Tuesday, December 26, 2017



Book of Cord by Leona Chen
(Tinfish Press, Hawai’I, 2017)

Closing the book after my first read of Leona Chen’s Book of Cord, I was stunned. I thought, Wow—that’s one of the most powerful poetry reads this year. I wasn’t expecting the, its, power.  As a physical object, it’s slim, it’s paperback, … not sure why I’m focused on the physicality though perhaps it's because it landed a blow as would an 900-page hardback. Yet its power makes sense. The Book of Cord is birthed from an old wound, a polarizing anguish. Chen says in an Afterword

And as Shawna Yang Ryan says in her useful Introduction (also reprinted elsewhere in this issue HERE):

What kind of poems can stand up to this history, to this wound? Because that’s the question, right? Because, if the poems faltered, the book then might as well be a political science paper.

Reader, the poems are profound, are anguished, are insistent, are in your face and more … and yet in the most lyrical way so that the poems long resonate and make the reader inhabit them. And in that habitation, empathy surfaces and a wish that history did not does not unfold so brutally. Here are two poems chosen by opening the book at random:

I recommend you read all the poems in this book. You will learn. You will be moved. You will be grateful for these poems though they (can) make you grieve.


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea ResurrectsHer 2017 poetry releases include five books, two booklets and eight poetry chaps. Most recently, she released MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (Paloma Press, U.S.A.), Love in a Time of Belligerence (Editions du Cygne/SWAN World, France), and THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA: Prime's Anti-Autobiography (The Knives Forks Spoons Press, U.K.). Her books have been released in nine countries and cyberspace. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. Her first 2018 book will be an edited anthology about the CDC Word "Ban" entitled EVIDENCE OF FETUS DIVERSITY (Moria Books/Locofo Chaps). More info about her work at http://eileenrtabios.com

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