic style of “tropical fascism” -- essentially a Leftist Caribbean version of consolidated and unquestionable power residing in one individual and his inviolable Party. I don’t mean to dismiss the concrete and symbolic gains of Castro’s revolution, in terms of education, medicine, and the principled anti-imperialist stance Cuba has taken against U.S. hegemony in Latin America. However, past gains cannot be used to support a form of government that consolidates power only into those hands holy enough to be “revolutionary.” It is no coincidence that many in the Venezuelan opposition refer to Chávez and his inner circle as “talibanes” (or Talibans) -- since they are fundamentalist in their desire for ultimate power and smug in their sense of “revolutionary” morality.

The recent events in Cuba in April 2003 provide a clear indication of the fascistic and dictatorial tendencies that motivate Chávez and his “talibanes” -- Castro being an intellectual mentor to the Chavista “process.” Approximately 75 dissident writers and journalists have been arrested and sentenced to between 5-30 years in jail for daring to add their voices to the Projecto Varela (a movement asking for democratic elections in Cuba, which was able to collect 11,000 signatures last year). The trial and execution by firing squad (within a matter of days) of three hijackers, who attempted to take a ferry from Havana to Miami, is another symptom of a desperate and essentially dictatorial regime. Before defending Cuba on grounds of national sovereignty against the incursions of U.S. imperialism, we should refer to the following books: Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas and Mea Cuba by Guillermo Cabrera Infante. These autobiographical accounts by two of Cuba’s most important writers (who were both a part of Castro’s revolution during its early stages) are a testament to the fact that artists are always a liability for revolutions that seek to perpetuate their grasp on power indefinitely.

Writers are always a threat to power, since we are bound to speak our individual and collective truths, beyond any affiliation within the static ideologies of Left or Right. While I cannot dismiss the work of brilliant Cuban poets, such as Sílvio Rodríguez, Cintio Vitier and Roberto Fernández Retamar, who stand behind Castro’s disastrous and tired regime, I believe their position is partly based on their high standing in Cuba’s cultural and government elite. If we humans are to survive these next few decades, we will have to learn how to untangle ourselves from allegiances to certain inflexible Leftist ideals that mirror the imperial project currently being imposed on the planet by Bush & co. How this might be accomplished is beyond my grasp. However, maintaining an awareness of fascist tendencies, whether on the Left or Right, is a crucial first step.


Kafka Revolution

“Here are my identification papers.” “What are
your papers to us?”cried the tall warder. “You’re
behaving worse than a child. What are you after?
Do you think you’ll bring this fine case of yours to
a speedier end by wrangling with us, your warders,
over papers and warrants.”
--Franz Kafka

In 1982, my Venezuelan father and North American mother went through a drawn-out and bitter divorce, which eventually led to my siblings (Ramiro and Isabel) and myself moving from Caracas to Florida. During the proceedings for that contentious divorce, while we were still in Caracas, our father had requested a “prohibición de salida” (a prohibition from leaving the country) at a municipal court for his three children, all underage at the time. When my mother received custody of us he had the prohibition lifted in the courthouse where he had originally filed the motion. Ramiro and I both returned to Caracas on various occasions throughout the 1990s, each time without incident. In the summer of 2002, however, I traveled with Isabel for her first time back to Venezuela in twenty years. We arrived on separate flights, and as I was passing through immigration (with my American passport) the official at the counter informed me that a prohibition of exit from Venezuela was listed on his computer records. He asked me if I had ever had any trouble getting in and out of Venezuela before, as he cryptically studied my passport and the computer screen. (I would later come to recognize this calm, but menacing, demeanor among other DIEX officials—a calm not unlike that of Joseph K.’s accusers in The Trial.) I pointed out the various stamps on my passport from previous visits and he let me through with a warning that I should contact the Venezuelan immigration offices in Caracas (referred by its acronym as the DIEX) to clear up this matter. I had not known about this legalistic footnote from our parents’ divorce until it appeared on the DIEX computer screen that night. This turned out to be the first ripple of paranoia that passed through me, and which would engulf Isabel and myself at the end of our visit with family in Caracas.

The paranoia arrived one month later, as Isabel attempted to board her early morning flight from Caracas to Boston, via Miami. She was detained at the DIEX counter, within view of my father and I, standing as we were behind the departure gates in the central lobby. For the next three hours we waited and talked with several DIEX officials who insisted that Isabel would not be able to leave Venezuela that morning. She was eventually able to retrieve her luggage and we sped toward the downtown DIEX offices for the first of many meetings. In the previous weeks we had consulted with two family members in Caracas who are lawyers. They had reassured us that, since we were no longer minors, or even Venezuelan citizens, we should ignore the warning I received upon entry to Caracas. The officials had no legal basis for detaining two U.S. citizens on a twenty-year old, expired court order.

Needless to say, we did not accomplish anything with the DIEX that first day -- we were told that, at best, we could apply at the tribunal courthouse for a cessation of the prohibition of exit order, which would take “a few weeks.” We rushed frantically to the U.S. Embassy, a recently-built fortress on the top of a mountain overlooking the East side of Caracas, where the official in charge of U.S. Citizen Affairs spoke with us and offered to investigate as to what little she might be able to do regarding our case. We filed a report with her office and she explained that, as we thought, that prohibition of exit should no longer be valid, since we were over 18 and not Venezuelan citizens. She emphasized the illegality of the DIEX’s pronouncement, and exasperatedly listed several other cases of people with U.S. passports experiencing similar sorts of harassment from the DIEX in recent months. Two U.S. business men, for instance, had recently been denied entry into Venezuela because their passports were due to expire in six months, even though they were only requesting thirty-day visas.

The next day we received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy official, who provided a contact for us to consult at the DIEX offices. I was told to arrive the following morning at this official’s office with a typed statement explaining our “situation.” After hanging up, I spent the rest of the day typing this absurd document in a legalese Spanish which attempted to explain why we should be allowed to leave the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela -- a task which I was fortunate to be aided in by our family’s neighbor, a lawyer. I moved between the computer and the television, where images of that day’s march (July 11th) in commemoration of the events three months before, were being broadcast continually -- a march which again drew over one million anti-Chávez protesters to the streets of Caracas.

Since Isabel had not been able to sleep much at night, she waited at our house while my father and I underwent a morning’s worth of meetings with various DIEX officials in the labyrinthine offices of their central downtown headquarters. It would be tedious to recount the genuflection required of my father and I as we pleaded with and tried to explain our case to these officials, who, to our benefit, seemed to agree on the absurdity of our situation. These, I now realize, were members of “the process” who are often called “Chavistas light,” because of their antipathy to the more shrill, uncompromising elements of the Bolivarian “revolution.” At one point, a calm official explained that our situation was the result of the improved computer system which the DIEX had just installed last year, suggesting that this was the first time in twenty years that “things are working as they should be in our files.” Another calm, friendly official referred to the three “minors” listed in the court document—at which point I had to explain to him that those “minors” no longer existed, my mustache and Isabel’s height clearly indicating our current adult status, twenty years after that document’s filing date.

We were allowed to leave several days later, with a provisional permit for exiting the country. We had to pay for Isabel’s new ticket and, as I write this, our father is waiting for this prohibition of exit to be annulled from court records, a feat which could take months or years to be officially signed by a judge, somewhere in the courts of “the process.” I am writing this from the privileged standpoint of someone with a U.S. passport. Without the contacts provided by the U.S. Embassy, Isabel and I would most likely still be in Caracas, enjoying the benefits of “the process.” What makes this minor episode so ridiculous is that this is happening in what was once one of the most technologically advanced and cosmopolitan cities of Latin America. When I think back on last summer, I can see the endless lines of people at the DIEX, crowded into the halls of that office building, reaping the slowness and “revolutionary” bureaucracy of “the process.”

Caracas Poets

Drenched in magic, my blood flows
toward you beneath dawn’s prophecy.
--Juan Sánchez Peláez

On the night before Isabel’s attempted departure, we attended a poetry reading at the Librería Macondo, a small independent bookstore in Sabana Grande, the massive pedestrian boulevard that stretches through miles of downtown Caracas, from the gates of the Universidad Central de Venezuela (the country’s oldest university) to the streets surrounding Plaza Francia in Altamira, the symbolic center of the opposition movement against Chávez. The reading was the last in a series organized by the poet Maria Antonieta Flores, who had just concluded teaching a year-long poetry workshop at the Romulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies (known by its Spanish acronym, CELARG). In three separate readings, her graduating students were paired with an established writer. That night the featured poet was Leonardo Padrón, whose book Boulevard had just been published in February. Padrón’s collection takes the valley of Caracas as its subject, offering unflinching and elegiac glimpses of the metropolis as both myth and daily habit. The work in this collection alternates between concise prose poems and frantic verses, evoking the poet’s notebook as a parallel image of the city it inhabits. The untitled opening text frames Caracas as the universal City, carrying traces of other locations on every block:

Day breaks. The dawn, they will have guessed, is gray. A man walks through Washington Square, Sabana Grande or Via Venetto. Through Amsterdam’s delirium, Sao Paulo’s perfumes or Barcelona’s avenues. That man is a native of the cement, a resident of damage and splendor. That man—the alphabet tells us—is festive and humble. Without him knowing, the city molds his vision by one millimeter. “He who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles,” swears Allen Ginsberg.

Day breaks.

The cathedrals’ morning enthusiasm happens.

In a city as loud as Caracas, it was a revelation to be able to sit so quietly in a room with fifty other people, listening to a group of poets read from their typed sheaves. All of us in the audience sat completely still, in fold-out chairs and on the carpet in between bookshelves, breathing in the words as we would prayers. The readers sensed our attentiveness and read beautifully, momentarily re-imagining the crippled city outside. In her introductory remarks that evening, Maria Antonieta Flores described poetry as an entity belonging to no one, that is passed on from person to person and country to country. Each of us left the bookstore that night carrying those poets’ images and rhythms gratefully. Although the crisis outside that room had not been mentioned by any of the readers, we could feel it momentarily dissipate, millimeter by millimeter.

During my month in Caracas, I carried its poets with me everywhere. As Isabel and I visited family, walked countless avenues, sat in parks watching Mount Avila hover over the city, passed through museums & bookstores, rode in buses and subway cars, I consciously invoked poems to help ward off the disintegration present in all aspects of daily life in Caracas. Even before Chávez’s misguided adventures in simplistic and poorly-executed Che Guevara imitations, Caracas has long been a city attuned to death and chaos mingling with beauty. Martha Kornblith, a poet born in Lima, Peru and raised in Caracas, wrote poems that evoked the nightmare of Venezuela Saudita’s decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She committed suicide in her late thirties, in 1997, leaving behind the confessional book of poems Oraciones para un dios ausente (1994) [Prayers for an Absent God], as well as two other collections. Kornblith had been a member of a group of writers named Eclepsidra, who were committed to investigating their visions of a fractured and passionate Caracas. (One of that group’s members, the novelist Israel Centeno, has recently received death threats from certain Chavistas, who resent the fact that writers might not share the same “revolutionary” vision of Venezuela that they and their supreme commander hold up as gospel.) In a fragment from her poem “Family Saga,” Kornblith evokes the city in perpetual crisis that Caracas has become:

To go one Saturday
afternoon to a bookstore
without realizing
how dull we were,
plagiarizing even
curses and suicide.
To go one Saturday to the
to copy Silvia Plath
or the closest neighbor.
Although either way,
almost everything always converged
in misfortune
it was an argument
to suddenly encounter
a current of vision
and run back to my house
to write a poem
about this city
I hate so much.

Saturday is a day to hate
this city
to hate this city
and its poets
until death

In April of 2001, the poet Juan Sánchez Peláez, now in his eighties—whose visionary and surreal first book Elena y los elementos (Elena and the Elements, 1951) inaugurated postmodern Venezuelan poetry—published four poems in the newspaper El Universal.

Aside from a poem in Octavio Paz’s magazine Vuelta, he had not published anything for over a decade when these poems appeared. In his own enigmatic and silent manner, Sánchez Peláez warned us, as Tiresias had done so often before, that Venezuela was crashing into something unimaginable:

We are surrounded by strangeness
with its spring that drinks us

Strange, the red grapes
we’ll continue chewing

the vast April moments
where your path and mine
might coincide
at the edge of thick trees
and beloved countries

crude winter’s guard
stalks us
and we ignore the weight of our arms
if they’ll be of any use
if the air will be fresh or humid in April
or if the flowering grenadine will sustain us in distress.


—Boston, May 2003
Some Sources:

El Nacional []
El Universal [] (includes articles in English)
Venezuela’s oldest and most important newspapers.

Tal Cual []
A left-of-center, opposition newspaper, founded three years ago by Teodoro Petkoff, a former guerrilla leader and one-time Chávez associate, who was a co-founder of the political party Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) [Movement Toward Socialism].

The New York Times []
Articles by Juan Forero and Ginger Thompson have been, for the most part, objective and have offered relatively in-depth analysis of the crisis.

Antiescualidos []
Website that offers the perspective of the most radical sections of Chávez’s supporters, the so-called “Talibanes” of “the process.”

El Meollo []
Literary website maintained by the novelist Israel Centeno.


-- Jeremy Adelman, “Andean Impasses,” New Left Review 18, Nov/Dec 2002. []
-- Richard Gott, In the Shadow of the Liberator: Hugo Chávez and the Transformation of Venezuela (London: Verso, 2000).
--Martha Kornblith, Oraciones para un dios ausente (Caracas: Monte Avila Editores, 1994).
--Barry C. Lynn, “Chaos and Constitution,” Mother Jones, Jan/Feb 2003. []
--Leonardo Padrón, Boulevard (Caracas: Cincuenta de Cincuenta Ediciones, 2002).
Juan Sánchez Peláez, Poesía: 1951-1989 (Caracas: Monte Avila Editores, 1993).
--Gregory Wilpert, “Collision in Venezuela,” New Left Review 21, May/June 2003.

posted by EILEEN | 10:28 AM


Just read an e-mail with the word "rollerskating" in it and read said word as "translating"...

posted by EILEEN | 9:54 AM


48:4 When we walk in a dense forest everything clings to us. We sense the pull of inert forms on all sides, inert with one exception: when we brush past the thorny stalks of a creeper, nature seems to check our progress with the fingers of a living hand drawing us towards it. Liana--you hyphenated vegetable-animal, your silent supple clawings evoke the supreme loveliness of the human touch.
--from Sens-Plastique by Malcolm de Chazal

With this post, I’m delighted to present Guillermo Parras translating into English a few poems by Venezuelan poets Elizabeth Schon and Patricia Guzman. (Note that Patricia Guzman has an accent over the “a’ in her last name but I haven’t figgered that out on blogger format.)

As an aside, Guillermo notes that: “the friend of mine who visited Schon a few years ago also said that Schon is very connected to trees--and that since her husband died she always associates him with trees--that their strength and growth, for her, often symbolize her husband's presence.” I found this very interesting as, synchronistically, Barry Schwabsky just alerted me to the wonderful writings -- specifically Sens-Plastique -- of Malcolm de Chazal (which moved me to write some (modest) poems over at my “Gasps” and “Hay(na)ku” poem blogs). Chazal, like Schon, apparently felt a strong connection with nature, as in this excerpt from the information on the wonderful Duration Press:

The idea behind Sens-Plastique may best be described in Chazal's own words, as translated by Irving Weiss:

My philosophical position in this work derives from the principle that man and nature are entirely continuous, and that all parts of the human body and all expressions of the human face, including their feelings, can actually be discerned in plants, flowers, and fruits, and to an even greater extent in our other selves, animals. And although minerals are usually considered inanimate, death-like rather than life-like, I would have them also tend towards that supreme synthesis, the human form, especially when they are in motion. "Man was made in the image of God," but beyond that I declare that "Nature was made in the image of man."

But I could never have done this by reasoning. I had to rely on subconscious thinking, the only intuitive resource available to humans--which few of us ever use in an entire lifetime. . . .I should add that I could never have learned to think subconsciously without years of ascetic withdrawal. depriving my body, isolating my self, concentrating my mind and spirit. . . until by stages I had perfected what I consider to be a totally new method of writing.

I am taken by Chazal’s words partly because -- in case you peeps haven’t figured out yet -- I am preparing for, cough, hermitry -- and am wondering how mine will turn out; it certainly would be lovely to end up finding said “a totally new method of writing.”

But, more relevantly to this blog post, the notion of landscape is also integral to Guillermo’s way of translation. Here are his words on what he calls his “Geronimonian translation methods”:

i feel like translation was imposed on my life from a young age (moving back and forth between Caracas & Boston, then Florida later) so that i associate it with my physical body as well as my mind--currently, translating Venezuelan poets allows me to be in Caracas somehow, to recover and share words, places that I've lost--personal footnote: i studied at the Naropa Institute (briefly) in the early 1990s when i first began writing poetry and during a workshop with Allen Ginsberg one of the few comments he gave me on my poems was that one of them sounded like "translationese"--to this day I still am disturbed by his observation, but i assume he was seeing some awkwardness in my language or tone that carried over from my body's movements during childhood & adolescence.

For me, knowing not only the language but the places where it is spoken (in my case the valley of Caracas) is crucial. I don't think i could translate without having some sense of the place the words and author come from. However, i've translated some poems by Peruvian writers (Javier Sologuren, Cesar Moro) and feel a similar connection to them, without having been to Peru.

Guillermo and I began discussing translation, in part, because it’s also a current topic on the Flips Listserve (of Filipino writers or anyone interested in Filipino literature). Such discussion touched on what Guillermo describes as “the specter of imperialism to be aware of when a first world translator works with texts from the so-called third world (Aijaz Ahmad's "In Theory" comes to mind as a great analysis of these uneven relationships).”

Moreover, Guillermo – and others on the Flips Listserve noted the importance of the translator needing to be acquainted with the translatee’s culture and context. I’m going to quote poet, fiction writer and hopefully future vineyard manager (wink) Bino A. Realuyo, author of the novel The Umbrella Country, here because I think it’s useful to hear the perspective of someone being translated. Bino sez he feels:

a translator must have insight in the development of the former (original) language. for instance, i carry with me everywhere i go NERUDA's Residencia en La Tierra in its first bilingual spanish/english translation. i absolutely love and enjoy the english translation. i thought the translator understood neruda's chilean origins as well as the fact that his spanish might have changed from having lived in so many countries as a diplomat. plus, i get to improve my spanish too.

i feel that when u translate, u transform more than the words, but the culture, the moment, the poet as well.

i think it will be a crime to translate works of anyone unless the translator has lived in the country where the translatee comes from. and really deeply understand the author, his passion, his work, and the world he lived in at the time of the writing. i have a friend who wanted to translate my work to spanish and we couldn't even agree on the translation of the title of my book. he says, (los) PARAGUAS, i say, SOMBRIA. and i say sombria, because the word has multiple meanings…..


The nature of translation is obviously more complicated than I can touch on here (though I’m open to receiving and printing more feedback). Yes, the discussions ended up referencing Benjamin, too but….let me move on. Let me move on to the nub of the matter: the poems themselves. Here are the Venezuelan poems, each followed by Guillermo’s translations:

First three poems from Elizabeth Schon, "Antologia poetica" (Caracas: Monte Avila Editores, 1998)

3 sections from "Arbol del oscuro acercamiento" (1994) / "Tree of the Dark Approach"

"En el centro de la semilla el comienzo
en el centro de la luz la penumbra
La ciudad
llanto, ceguera, estupor
El sol aposenta en el alma
La lluvia cae entre las hierbas
y desaparece
Las copas se vuelcan
desbordan el convulso valle intimo del desamparo
La mirada no se asombra frente al paso
hacia la sombra del arbol."


In the center of the seed beginning
in the center of light, dimness
The city
wailing, blindness, stupor
The sun sits in the soul
The rain falls among herbs
and disappears
The cups tip over
They flood abandonment's convulsive, intimate valley
The vision is not surprised in front of the steps
toward the tree's shadow.


"Se contraen las siluetas
dejadas al amparo de la ciudad
El mutismo respalda la palabra
La sombra del arbol
en los ocultos parajes de la piel
en la paradoja del corazon
y su anhelo de cavidad
cumbre, soledad
Y no hay oposicion
entre las redes continuas del agua
y las del viento
entre los extremos de la tierra
y la figura doble de los espejismos
La mirada dirige las distancias
coloca el punto
La voz estabiliza el vacio
abre el olvido
El arbol aguarda."

The silhouettes contract
abandoned to the city's protection
Muteness sustains the word
The tree's shadow
in the skin's hidden ledges
in the heart's paradox
and its desire for absence
summit, solitude
And there is no opposition
among the water's continuous webs
and those of the wind
among the earth's extremes
and a double figure of hallucinations
The vision directs distances
places the point
The voices stabilize the void
opens oblivion
The tree awaits.


si desaparecen los contrarios
y un insito alumbramiento
se riega en transparente y dulce
comunidad de hierbas."

Be calm
if the contraries disappear
while the integral light
scatters a sweet and translucent
community of herbs.


Elizabeth Schon, "Del rio hondo aqui" (Caracas: Editorial Diosa Blanca, 2000)

1 section from "Del rio hondo aqui" / "From the Deep River Here"

"La extension del alma es el silencio."

The soul's extension is silence.


Patricia Guzman (1960)

one poem from "Canto de oficio" (Caracas: Editorial Pequena Venecia, 1997).

1 section from "Canto de oficio" / "Duty Song":

"He pasado toda la noche debajo de los pajaros
Donde queda el dolor?
Al final del pajaro blanco que se tumba contra mi
No hagas ruido
Si respiras, le moveras las alas
Separate sin comer
Tu estomago esta lleno de angeles dormidos
Oyes cuanta agua tienes en el corazon?
Los muertos ya se fueron
Dispon el mantel e invita
Es bueno que se sepa
Yo grito mientras duermo
He pasado toda la noche debajo de los pajaros"

I have spent the entire night beneath the birds
Where is pain?
At the end of the white bird lumbering toward me
Don't make noise
If you breathe, you'll move its wings
Isolate yourself without eating
Your stomach is full of sleeping angels
Can you hear how much water you have in your heart?
The dead have already left
Place the mantle and invite the guests
It's good that it be known
I scream while I sleep
I have spent the entire night beneath the birds

posted by EILEEN | 12:56 AM


On August 6 and 7, I had written about Colombian author poet Alvaro Mutis, which led Boston-based poet Guillermo Parra to write. He was moved to squawk at me, despite my lack of a squawkbox, partly because, as he put it about my August 10 blog post (that really is worth revisiting in my Archives because it’s very entertaining, if I do say so myself):

" had me laughing out loud with the story of the machista waiter in the Caracas restaurant--and then "Ben" taking the gum out of his mouth after tasting the wine!--unfortunately, the machismo in Venezuela is ridiculously out of hand, as you saw--you'll be happy to know however that in the last couple decades there has been a tremendous increase in the number of women poets publishing and amplifying the up until then male-dominated poetry scenes--

i'm hoping to publish an anthology of Venezuelan poets (20th cent.) in English translation sometime in the (distant) future and some of the best poets are women: Jacqueline Goldberg, Martha Kornblith, Ana Enriqueta Teran, Elizabeth Schon, Yolanda Pantin, Patricia Guzman & others--

but, yes, your anecdote brought me back to the entrenched ridiculousness of machismo in Venezuela--one last item re: Venepoets--last summer in Caracas i was trying to get in touch w/ Juan Sanchez Pelaez to ask his permission for putting together some translations--i never did reach him (although my uncle remembers meeting his brother in the 1970s, as fellow doctors) but i found out that he lives with his wife in a neighborhood called Los Palos Grandes, which is at the foot of Monte Avila—

when you walk around that neighborhood the mountain looks like a massive, frozen green wave that's hovering over you--you can feel it floating there in all its shades of greens, crowned by clouds--

whenever i read his poems i imagine the mountain somehow seeping into his manuscripts from above--he publishes very infrequently (his last collection was "Aire sobre el aire") but he did publish some poems in the newspaper "El Universal" in the spring of 2001--in case you're interested, they're at:

i'm not sure when i'll get to return to Caracas because of a Kafka-esque computer error that showed up last summer for my sister and I--we were being denied exit from Caracas to return to Boston (a long story, we ended up having to seek help from the US Embassy)--anyone w/ a US passport is being harrassed at immigration in Caracas during the last year or so--

Chavez and his gangsters (dubbed by many in the opposition as "los talibanes" because of their fundamentalist rhetoric) are unfortunately the worst disaster to have hit Venezuela since the War of Independence--i'm currently trying to petition to get my father out of there--poets and writers are under constant pressure in Caracas right now, since Chavez considers most intellectuals as dangerous and "oligarchic"--a huge mess, but my translation work has helped me to balance out all of the horrific events of the last four years--

forgive my wandering email--your post got me thinking about Caracas--i look forward to reading more of your excellent posts and i will drink some coffee too (sip) as i read--"


Gracias Guillermo. Subsequent to his e-mail, I followed up by asking for samples of poems by Venezuelan women poets as well as additional information about the situation he describes for poets and writers in Venezuela. This is the type of discussion that makes me continue blogging -- even as I have wondered whether I should continue. Those who’ve read me from the beginning might recall that I initially started blogging as a one-month fundraiser project and, geez, let me tell you I am the first to be amazed at the torrent that keeps torrenting forth from mah mouth.

But the Internet is such a huge space that one never knows what happens with whatever you put out there. In this case, the next few blogs shall feature poems by Venezuelan women poets as well as an essay by Guillermo on the Venezuelan condition. I’m pleased to feature this focus because I think the test of a successful blog is how much and in what way that blog comes to engage in dialogue with others that originally were not part of your circle of friends or acquaintances.

Obviously, in order to attract others, you have to be writing something interesting or writing well. And yet, given the blog, much of what is written is also diaristic, about one’s self. How does one write about one’s life in a way that others -- strangers -- will find meaningful?

Well, it’s like writing a poem…

posted by EILEEN | 12:44 AM

Thursday, August 28, 2003  


So we have a new U.S. Poet Laureate. For a report, you can go to

In reading above report, the second item that caught my interest was this paragraph:

She has two ex-husbands and a son, Noah, 30, who is a sommelier in San Francisco. Gluck said she likes a little wine herself every now and then. A Chateau Pavie cheval blanc is her preference.

So who's the idiot copyeditor at the Washington Post? There is no such thing as a "Chateau Pavie cheval blanc." There are such things as two different wines: Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pavie. Both are from the St. Emilion region of Bordeaux. Cheval Blanc is not technically considered a "First Growth" because the 1855 Classification excluded St. Emilion -- but it is considered as good as any of the other First Growths.

Chateau Pavie is not a First Growth, but it actually produced arguably the best (or as good as any other) Bordeaux wine in 2000.

From the 2000 vintage, Chateau Pavie sells for about $200-250 while Cheval Blanc goes for $500-$600 a bottle. (Cheval Blanc is actually one of my favorites, too, but for obvious reasons I don't imbibe it that often....)

Now, Poetry World -- where else would you get such .... poetics material?

Sip....yah: it should be either of these two wines but it's not....

posted by EILEEN | 5:28 PM


And in the current issue of BOOG CITY, here's an article on Meritage Press -- my leeeeetle press -- written by Jane Sprague!

MERITAGE PRESS, St. Helena and San Francisco, CA
Publisher & Editor: Eileen Tabios

Reflecting how poets make instead of inherit language, the press is named after "meritage," a word created to describe the Bordeaux-style of wine-making that uses California-grown grapes. Meritage style combines the grapes of cabernet, cabernet franc and merlot to create a wine characterized by robustness in flavor, bouquet, color and body - symbolizing the passion underlying the vision of Meritage's artists.

Poet Eileen Tabios began publishing Meritage Press in 2001 with the intention of publishing printed matter including books, chapbooks, artist's books and broadsides while creating a performance art space to enact aesthetic explorations toward political and cultural goals. Tabios has said, "I like to mix up books with more intimate projects...I think it's because poetry, ultimately, is an intimate form."

Her vision is to have as much of a multidisciplinary approach as possible. The first publication, "Cold Water Flat," by John Yau and Archie Rand, is a limited edition etching and text collaboration (2001) followed by 100 More Jokes From The Book of the Dead, a monograph depicting an etchings-based collaboration by Yau and Rand, with an essay by Yau (2001). 100 More Jokes From The Book of the Dead garnered media coverage from The Poetry Project Newsletter, Columbia University Spectator and The Education Digest in addition to exposure it received through Rand's exhibitions. In 2002 Meritage published er, um, a limited edition chapbook of ten poems by Garrett Caples and ink drawings by Hu Xin, and a poetry e-chapbook, selections from A Museum of Absences, by Luis H. Francia, which deals with the psychological and poetic aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.

As a one-person publishing endeavor (and the assistance of a poet-intern) Tabios spends a year working on the production of each book. The latest Meritage book, OPERA: Poems 1981-2002, by Barry Schwabsky exemplifies Tabios' intent for the press, which is "to publish those who otherwise may not ever be published, a difficulty beyond the general poetry threshold difficulty. In (Schwabsky's) case, this is a poet who's been invisible in the poetry scene for over a decade, despite a brilliant start by being published in POETRY at age 19! OPERA encompasses 21 years of writing which occurred outside of any poetry scenes, having been developed mostly in private."

OPERA is a remarkable book. Ideas of song, language play, and delicate negotiations of desire and love create poetry deft and strange- strangely beautiful and bound with dual meanings, the piecing apart of things, of language, of the unsaid, the left out, the impossible to contain. From the title poem, "Opera":

Corrected hair. Face smooth
as mirror. Unsurpassable song.
Living death. Unhanded. Unhanded.
Theatrical weeping. "He" becomes "she"
and "you" becomes "he" and "we"
becomes "we" becomes "we" becomes "we."
Pears shaped like apples. Pears
that taste like apples that taste like grapes. (10)

Schwabsky pairs words with their opposite and twins images that resonate in the ear and on the page. Words are repeated, then altered, then paired again or broken apart newly, revealing other hidden/revealed aspects of the voices between this "we" grappling with the doubleness of desire and experience and their (our) shared complications. The final poem:


Favorable moonlight
in all directions. Don't try
and make it real. You'll never have that experience
long enough to write about. Someone else's voice

will have to burn with it. You keep
starting something you don't know how to stop
but it stops. (102)

The doubleness of love, desire, of thinking in language, emotion and image in simultaneity and how to reconcile aspects of "we" among others, of individuals in the blur of longing where boundaries mesh, dissolve, break and give way to something more: those moments of "the nothing / but desire / you've seen / I am." (45)

The next Meritage endeavor is its new imprint, BABAYLAN, a Bisayan word that can be translated to mean Poet-Priestess. "The Babaylans were storytellers, healers and community leaders in the Philippines whose positions were disrupted by the invasion of Spanish colonizers over four centuries ago. BABAYLAN resurrects itself in the 21st century to facilitate the dissemination of Filipino literature.

Through BABAYLAN, Tabios plans to publish PINOYPOETICS, an anthology of English-language Filipino poets discussing their poetics, edited by Nick Carbo, scheduled for release in 2004.

Meritage Press books are available through Small Press Distribution (SPD) and directly from the publisher at:

posted by EILEEN | 12:03 PM


David Kirschenbaum sent me the following e-mail to disseminate so I am insem, uh, disseminating:

Please forward

d.a. levy lives: celebrating the renegade press in America

This month’s featured press:
Meritage Press (St. Helena and San Francisco, Calif.)

Thurs. Sept. 11, 6 p.m., free

Aca Galleries
529 W.20th St., 5th Flr.

Event will be hosted by Meritage Press publisher and editor Eileen Tabios

Featuring readings from Meritage Press contributors, including:

Oliver de la Paz
Luis H. Francia
Eric Gamalinda
Sarah Gambito
Paolo Javier
Joseph O. Legaspi
Patrick Rosal

With music from Simone White

There will be wine, cheese, and fruit, too.

Curated and with an introduction by Boog City editor David Kirschenbaum

Directions: C/E to 23rd St., 1/9 to 18th St.
Venue is bet. 10th and 11th avenues

For further information call 212-842-BOOG (2664) or

Next month: The Owl Press

David A. Kirschenbaum, editor and publisher
Boog City
330 W.28th St., Suite 6H
NY, NY 10001-4754
T: (212) 842-BOOG (2664)
F: (212) 842-2429


Here's more info about these poets:

Poet, novelist and visual artist Eric Gamalinda, author of the deservedly award-winning collection Zero Gravity (with a sample poem here)

Poet, editor and critic Luis H. Francia, whose e-chapbook Selections From The Museum of Absences was published by Meritage Press

Patrick Rosal, author of the recently-released Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive who's an extremely hip cat, too boot (O Puss 'N Boots?) with a sample poem here

The absolutely DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS and former National Poetry Series Finalist Sarah Gambito with some of the lushest hair on this planet, with sample poems here

Award winning poet and teacher Oliver de la Paz with sample poems here.

Poet, critic and publisher Paolo Javier who's survived yet another summer at Bard, with sample poems here at Jack Kimball's The East Village

NYFA Poetry Awardee Joseph O. Legaspi with sample poems here

posted by EILEEN | 12:52 AM

From A New Category: "This Better Result In A New Poem!"

Nais kong awitin
ang bawat tilamsik
ng dugong bumukal
sa parang...
--from "Nais Kong Llimun ang mga Alabok" by Jesus Manuel Santiago

I want to sing
each drop
of blood
that spurted from mountainside...
--translated by Marne Kilates into "Let Me Gather The Ashes"

The mountain and all its denizens -- flora and fauna -- laughed so hard at me today that the landscape almost buckled and took down the entire Diablo Mountain range. Did you Bay Area peeps feel an earthquake in late afternoon or was that simply the rude animals' uncivilized hoots shooting through my charmingly-shaped ears to fry up the teensy remainders of my brain?

Said hoots even brought down a hawk. 'Twas surfing the air above my roof. Swooped down. Beady eyes. Beak opened to join in the chorus of


Well: SAY MY NAME AND DON'T CALL ME DUFUS. All because, today, I did something I've never done before: weeded. Yeah: I had brand new gardening gloves (green suede!) and a shiny trowel (trowel, that's what you call that miniature spade, right?). There I was spankingly-gloved and brandishing the trowel at a bumblebee before I danced on over to the mud patch, uh, garden of flowers that I'd put in with Walmart specials a couple of months ago.

I should back-up here to explain that I had chosen flowers based on their colors: annuals, perennials, shmuels -- I spent formative years in a New York City apartment, okay?! Then I judiciously spaced said colors across the mud patch (it's "mud" because though it's hot and dry here, I bought one of those holey hoses that I turn on very lavishly since the property has enough water to support a vineyard but....I have yet to plant a single vine notwithstanding perhaps 20 literary journals out there professing a "bio" of me as a budding grape farmer).

But I never knew those $5.99 teensy buckets would spread so rapidly and grow so rapidly and etcetera etcetera so rapidly. Grew and grew in a riot of colours. It wasn't Monet's garden in Giverny, but it was close!

The weeds, however, grew as robustly. After watching them irritate the roses for a few weeks, I went on down to Ted's Hardware Store this weekend for necessary weeding equipment. The guys figured out it was my first time and tried to sell me a tractor larger than my garage. Hah! Of course, genius-Moi sniffed at their efforts, tucked the Brooklyn Bridge under my left arm, and carried gloves and trowel with the right.

Anyway, I'm on a mountain. So assume the land slopes. So I start weeding and am astonished -- nay, appalled -- to learn that those weeds are stubborn buggers to get out!!! I'da thought -- and did thought -- that you just pull 'em out, right? Oh, no! This is -- as an old lady at a local store ranted at me the other weekend (a story for another day) -- THE COUNTRY, MY DEAR -- THIS IS THE COUNTRY!!! So, things grow here -- IN THE COUNTRY! So even the smallest clump of weeds typically had rootstalks the length of my lovely legs!

Well, okay, as I was saying, the land slopes. At one point, I am bent over but facing up on said slope and trying to take out a clump of weeds. I'd already hacked the earth around the roots trying to loosen it. Hack hack hack. Finally, I put down the trowel and grabbed the plant around its base. I pull. No budging. Pull again. Now, the squirrels and woodpeckers and hummingbirds (the latter being particularly miffed as I was interrupting their cocktail hour) have lined up by the side of the road to watch the sweating, ranting human wrestle a plant.

Picked up trowel, hacked earth once more, put down trowel, and grabbed base of weed plant again. And moi pulled again. Did a couple of quite unlady-like grunts even as I pulled. I pulled and pulled and pulled until -- yadda -- I pulled out the weed with the longest root stalk I have ever seen....

and watched -- time suddenly becoming slow motion here -- said long root stalk leave earth in front of my eyes and whip up in a slow, gorgeous arc over my head ....with said arc continuing on behind my head ....such that my lovely body also arced backward, my eyes following the line it was drawing against air, until I fell hard on my ass.

My head, however, continued to fall back ....even as I began rolling down the mountain on my ass until my head ended up resting against the base of a lovely rose bush with lovely red roses....

and thorns.

Oh! How the smallest gash doth engender the lushest petals of blood to form a veritable Empress among...roses!


Fil, Roy and Glen -- I'm an only girl with three brothers. Growing up, I was called "Rose Among The Thorns" by my cheek-pinching relatives. "Rose" is my middle name. As I laid there looking up at the underside of a rose bush, my uncut hair flung back to swathe the nearby crocuses (actually, I don't know that they're called crocuses -- I still don't know the names of the other plants besides the rose bush), the small animals nearby giggling hysterically, the wild turkeys shitting prunes in excitement, I thought of my old nickname....such that, I also thought of my brothers.

And as I laid there parallel to the sky -- lapis lazuli today over the mountain uncontrollably heaving its chest from mirth -- I got pissed off yet again that I used to do more household chores than my brothers when we were growing up because I was a girl. Like, you know, I'd have to wash dishes after dinner every night but the "male" chore of, say, taking out the garbage only occurred once a week -- and there were three of them!!! So, after I hauled my head (suddenly turned Catholic with its crown of thorns) away from the bush, entered the house and cleaned myself up (lick a blood drop here, lick a blood drop there...dum da dum dum), I called up my oldest brother to rant and rail at him for the unfairness of the household chore division when we were children.

So what if it's about 30 years later? Hell hath no furry like an irritated sister,....Sister! And the sisters from the 8 million Peeps raise their hands and proclaim, THAT IS AN AMEN, SISTER!

Cough, anyway....Dang if it's impossible for me to tell a story without interrupting myself into an Alice-in-Wonderland....BREATHE, SISTER AND RETURN TO THE STORY...

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, so there I was calling up my big brother undoubtedly having a lovely relaxing evening in Texas until moi called to rant and rave.

But I made the mistake of telling him first of my weeding experience as said experience was how I'd segued -- stream of consciousness-style -- into how falling into a rose bush led to my childhood nickname that, in turn, led to the unfairness of the household chore allocations....

Fughetabout it. I never had the chance to rant and rail at him over the whole male chauvinistic practice engaged in by la familia. His guffaws got stuck on my weeding ass sliding down the mountain onto a thorny rose bush.

So. I hung up on big brother and, fingers tap tapping against desk, mulled over how else I might clear the furrow from my lovely brow. Then the lightbulb blinded me! I should just log on to tell you Eight Million Peeps instead! Well, okay! So:

So, today, I weeded for the first time and....

posted by EILEEN | 12:24 AM

Wednesday, August 27, 2003  


In November, I moderate a panel on poets' writing processes (more details to come). On my panel -- they begged to participate(wink) -- will be the lovely Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and the equally fetching Arthur Sze. So if anyone out there has a question they would want to ask either of these two poets, given the chance to ask them about their writing processes, please feel free to share with me. E-mail to me and I can post a follow-up report later!


posted by EILEEN | 10:59 AM


My blog also specializes in the tweak.
--from a Corpse e-mail to Elaine Equi

Well now. So Corpse sets her bony ass down and stretches out her Nike-shod bones after her morning jog through blogland. Flexes bony fingers. So what shall I say, she thinks with an enchanting glimmer within her sockets. This, then:

This is the first paragraph of Ron Silliman's post today:

I normally am sitting down when I read anything online, so I must have looked a little awkward jumping for joy at The Skeptic John Erhardt’s response to my inclusion of Bob Grenier’s Sentences in my list of essential titles the other day. My knees hit the underside of the keyboard tray. Well, not my knees but my quadricep muscles, such as they are. But you get the point.

It's a post that's garnering some attention -- as of my read this morning, there were 10 squawks in his squawkbox, and other blogs are commenting (e.g. Henry Gould and Jonathan Mayhew).

But the primo point that must be made refers to why I excerpt Ron's first paragraph above. You see, I believe I'm influencing Ron's writing style -- look at that paragraph again. The point, surely, ain't too subtle. In fact, I suspect that the first draft of the last sentence of above paragraph (before he must have edited it as he wouldn't want me preceding him in his lineage) was worded as

"But, dang, you get the point."


(P.S. To Ron: Now, now -- Corpse wags bony finger. Don't pout -- I'm raising your cultural capital with all this attention I'm lavishing on you....)

posted by EILEEN | 10:54 AM



a poet into permanent taboos--
source is everlasting
--from "Nothing Can Cross Here" by Li Bloom

Yes, "source is everlasting." My comments will take place partly through hay(na)ku that surfaced as I read Li's poems. And as many -- including Catherine as regards the readings of Noah and Kasey which I'm sad to have missed -- have said, if something inspires poems, that's a testament to the effectiveness of the work. After each hay(na)ku below will be the bracketed title of Li's poem. I encourage all to check out Li's book.

write your
own song: Sing!
[-- after "Yeah, Singin'"]


a stone:
forgiveness, zucchini, Heaven
[-- after "Baby Blue Dog"]



float me
in my story
[--after "Tear"]


I abhor
--oh! -- unhappy orgasms!
[--after "Oh NO"]


to whomever
in the background
[--after "Progeny"]


There was even a "found" Dyslexic Hay(na)ku from Li's poem "Tear":

Dali, you I
aren't me

I am equally taken by Mary Burke's paintings -- one of which is reproduced as the cover image and others featured as black-and-white images throughout RADISH. I admired how each mark created another layer of space -- and this effect is particularly admirable as reproductions on a flat page!

There is a juxtapository effect in Burke's scrawls and layers and brushstrokes and fragmented imagery. Yet it all jells together into a harmonious whole -- this effect is not easy to pull off while still presenting an ease about the process, as Burke does.

Possibly, my favorite image was "Painting: Red Line Study" for how it evoked a fraying grid. (In terms of my personal practice -- which is not to say *all* of Poetry -- the notion of a grid is inimical to poems -- quite often, those lines must break or bend, albeit with the discipline of intention (including hindsight intention).)

And juxtapositions are relevant (I think) to Li's texts -- in Li's poems, meaning becomes secondary to other -- more "material" -- aspects of words like sound, rhythm....a sum of abstract energy that suffices to create significance from what might seem to be nonsense, e.g., from "Terms of the Apple," a wonderful denouement poem for the collection:

love forever
chastens lavender butterfly

I appreciate how the words "chastens" and "lavender" lap at each other. It's subtle because I would have thought that a more vivid (and livid) color like a primary would lend itself to being chastened. But lavender....?!! Poetic, indeed, Li! This one through the unexpected....and Beauty.

In "A Farewell After All," Li writes

I am anxious, can a distinguished book
Still make a woman feel good?

Ach, Li! Over RADISH, you definitely should feel good! Woman feel good!



To be inside is to not be // sad. It is hard to imagine
--from "a poem" by Nick Moudry

I adore this chap, put out by Noah Eli Gordon's Braincase Press. The physicality of this limited edition chap lends to the intimacy of the project. The cover, for one is yellow-beige painted (painted?) by blue paint with gestural abstract lines that nonetheless evoke a flower on the back cover. With the author's name and title seemingly *stamped* in red ink, the visual sensibility is very inviting. Cover design is attributed to Michael Labenz.

Then, the poems! It's an intriguing and (I feel lame saying this but it's true) cinematic organization reflecting the titular references to poem, movie, poem. The first poem says "To be inside is not to be sad" and the last poem says, "It is raining. You are not wet/ because you are inside."

Of course, so many things unfold in between. But I actually don't wish to say much about them except to let this excerpt speak for the pleasure of the whole project -- and it is a distinct pleasure, thank you gentlemen!:

Everything I look at is through windows or thick
rain. This morning I woke up in a dream.

That you can make poems out of something
more than paper although I don't know
what. In this field I can almost taste

the salt in your hair. This has been
the longest few days. I feel vast,
the way one always does after collapsing.



the polar bear family reminded me
if you drive an SUV get the motherfucking flag
off your goddamn bumper
welcome to the official definition of motherfucking crazy
--from "Stupidity Owns Me" by K. Silem Mohammad

Thanks Michael Magee for sending me COMBO 12. It's a gift -- really! Stephanie previously lauded (and deservedly so) the cover design, the deer outlined in pinkish-red against a silvery backdrop. There's no need for me to repeat what other bloggers have said. But one of my favorites, by the way, was from David Larsen (which I highlight here as I'm really into what the title references):


You might recall a painting
of a hunting scene, in winter.
The boar contends with several hounds.
Another hound is stricken in the flank
with an arrow form his master's bow,
and struggles to remove it.
The barb has penetrated deeply.
The dog can almost reach the arrow's shaft
with its teeth, which are bared up to the gums,
and snaps at it in frenzy.
The desperation in its rolling eyes is
palpable to the viewer.
Its blood has just begun to stain the snow.

I bring this painting up in order to
give you three guesses as to what it would
make him think of iif he cam across it:

Last but not least on COMBO 12, the back cover says -- and trumps anything else I may say further about this project (the genius of this statement relying on "...even when...")--

....randomness never fails, even when coincidence succeeds.

posted by EILEEN | 12:11 AM