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Book Review :: Because I love you, I became war by Eileen R. Tabios

Because I love you, I become war Poems & Uncollected Poetics Prose by Eileen R. Tabios book cover image

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

The Glass Fire in Napa Valley, 2020 seems to have been a turning point for the extremely prolific poet, editor, novelist, and activist writer Eileen R. Tabios. She and her husband experienced the fire and subsequent evacuation, which was successful, except that part of her life’s work was lost. She lost whole archive entries; material that belonged inside protected library buildings in official archives and not in an outbuilding that burned. This book makes real the fact that Tabios felt strongly compelled, passionate, and driven to collect some of her rescued writings and preserve them in book form. She tackles this project with love of what she finds among the remains of her work and is saying that love is the war she is raging against loss. While published archives can be boring to read because we don’t have the original pamphlet, magazine, or lecture to enjoy, Tabios’ inventive poems are delightful. More than half of the book is a compilation of “Uncollected Poetics Prose” that expand the meaning of archive, leading readers to dream along within them. What is so magical about this collection is that we are not left hanging and lost in the dense material of this ambitious project; we are shown abundance and astounding imagination in what remains. This project is love.

Because I love you, I become war: Poems & Uncollected Poetics Prose by Eileen R. Tabios. Marsh Hawk Press, May 2023.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson is a National Poetry Series finalist, Jovanovich Prize winner, and former Ragdale resident who lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in her book of poems, Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021). https://www.pw.org/directory/writers/susan_kay_anderson

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