Thursday, February 5, 2015

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets

Editor: Eileen R. Tabios
Meritage Press (San Francisco & St. Helena, 2014)

Retail Price: $20
Page No.: 220 pages
Publication Date: March 2014
To order directly from publisher, contact

Super Typhoon Haiyan—known as Yolanda in the Philippines—was the largest storm ever recorded on land, affecting over 14 million people who became homeless, widowed, orphaned or saw their beloveds die or themselves died in the onslaught of water and wind. Rebuilding efforts are estimated to require about three years with the Philippine government estimating that such efforts will cost about US$8.59 billion.

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets. Edited by poet and editor Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 133 poems is released by Meritage Press (San Francisco & St. Helena), and can be ordered online through the press’ Lulu account (see above link). All of the book’s profits will be donated to relief organizations and others helping the survivors of Yolanda.

Book sales and, thus, fundraising proceeds, need not occur simply through online purchases. Meritage Press will work with fundraising organizations or individuals wishing to raise funds for Yolanda’s survivors. Specifically, Meritage Press is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each. The fundraisers then are free to donate the profits to organizations of their choice who are involved in aiding Yolanda’s survivors. For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at

While the anthology was created for fundraising, the result also showcases the wealth of talent in Filipino poetry. Although not created for this purpose, this book is a useful showcase of contemporary Filipino poetry. Most poems are written in English, but a few also present examples of some of the Philippines’ languages: Filipino, Cebuano or Bisaya, Waray, and  Hiligaynon (with excerpts from their English translations).

Additionally, while each individual poem may be powerful, the poems together create a sum-effect greater than its parts. What results is both novelistic in scope and urgent in communicating the news. For the news continue beyond the actual incident and aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. The news continue about how our actions degrade the environment and each other, making likely the return of Yolanda’s brethren…unless we amend our actions. The sum of these poem-stories also reflect a different reality from what’s mostly been presented in the media, attesting once again to the importance of Filipinos speaking up on their own behalf.

A Foreword is provided by poet-scholar Leny Mendoza Strobel, whose presence is appropriate due to her ground-breaking studies into the decolonized Filipino self and how pakikipag-kapwa/building-a-beloved-community is an indigenous part of Filipino identity. For the eagerness with which Filipino poets embraced this project manifests the indigenous Filipino trait of Kapwa.

 Here are some “Advance Words” from poet-scholar-critic-editor Susan M. Schultz:

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets:  
This is a book about a destructive typhoon named Yolanda, or Haiyan, which caused massive damage to the Philippines in November, 2013. This is a sprawling book of poems about family, loss, art, economy, greed, love, grief, theft, militarism, colonialism, typhoon tourism, deforestation, stray dogs, survivors, rubble, donations, propaganda, looting, journalists, dead children, helicopters, rain, disembowelment, black bags, conquerors, catastrophe, “the republic of the drowned” (Luisa A. Igloria). This is a book in English, Filipino, Cebuano, Waray, Hiligaynon, Bisaya. This is a book by poets who teach, poets who study, a poet who drives a tricycle for a living, poets who work for NGOs, poets who are school children. This is a book by 133 Filipino poets who live in the Philippines, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, South Africa, elsewhere.  What is diaspora but the aftermath of storm? All profits from this book will be donated to relief organizations. “Aid is art,” writes Simeon Dumdum, Jr. Now art will aid survivors of the storm.                                                
—Susan M. Schultz, poet and editor of Tinfish

Meritage Press and the poets in VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA appreciate your support. 


For more info on Meritage Press books:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


"STORM: A TYPHOON HAIYAN RECOVERY PROJECT" is curated by Johanna F. Almiron and J. Lorenzo Perillo, November 2014 for the Center for Art and Thought.  VTY contributor Janice Sapigao read her poem “An Invocation After Typhoon Haiyan” during their fundraiser event on Nov. 8, 2015.  

Her poem is also posted on the Center for Art and Thought's website HERE.

The Center for Art and Thought is an educational, arts & entertainment, and charity organization.  Their Facebook page is at

Monday, November 10, 2014


We are pleased to share that the latest recipient of funds raised from sales of VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA is the Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS).

CfBS will work with providing relief to Haiyan survivors, specifically working with Panay Bukidnon communities devastated by the typhoon, in conjunction with the relief efforts of Sonoma County, CA.

We thank CfBS for their ongoing outreach to various communities around the world, including those affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was part of the books discussed and presented by Eileen Tabios at this event:

[Click on image to enlarge]

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco
Koret Auditorium

BABAYLAN: A Roundtable Discussion of Bay Area Filipino Women Writers

Eileen R. Tabios joined other Pinay writers sharing narratives in progress and talking  about the importance of the Bay Area for their writing and practice.  Other participants were Jean Vengua, Arlene Biala, Veronica Montes, Elsa Valmidiano and Rose Booker.  Host was Barbara Jane Reyes.

Sponsors: Philippine American Writers and Artists and SFPL.

Barbara Janes Reyes, Veronica Montes, Eileen Tabios, Elsa Valdimiano, Jean Vengua, 
Rose Booker and Arlene Biala. (Sunny Vergara's photo). Art on screen by Trinidad Escobar.

PAWA founder Ed Lozada and Lisa at book table which featured, among others, SUN STIGMATATHE AWAKENING and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA

Long-time activist Terry Bautista with a copy of VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA!

Arlene Biala and Barbara Jane Reyes--something about the Giants...

Eileen was also moved to meet Amy Pabalan who was apparently published for the first time when I accepted one of her poems for VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA -- it's always special to midwife that first publication.

Thanks as well to Mitch Yangson who curates the Filipino American Center for the San Francisco Public Library.

Monday, October 20, 2014



At The Sitting Room - A Community Library, Eileen R. Tabios launched three 2014 books:

147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML) (gradient books, Finland)
SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems) (Marsh Hawk Press, New York)
as Editor, VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena)

Here are photos from the wonderful event:

Erin, a visiting student from Sonoma State University and 
The Sitting Room founder J.J. Wilson by the book table.

Scholar-poet Lily Mendoza

Poet-scholar Leny M. Strobel 

Among the delicious refreshments put together by Sheila Bare was
the above cracker with goat cream cheese and truffle honey. Truffle honey!

Home-made calamansi chips by noted poet-scholar and chef Leny M. Strobel!

Sadly, Eileen's books couldn't compete with Dr. Seuss for Gabriella's attention.



The Sitting Room - A Community Library (near Sonoma State University) will present a book launch for Eileen R. Tabios' three 2014 books:

147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML) (gradient books, Finland)
SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems) (Marsh Hawk Press, New York)

The event is free to the public and will take place at 2 pm, Saturday, November 1, 2014.  Please click on The Sitting Room link for directions and other information.  The Sitting Room is at  2025 Curtis Drive, Penngrove, CA.

Other poets from VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA, also will be present at the launch.  All book sales proceeds during this event -- not just from VTY but also Eileen Tabios' two other books -- will be donated for Haiyan relief.  To date, attending VTY poets will include Joi Barrios, Michelle Bautista, Leny Strobel and Marianne Villanueva!

Readings, discussions, Q&As -- you are invited to attend and participate!

For questions: email

Sunday, October 19, 2014


A Chicago launch for VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA was part of a typhoon memorial event--"Typhoon Haiyan, One Year Later: Remembrance and Reconstruction"--on  October 19, 2014 at the Assembly Hall (auditorium), International House, University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th St., Chicago, IL 60637.

The event began with a reception and included an art display, readings from the book, a musical performance, a dance, and a panel discussing reconstruction efforts. The panel consisted of UNICEF, a Tacloban medical mission, and a university professor.

The event is sponsored by the Filipino American National Historical Society--Midwest Chapter, the Chicago Arts Coalition, and U Chicago departments (Center for International Studies, Program for the Global Environment, and International House).

Information about the event is available on its Facebook page at

During the event, this video was played; VTY is noted at about 2:40:

Thanks to VTY contributor Almira Gilles for coordinating!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Eileen Tabios and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA participated in a 100 Thousand Poets for Change Event in Napa, CA -- funds were raised for both a program to help kids exposed to domestic violence and survivors of Haiyan.  Here are pics of organizer Glynda Velasco, who's also a poet in the anthology; fellow featured poet Janet Stickmon who presented her poetry reading as music to both a painter Angeli Lata and dancer Emee LaRose; the organizers; and various Open Mic poets in attendance:


Eileen Tabios and VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA will be participating in a "100 Thousand Poets for Change" event in Napa California.  Here's the flyer where she will be a featured poet in the referenced 6-8 pm Open Mic Fundraiser.

From the event's Press Release:


Time: 6:00-8:00PM 

Doors open and open mic sign ups open: 5:30PM
Open mic sign ups close at 7PM or when list is filled.

Location: Slack Collective Art Studios and Gallery
964 Pearl Street, Suite B. Napa, CA (Entrance in back of the building.)

Hosted by Jonathan Pyner (of Mewted Poetry Jam: Workshop and Open Mic)


Eileen Tabios’ 28th poetry collection, SUN STIGMATA, is forthcoming this Fall from the New York publisher Marsh Hawk Press.  She recently released the poetry book 147 MILLION ORPHANS and edited a 133-poet fundraising anthology for Haiyan/Yolanda typhoon survivors. Translated into seven languages, she received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. She is an avid bibliophile. When she is not publishing, critiquing, promoting, and writing books, she enjoys the scenery of  her St. Helena home along with her family which includes her husband, son, and four legged companion Achilles, as shown here in photo.

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets will be sold at this open mic event. Half of the book sales proceeds go to Yolanda and half to KEDS Program for this special 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Napa fundraiser event. KEDS (Kids Exposed to Domestic Violence Services) is a program of the nonprofit NEWS (Napa Emergency Women's Services). 

For more information about 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Napa or please contact co-organizer:
Glynda Velasco 
phone: (707) 501-3670 or 

More information at Facebook Event Page.