the relational elations of ORPHANED ALGEBRA is a ground-breaking collaboration of poems and poetics essays. "Began" by Eileen R. Tabios who crafted poems melding algebra and orphans, this unique project was "finished" by j/j hastain who echoed the poems first musically and then by way of meditations on Trans identity(ies). The collaboration presents several text approaches including essays addressing Tabios' international adoption experience and hastain's suggestion for more natural and less violent pronouns that transcend gender binaries.
Advance words include:
Eileen Tabios’ ORPHANED ALGEBRA performs numerations of loss, want, abandonment, the conditions of the invisible. Riffing on middle school math story problems, Tabios works a mathematics of disorder, the unordering of poverty, these ‘stories’ a corrective to the “ascetic’s illusion of ecstasy, a measurement made possible by its condition precedent: a suffering so unmitigated it hollows the non-survivors from children to earthworms.” j/j hastain’s “visceral echoes” of Tabios, “gestures” both textual and visual, sound “an activism of hollowing out,” whose hollows form a new space of assiduity. In “stance”—instance—hastain “grapple[s] with ethics of place and space. Was a country the host body of a child found homeless in it?” Who and where are we, and what role has language in any of this? Against abuse, against hunger, against erasure, Tabios and hastain challenge silence’s dissonant ignorance. The poets sharpen language and intention, “Creating a permanent, rather than temporary implantable. An anti-obviate hutch or hearth.” A challenge, a new “home,” a pleasure, this collection puts us in the midst.
— Marthe Reed
Categories are not abstractions, they are bodies. Family is one such embodied category, gender another. What happens to bodies when they don't fit the categories assigned them, when they lack families, when they criss-cross gender or genre lines? How can one calculate such change, compose equations to explain these trans-categorical shifts? Our very pronouns are at stake, as are nations, blood-ties, definitions to words like “dad” and “belonging.” As J/J Hastain writes, “There is a new lineage that we are trying to make more apparent.” Tabios and Hastain are trans-parents to a fresh embodiment of words and bodies, and to what they mean when they come together as books and persons. Their writing counts the change(s) in unexpected vocabularies.
— Susan M. Schultz
Tabios and hastain are most engaged in what happens when relation between persons occurs, or between genders within persons, namely in the TRANS of their "relational elations." They are fascinated by displacements, yes, but also in "active placements," whether those are adoptive relationships within families or within individuals whose gender-identities are not normative. These placements require new words, new pronouns, new definitions of family. They require new stories. // ... It's that "listening differently" that is the real TRANS in Tabios's and hastain's book; it's a trans that risks appropriation. hastain is not, nor ever has been a "real" orphan, although xe has experienced gender (and generic) displacements. When a body rises into metaphor, it can easily be "assumed" to be something it is not. But better to take that risk than to leave these trans-travelers solely to their solitudes. It is the place "of someone finally watching" (66). This watching is not espionage but witness, not "at" but "with," insofar as "withness" is possible.
— Jacket2 https://jacket2.org/commentary/new-thresholds-new-anatomies
The gift, we recall, of feminist theoreticism is the paradigm shift. Tabios and hastain place this at the eros of collaboration, and that’s its success: that the recognition of difference might make unlike circumstances empathetic frameworks. Begun through appropriated “word problems” from grammar school math equations, Tabios is able to ask, “What algebraic relationship moved you to bestow on mundane pigeons the halos of peace and other faux debris from trawling old memories of desire-ridden imagination that would come to plummet into ruin?” Transcendent then of equation, the series is able to interrogate “remainders” of information fallen outside the easiness of “whole sets,” or any given. In response, hastain posits xir own questions regarding the crepuscular—O favored of poetic words!—and relational identities: “Patina does relate to positing. Scratches secrets into the underside of blocks or blocs. That stone did hold that child’s expression.” The pairing also invites each poet’s critical reception of xir collaborator, as well as a startling sequence of stances through which hastain permutates “different set[s] of lovers” approaching the limit of Tabios’s partial problematic: What is a[p]parent? —YELLOW FIELD 6
very special. I ... urge readers to read and re-read this most fascinating of books I have engaged in a long time. Read and learn so many new ways.
—Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Eileen R. Tabios has released 19 print, 4 electronic and 1 CD poetry collections, an art-essay collection, a poetry essay/interview anthology, a short story book and a collection of novels. Recipient of the Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry for her first poetry book Beyond Life Sentences, she has exhibited visual poetry and visual art throughout the United States and Asia. She has also edited, co-edited or conceptualized nine anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Ms. Tabios has crafted a multi-awarded body of work, much of which is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, Portuguese, Polish, Greek, computer-generated hybrid languages, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Music, Modern Dance and Sculpture. As part of her poetry-as-performance approach, she blogs as the "Chatelaine" at http://angelicpoker.blogspot.com, and edits a popular poetry review journal, Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) at http://galatearesurrects.blogspot.com. As a further extension of her poetics, she also founded Meritage Press (www.meritagepress.com), a multi-disciplinary literary and arts press based in San Francisco & St. Helena.
j/j hastain is the author of numerous full length, cross genre works as well as many chapbooks and artist’s books. j/j is an Elective Affinities participant, a member of Dusie kollektiv and a regular contributor to Sous Les Paves. j/j’s books have been finalists in the Kelsey Street, Grey Book Press, Sawtooth and Ahsahtabook competitions. j/j’s manuscript extant shamanisms won the Pavement Saw poetry award. In 2011 j/j’s book we in my Trans was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award. As a genderqueer writer maker of things, j/j’s books deal directly with the transgressive body, deviant gender, eros and identity construction as necessary compositional methods to living with empowerment in what can be a diminutive and polarizing world. j/j is interested in expanding traditional notions of what activism is/ has been/ can be, and doing so via the reimagining of spaces. j/j believes in creating texts/ spaces that are inherently non-linear and a historical. Texts as spaces that have never been patriarchally controlled and cannot be patriarchally controlled. It is j/j’s hope that in these spaces there will be room to experience contemporary moments of truth, eros, convergence, conjunction and profoundly new types and sensations of equity.
ISBN: 978-0-9846353-2-0 $15.00