Thursday, February 26, 2015


Eileen Tabios has released an experimental auto-biography that covers her life in poetry, including her Marsh Hawk Press books: AGAINST MISANTHROPY: A Life in Poetry (2015-1995) (BlazeVOX [books], 2015).  

The Publisher book page with relevant info is HERE, and this is from the press release:

2015 marks the 20th year anniversary of Eileen R. Tabios’ “career switch” from banking to poetry. AGAINST MISANTHROPY presents her life as a self-educated poet—from, as a newbie poet, reading through all of the poetry books of her local Barnes and Noble as she scratched her head over what poetry is supposed to be … to more recently creating a poetry generator capable of making poems without additional authorial intervention. Along her journey, she also released about 30 poetry collections, two fiction books and four prose collections with the help of publishers in eight countries. Ultimately, however, her so far 20-year poetry journey has taught her that poetry’s greatest gift is the means by which to forge a new life as a better person. As one of her Facebook friends Maxwell Clark told her, and she agrees, “The best person is the best poet.” 
I think the human race is on a suicide path.…where are the moments of joy, of beauty, of grace within this doomsday path humans are on? From where or how do we come up with reasons that make it worthwhile to continue living? To rush out of our beds to greet the day? To smile? To laugh? Well, for me, these moments would occur through the positive interactions made possible by love and respect for other people, creatures and the environment….I look at these moments, and if I bear in mind my own apocalyptic forecast for the human race, I view these moments—the stubbornness of their continued existence against all odds—as poetry in the sense that poetry's task is not to affirm the (unjust) status quo but to disrupt it.
—from ARDUITY’s Interview of Eileen R. Tabios 
...the moment, the space, from which I attempt to create poems. In the indigenous myth, the human, by being rooted onto the planet but also touching the sky, is connected to everything in the universe and across all time, including that the human is rooted to the past and future—indeed, there is no unfolding of time. In that moment, all of existence—past, present and future—has coalesced into a singular moment, a single gem with an infinite expanse. In that moment, were I that human, I am connected to everything so that there is nothing or no one I do not know. I am everyone and everything, and everything and everyone is me. In that moment, to paraphrase something I once I heard from some Buddhist, German or French philosopher, or Star Trek character, “No one or nothing is alien to me."
—from Eileen R. Tabios’ “Babaylan Poetics”
Eileen also briefly discusses her interest in disrupting the forms of biography and autobiography over HERE.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Marsh Hawk Press is pleased to inaugurate a "Three Questions" Series for its authors, discussing individual titles.  Our next Q&A is with Basil King and his newest book with Marsh Hawk Press:

1) What is something not known or obvious about your book The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand from Learning to Draw/A History.    

As usual I've combined a lot of historical information with personal history and experience...this time I'm covering things ranging from the origin of the tablecloth and blunted knife for dining to Ice Age Venus and what she means to us now. 

2)  Please share some responses to your book that’s surprised you, or made you happy or disappointed.  If your book is relatively new, share some of your hopes for how readers might respond or how the book finds its way in the world.

Gee,  George Quasha sent this about my work and you can use it any way you want:
I think his writing is wonderful – and it’s one of those rare cases were the two arts [writing and visual art] illuminate each other.  He’s the most genuine, and  therefore ultimately important, kind of artist/poet, whose work over many decades i driven by an unquenched actual passion and inner principle we rightly call vision – and not on outer success.  He’s hardly indifferent to recognition and acknowledgment (who is? It would be unhealthy) but his work – his prolific and life-embodying work – is in no way dependent on the judgment or acceptance or purchase–power of others.  It simply has to be, it just goes on, and you can feel that necessity throughout. His thousands of unexhibited works are like a self-contained civilization waiting for visitors.

3)  If you had to choose a favorite poem or a poem to highlight from the book, which one would you choose and why?  

I don't have a favorite...but I think this section is enticing.  Might induce a reader to want to read on?

In the 1970s our old friend Tony Landreau was for a few years the director of the National Textile Museum in Washington D.C. Tony became a friend of the Vice President’s wife, Joan Mondale. Tony convinced her that she and Mary Ann Tighe the then Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts should visit my studio.  

The first to arrive was the FBI. They cased our building and the neighborhood. Then they took positions on several rooftops. They were very impressed that when my studio had been a bar it had been used in the movie The Valachi Papers, a movie that starred Charles Bronson. And then the entourage arrived a limo in back and a limo in front of Mrs. Mondale’s car. 

Martha set it up so that she could serve either tea or coffee and there was a plate of store-bought cookies. I showed the ladies my work and they were very gracious. Months later we got an invitation to a party for poets at the White House. When we left the White House I tried to dance down the stairs as James Cagney had done in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy. It didn’t really work for me.   
It was snowing lightly as Martha and I walked towards the National Gallery. Mrs. Mondale had asked me if I would tour this museum with her and Mary Ann Tighe and talk about the paintings. A large black limousine pulled up next to us and Mrs. Mondale said Martha you get in with us and Basil you get into the other limo. Mrs. Mondale told Martha that when it snows in D.C. it is impossible to get out and we should leave immediately. I got into the back seat of the limo and there was a towel covering a submachine gun. 

One of the FBI agents said to me, “I don’t know what you’ve done but you must be somebody very important, Mrs. Mondale wants to get you out of town as fast as possible.” We checked out of the hotel said goodbye to Mary Ann and Mrs. Mondale and then two limos turned on their sirens and with our Datsun between them drove hell for leather through Washington and out to the highway leading north. I had wanted to impress the ladies and show off my knowledge and perhaps cement some interest in my work. All it took was slight snow and the opportunity was gone.  

Basil King

Monday, February 16, 2015


Reminder: Deadline for the 12th Annual Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize is April 30, 2015.  Judged by Stephanie Strickland.  More information HERE!

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Marsh Hawk Press is delighted to announce that it is a recipient of a regrant from The New York State Council on the Arts through the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines & Presses.  The regnant allows Marsh Hawk Press to be one of the few publishers of poetry and literature to pay advances on royalties.  We thank both organizations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Marsh Hawk Press offers a “Three Questions” Series for its authors to discuss individual titles—an index to the Series is available HERE.  We are pleased to present this Q&A with Sharon Dolin whose book will go into second printing on May 1, 2015:

1. What is something not known or obvious about your book SeriousPink

In the final section, Section IV: “Serious Pink,” the poems responding to Howard Hodgkin’s paintings, I wanted to think about frames much as Hodgkin draws attention to their boundaries by painting on the frames themselves. Though I wrote them in free verse (except for the ghazal), I used the loose constraint of 15 lines in various configurations of stanzas, though several do lap over into 16-18 lines.

2. Please share some responses to your book that’s surprised you, or made you happy or disappointed. 

The fact that Serious Pink has gone into a second printing pleases me immensely. A writer loves all her books, but Serious Pink holds a special place for me in my poetic development. I challenged myself to write differently than I did in my first book, Heart Work, and in my third book, Realm of the Possible, which was actually written concurrently with Serious Pink. Moving away from the confessional lyric, I played with language more than I had before, inspired by the way abstract painters play with color and line. While Serious Pink is still a personal book, I felt freer to write about my feelings and concerns much more obliquely. It was a liberating experience for me.

3) If you had to choose a favorite poem or a poem to highlight from the book, which one would you choose and why? 

My favorite poem is not about a particular painting, as all the other poems in the three sequences (aside from “Ode to Color”) are. It is about the revelation I had concerning Richard Diebenkorn’s process: how to write about/enact his process of painting, painting over, keeping his mistakes visible. Nearly impossible to do with language, unless I want to have a poem with words struck out, which struck me as too facile, too mimetic. So my eureka moment came when I wrote the poem “Mistakes.” And it remains the only automatic poem I have ever written and published, almost the reverse of the vexed process that Diebenkorn underwent in his work and that I endured as well in all the other poems in that first section, which I actually wrote last.


Mistakes are what you leave out
for other people to put away.

They are the picture painted out of
the picture which is nonsense
because already I can picture them.

Mistakes are the only thing you can trust
to go wrong and that’s how
they right themselves no matter how
much you knock them over.

From the outside it might be a blemish
or stumble; inside it’s the scar
of who you are.

The point of interest in any story
is where it goes off the tracks.

That’s how we keep track of time
or time keeps track of us.

If it all came out right the first time
I’d be an automatic writer
and I’m not.

But this is coming out all right, isn’t it?

My other favorite poem is “Day Dreams,” the first poem from the Hodgkin series. I think it succeeds in capturing the playful eroticism and peek-a-boo quality of abstraction, out of which we are always finding images to hang on to. The poem carefully rides the edge between sense and no sense.


Let spectacled be speckled
and strips become tipples of stripes.

A wavery view loves a vapory hue,
an undulant curve, a redolent verve.

A donging clock polkadots time,
does a stippled back chime?

At center is an ocean obscured by raging light

Serious pink seems to lean on everything
in spite of trivial blue candy canes—
curtain folds on a proscenium stage.

It all comes down to land scaping a backdrop
for other protagonal forms
(and the surround not always round)

And what you think they’re doing, anyway,
humping or huddled there together on that beach
of light and black almost never out of reach.


We thank Sharon Dolin for participating in this Q&A.  You can also visit her at her website

Sunday, February 1, 2015


You are invited to click on the links below to see information about our newest titles:

No Map of the Earth Includes Stars by Christina Olivares (recipient of the Marsh Hawk Press Annual Prize)

Hybrid Moments by Jon Curley

KRAZY: Visual Poems and Performance Scripts by Jane Augustine

Congratulations to the authors!