Saturday, October 08, 2011


Drew Butler reports on Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) for one of his classes classes at the University of Colorado. Here's an excerpt:

The Journal: Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement)
Founded in 2006
Editor and Founder: Eileen Tabios

Her visions for the journal: “GALATEA RESURRECTS (GR) synthesizes some thoughts as regards poetry, the internet, poetry publishing, and cultural activism. I was interested in GR being specifically an online publication because online readership is often higher than for many poetry print publications. Relatedly, I wanted to add to the internet data base as regards poetry, given the widespread use of the internet for researching a variety of topics. Moreover, GR's addition to e-data would be accessible long after each issue's release date (I still get queries involving articles that were published in the internet many years ago). Thus, in addition to new reviews, GR is open to publishing commentary previously published in a print publication but unavailable within the internet.

“As regards cultural activism, I go back to the nature of the internet. My intent with GR is partly inspired by the existence of founded by Perla Daly and others. These Filipinas founded the site to offset how internet searches for "Filipina" usually comes up with negative myths, mail order bride sites which may be unsafe, porn sites, among other things. Similarly, I and other Filipina poets and scholars recently set up -- via Blogger -- Your Filipina Pen Pal to disrupt internet search results for various phrases related to Filipinas and/or pen pals. In this sense, I consider that boosting data content gratis for profit-making corporations is an acceptable price for longer-term benefits: in GR's case, more attention to poetry in all its forms, schools, approaches and other variety.”

Editing is open to anyone. Works are listed and there is an open call for submissions.

Total of 16 issues ever. Between 2 and 4 come out each year.

The Editor:
Writing for 16 years, in which she has created 18 print poetry collections, four online collections, one CD poetry collection, a book of short stories, a novel, a collection of essays on art, and a collection of essays on poetry. Before her writing career, she worked in International finance using her MBA in economics.

Invented the poetic form of hay(na)ku [1 word, 2 words, 3 words]

Born in Philippines, moved to America at age ten. Filipina heritage is still very important to her work in the Journal.

An Interview with Eileen Tabios:

How do you choose which books of poetry to put up on GR for review? Is there a particular style you look for? Do you feel these pieces reflect your initial goal of cultural activism?

My cultural activism is for Poetry -- not a particular style of poetry. Therefore, all types of poetry are welcomed to be reviewed on GR. Although I have a list of available review copies (at ), I tell folks out there that they can review any poetry project including books on their personal bookshelves. Each Editor's Intro provides a breakdown of the number of books reviewed from review copies sent to me, versus those chosen elsewhere by the reviewer (e.g., But GR doesn't just review books (though, most reviews are of books) -- they can be reviews of poetry readings, poetry performances, etc. I even allow the review of books in other genre (e.g. fiction) if the author is a poet. The latter reflects my belief that everything inevitably affects one's poetry; for example, if a person writes in more than one genre, that could affect that person's use of poetic form.

Having said that, while I publish reviews of all sorts of poetry styles, it is true that GR has come to be known in some circles are being empathetic towards the "innovative" strain in poetry. That has arisen organically, though, as people who write for GR as often also poets. In most cases, I do not assign poetry reviews but let the reviewers choose which publications they wish to review. If poets tend to review those works with which they themselves empathize as practitioners of the art, then I suppose a lot of poet-reviewers who write for GR may come from a camp described as innovative or experimental poets.

Publishers of many styles of poetry do send review copies. I personally have reviewed many different styles of poetry. So I lean towards poetry being a huge tent but if the actual issue or issues reflect an emphasis on a particular style, that is caused as much by those who volunteer to write for GR and not because of any intent on my part.

What editorial process do the reviews go through before publication? Are the guidelines relatively lenient or do you receive quite a few more submissions than get put up on the blog?

Any poetry project, or any project by a poet, is eligible for review in GR. I don't publish all reviews that are sent for my consideration. But I do publish the majority of submissions for at least a couple of reasons:

1) reflecting my initial editorial introduction to the GR project, I was invested in just generating volumes of poetry-related information in the BIG net of the internet; and

2) as part of my cultural activism on behalf of poetry, I wanted to encourage others to start writing critically about poetry as I believe the art could stand more critics. As with anything else, we all improve with practice but I was willing for GR to be the host of many newbie critics' efforts. It has turned out over time, as I had hoped, that some critics have persevered as a result of GR's encouragement and gotten better. GR has enough professional, brilliant critics lending their names to the effort that I'm not at all worried that the occasional less-than-brilliant review would dilute GR's reputation.

Having said the above, if there is one editorial standard that I try to make sure exists in all reviews (and I'm not sure I succeed all the time, but I try), it's that the reviewer always includes an excerpt from the reviewed work to exemplify whatever opinion that reviewer is offering.

I noticed that sections of the blog have a lot of references to your children and your personal life. Do you view GR as a primarily personal blog with some poetry reviewing aspects or a more professional review journal with personal sections?

My poetics reflect that I don't believe in the separation of "life" from "poetry-writing", and so I reference my personal life. This approach should be contextualized, though, in that it reflects generally my approach to blogs. I was, I believe, among the initial group of poet-bloggers who began blogging before it really took off. I appreciate the blog for its informality due in part to how its (internet) medium allows for almost-immediate publication of something one has written. That informality, of course, does not necessarily mean lack of rigor...but I think the blog-space is obviously very different from other contexts, for example, a peer-reviewed journal. Anyway, I do view GR as primarily what I reference it in its subtitle: An Engagement with Poetry (with such "engagements" often manifesting themselves as reviews).

My views on the form of the poetry review probably has bearing on this question. You may notice that when I write "reviews" for GR, I don't say I "review" but say I "engage." That's because I think there's value to the non-traditional way of reviewing poetry, including the very emotional, the very personal, the fragmented outlooks which may not be the norm in more traditional criticism. I mean, as a poet, when I receive a fumbling, at times inarticulate response to some of my own poems, I often glean some value to that type of response -- as much as the more well-written, well-wrought critical review. So I allow a space for all styles of poetry reviewing.

You mentioned on the blog that you chose the medium of the Internet in order to increase readership and because of its low cost. How do you feel about the fears some have voiced concerning the Internet weakening the strength of writing in poetry reviews?

That has always been an artificial debate to me. First, take a look at who's providing such criticism. Does that person, for example, have a vested interest in narrowing the gate through which others learn about a multitude of poetry publications or projects? Secondly, it always amazes me when those interested in poetry, be they poets or not but surely people of some intelligence (?), fail to scratch deeper into their questions -- doesn't their complaint reflect an undeserved reliance on wealth as a controlling factor on what will create cultural capital and isn't it true that efforts that push the edges of the art form of poetry often start out on low-cost bases because of the general lack of support of poetry and specifically even more constrained support for innovative poetry? Thirdly, the question assumes that a way to assess poetry reviews is to assess them as a group (e.g., it's from the group of "online" reviews versus "printed" reviews). That doesn't make sense. Read a poetry review, and assess that individual poetry review. You don't assess the merits of a single poetry review based on the overall outlook of whether poetry reviews have increased in number and venues. (This ridiculous conflation of the macro with the micro is a point that's both irritating and amusing to me, btw, who's been trained as an economist,...) I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at this type of group-think, though. If you take a look at various discussions about poems, you can tell that poems are often read based on what category folks fit them into, versus based on the individual poems' merits....(which is not to say a poem's generative source, including its context, may not be relevant...)

Last but not least, the beauty of the internet and, specifically the blog, is that if there's nothing worth reading in your project, people will not read it. It seems to me that a blog's success -- or even redeeming value -- can be judged in a very bottom-line way for a blog like GR. Are people reading it? The answer is YES. Are publishers sending review copies? The answer is not just YES but even long-standing publishers (vs. indie publishers looking for rare marketing venues) are sending books. Are people continuing to volunteer to write for it for almost zero compensation? Absolutely and I am so grateful to answer this question, too, as YES (I offer books as compensation and while some reviewers pass on those offers as what I have may not be of interest to them as readers, they nonetheless continue to write for GR...). Believe me--if and when GR ceases to be of interest, I will be the first to pull the plug on it. I'm not looking to spend a lot of effort on something that is of zero interest to internet readers out there... in fact, GR takes up so much effort that I've thought a lot about ending it but haven't done so yet specifically because there is such interest in it as a project....

A significant portion of your original intention statment concerns cultural activism in relation to Filipinas and in particular the website Do you feel GR has continued to reflect this goal through its work? How so?

Really? Because I went back to re-read the Introduction to Issue NO. 1 where I inaugurated GR and this factor was just one of four factors cited, isn't it? I wouldn't say it's more significant than the other three factors. But it is a factor, and I would say about this that GR has probably achieved just 60% of the goals related to this factor. That is, the two goals related to BagongPinay would be (1) just increasing poetry content on the internet, and (2) increasing the content of reviews of Filipino poetry (and because I happen to be Filipino with contacts in the Filipino literary community I was hopeful of GR being used to promote Filipino English-language poetry which, in my opinion, doesn't get as much attention as it deserves). Anyway, I would say that we've achieved No. 1. But in terms of No. 2, the distinct majority of poetry reviews have to do with non-Filipino poetry so I would say that GR has helped draw attention to Filipino poetry but not as much as I hoped it would do.

List of Available Works for Review:

Blog Main Page: