Saturday, July 30, 2016


Eileen R. Tabios presents an Afterword to her I FORGOT LIGHT BURNS
(Moria Poetry, Chicago, 2015)



My recent work, "Murder, Death and Resurrection" (MDR), includes an MDR Poetry Generator that brings together much of my poetics and poet tics. The MDR Poetry Generator contains a data base of 1,146 lines which can be combined randomly to make a large number of poems; the shortest would be a couplet and the longest would be a poem of 1,146 lines. I FORGOT LIGHT BURNS is the second poetry collection to emanate from the MDR Poetry Generator; the first, 44 RESURRECTIONS, was e-published in 2014 by PostModernPoetry E- Ratio Editions and is available at

The MDR Poetry Generator's conceit is that any combination of its 1,146 lines succeed in creating a poem. Thus, I can creategeneratenew poems unthinkingly from its database. For example, I created several of the poems in 44 RESURRECTIONS by blindly pointing at lines on a print-out to combine. While the poems cohere partly by the scaffolding of beginning each line with the phrase "I forgot..." (a tactic inspired by reading Tom Beckett's fabulous poem "I Forgot" in his book DIPSTICK (DIPTYCH)), these poems reflect long- held interests in abstract and cubist language. Through my perceptions of abstraction and cubism, I've written poems whose lines are not fixed in order and, indeed, can be reordered (as a newbie poet, I was very interested in the prose poem form and in writing paragraphs that can be reordered within the poem).

Yet while the MDR Poetry Generator presents poems not generated through conscious personal preferences, the results are not distanced from the author: I created the 1,146 lines from reading through 27 previously-published poetry collections—the title’s references to murder, death and resurrection reflect the idea of putting to death the prior work, only to resurrect them into something new: sometimes, creation first requires destruction. But if randomness is the operating system for new poems (i.e. the lines can be combined at random to make new poems), these new poems nonetheless contain all the personal involvementand love!that went into the writing of its lines. The results dislocate without eliminating authorship.

The math is over my head for calculating the number of poems (in math, permutations) possible from these 1,146 lines. I asked my son's high school math tutor, Carl Ericson, to calculate it for me. Carl used an approximation formula to answer my question and approximated that the total poems possible to be generated by the MDR Poetry Generator is a number that has 3,011 digits. To date, with the two poems in I FORGOT LIGHT BURNS, I’ve written—rather, the MDR Poetry Generator has generated130 poems. We’re just beginning: may they provide enjoyable reading.

January 26, 2015 


Eileen Tabios is editor of The Halo-Halo Review. More information about her is available at 

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