Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Tabios's Black Lightning Revisited

In 1999, I discovered Eileen Tabios's wonderful, generous, insightful book, Black Lightning: Poetry In Progress. If you are a poet, a teacher of poetry, or you enjoy books about the creative writing process, I would recommend this book in the same breath as Hugo's The Triggering Town, Paz's The Other Voice, and Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet as books that have influenced me and my writing.

APA poets must have this book, though a non-Asian poet would love this book just like I would love a book of poems and insights by Neruda, Paz, Alegria, and Cardenal (yes, I love the Latin American poets). But the reader or writer of Asian Pacific American poetry will find this book to be a prize. Aside from its VIP table of contents (Meena Alexander, Indran Amirthanayagam, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Luis Cabalquinto, Marilyn Chin, Sesshu Foster, Jessica Hagedorn, Kimiko Hahn, Garrett Hongo, Li-Young Lee, Timothy Liu, David Mura, Arthur Sze, and John Yau), "Black Lightning is the first ever publication of poetry-in-progress articles showcasing Asian-American poets. Though the focus of the book is on Asian-American poets, Black Lightning is also believed to be the first collection ever of poetry-in-progress articles that actually feature the drafting stages of the subject poems. Thus, is an invaluable addition to creative writing and poetry literature in general" (from the Temple website).

The book itself is a work of art, not your normal 6 x 9 volume. It is large, attractive, and memorable. The fun of being able to see how a poem progessed and why is a rare treat...particularly for a poet who did not attend an MFA program (like me). Even if you did, you will love it. Get this book in the hands of poets and teachers, librarians and all writers. It will find a valuable place on your bookshelf. At $24, the cost of six fancy coffees, this book may be the very best purchase you make all year.

Go here to check it out.


Patty said...

Thank you for recommending this. I hadn't heard of it, but will surely order it.

Lee Herrick said...

I think you'll like the book, Patty. BTW, Doha looks beautiful. Have a great time.

Patty said...

Thank you so much, Lee. I ordered Tabio's book yesterday, it should arrive in time for me to read it on the plane to Qatar.

Pris said...

Hi Lee
This book sounds great, esp the part about poems in progress, something I've never seen in a book. Love the poets featured, too. Being a book maniac, but short on cash, I order books that I want to keep for a while (rather than borrow from the library) from Amazon.com. They sell nearly every book I've wanted used, as well as new. Some cost as little as a penny, with, of course, about three bucks added for shipping and handling. They had this one for around two or three dollars.

I'm excited!

Like your new blog name!

Lee Herrick said...

Wow...two or three dollars. That's awesome. I like Amazon, too...usually their shipping is pretty fast as well. I think you'll enjoy the book!

Pris said...

The book arrived and it's everything you promised. It's both good poetry and a great learning experience seeing these poems in progress! Thanks again.