Eileen Tabios (with Rebeka Lembo)


Eileen: I wrote these poems in the hay(na)ku form because I was interested in compression. For instance, the "first drafts" of the poems "Untitled" and "Rebirth" are actually diary entries, each of which run about 500 words.  I wanted to write compressed poems that I thought might retain the diary entries' emotional weight, while also transcending -- as many poems do -- their biographical sources. I chose the hay(na)ku because its constraint facilitates minimalism: the basic hay(na)ku is a tercet where one line is one word, the second line is two words, and the third line is three words.  I created the hay(na)ku as a diasporic poetic form; more information about it may be found here, here and here.  

Rebeka: Translating hay(na)kus from English into Spanish poses an authentic and extraordinary challenge. It is, without a doubt, an exercise of wit. While in English one is blessed with a myriad of possibilities, the rigid grammatical requirements inherent to Spanish—such as the unavoidable and mandatory use of articles before nouns—become an obstacle. This is not, however, a negative feature. It is, in fact, the contrary. It is an enticing opportunity to glue what will always be broken. In the case of Eileen Tabios’ hay(na)kus, I was surprised and delighted when I noticed the different and colorful compositions that were possible through my gluing of the pieces. On a different note, musicality in "Rebirth" and "Untitled" opened up a world of timbres. I imagined these poems as those crucial, still, and unforgettable moments in an opera. So I had to ask them to sing for me in Spanish, in Italian.





How To Write A Poem



are real.

I start there.



How To Read A Poem



Is false.

You start there.



¿Cómo escribir un  poema?


eres real.

Yo empiezo ahí.


es real.

Yo, empieza ahí.


es real.

Yo empiezo ahí.



¿Cómo leer un poema?

no existo.
Tú empiezas ahí.

no existe.
Tú, empieza ahí.


no existo.
Usted empieza ahí.





forget your
name leaves me

to defend
against love's death




Sin titulo



tu nombre

me da entereza



defenderme así

del amor muerto.



Senza titolo


Dimenticare Il tuo

nome, mi




per difendermi

dell’amore morto.





to unlock
the steel handcuffs

of an aftermath?
How to






soltarnos del

frío metal? Nos


encadena tras la

desgracia. ¿Cómo







lasciarci del

freddo metallo? Ci


incatena dopo la

disgrazia. Come








eileentabios.jpgEileen R. Tabios has released 14 print, four electronic and 1 CD poetry collections, an art essay collection, a poetry essay/interview anthology, and a short story book. Her most recent books are The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007) and SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss (Blue Lion, 2007). In her poetry, she has crafted a body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Tagalog, Japanese, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Modern Dance and Sculpture. She blogs at The Blind Chatelaine's Poker Poetics. 

Rebeka Lembo was born in 1978, has completed a degree in Dramatic Arts, and is now pursuing a degree in Letters & Literature at UNAM in Mexico City.