INVENT[ST]ORY by Eileen R. Tabios


There are so many paths thru the enchanted forest that is Eileen Tabios’ oeuvre that no one can possibly take them all in one lifetime. —John Bloomberg-Rissman


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 242
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2015
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-36-5


In the United States, the catalog or list poem first made its appearance in the work of Walt Whitman, who himself was evidently influenced by Old Testament verse-lists. Formally and thematically, Whitman was a democratizing force….Like Whitman, [Eileen] Tabios has prioritized democratic impulses in the conscious shaping and articulation of her poetics. However, while Whitman stands as a figure claiming centrality for his American-ness and for an idea of “America,” Tabios’ postcolonial—or … “transcolonial”—subjectivity has done much to shape her poetics. —THOMAS FINK

Invent[st]ory is evidence of the magnetic prowess of Eileen R. Tabios. Her fluency in the catalogue poem transforms the generative function often associated with this mode into profound poetic resonance:
“I forgot belting my jeans with a used halo.
I forgot my feet mischievously walking two inches above ground.
I forgot a girl shrieking as her swing soared towards a boiling sky.”
The sense of plenitude in this work reveals a lifescape replete with variations on the infinite themes we learn anew. There are no boundaries beyond the chant-like intonation that engenders spiritual potency. Eileen Tabios transforms raw material by way of an innately glowing sense of wonder at the richness of this universe. —Sheila E. Murphy

There are so many paths thru the enchanted forest that is Eileen Tabios’ oeuvre that no one can possibly take them all in one lifetime. So it is with something approaching glee that I find here a completely unexpected one: a mid-career “selected” constructed around her recurring use of the list / catalogue-form. Did I say the list-form? No, pluralize that, and prepare to encounter an entire ecosystem of catalogues and lists. And don’t for a minute let this lead you to think that this is a book of “weak conceptualism”, not that there’s anything wrong with weakness (in the sense of an antifoundationalism), nor with conceptualism, because there’s not. Think rather that you are encountering poetry, sans qualifiers; prepare to read; and (quoting Perec quoting Verne) “Look with all your eyes, look”. This is the real stuff. —John Bloomberg-Rissman




I forgot you were the altar that made me stay…. I forgot the spine bent willingly for a stranger’s whip…. I forgot how an erasure captures the threshold of consciousness…. I forgot even a boor can pause before a Rembrandt portrait…. I forgot one can use color to prevent encounters from degenerating into lies…. I forgot learning to appreciate rust, and how it taught me bats operate through radar…. I forgot the bald girl whose neck increasingly thinned until I could count the ropes stretched along her throat…. I forgot the bliss deep within an ascetic’s eyes as he wandered with a beggar’s bowl…. I forgot your betrayal that forever marks me like a heart’s tattoo blossoming painfully against an inner thigh…. I forgot how detachment includes. I forgot how detachment enabled a white rattlesnake to penetrate my dreams…. I forgot the protection of his diamonds.


Eileen TabiosEileen R. Tabios loves books, and has released more than 20 print, five electronic and one CD poetry collections; an art essay collection; a “collected novels” book; a poetry essay/interview anthology; a short story collection; and two experimental biographies. INVENT(ST)ORY is her second of a series of Selected/Collected Poems focused on poetic form; her first Selected, THE THORN ROSARY, focused on a 12-year exploration of the prose poem form. She has also exhibited visual art and visual poetry in the United States and Asia. Recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry for her first poetry collection, she has crafted an award-winning body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Her poems have been translated into seven languages as well as computer-generated hybrid languages, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Music, Modern Dance and Sculpture.  She also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized ten anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays in addition to serving as editor or guest editor for various literary journals.  She maintains a biblioliphic blog, “Eileen Verbs Books“; edits Galatea Resurrects, a popular poetry review; steers the literary and arts publisher Meritage Press; and frequently curates thematic online poetry projects including LinkedIn Poetry Recommendations (a recommended list of contemporary poetry books).  More information is available at

Additional information

Weight 25 oz
Dimensions 10 × 8 × .5 in