Making Handmade Books

A few days ago, I bought an oversized book titled Making Handmade Books: 110+Bindings, Structures & Forms, by Alisa Golden. I’ve never taken a bookmaking course, so, aside from a couple handmade books I made — one in high school, and one in college — this is my first real introduction to the art. The book making ideas in this volume look like origami patterns, and there’s a lot of them. Some are folded simply, some are sewn, some bound with tape, leather, or wood. I’m thinking it would be fun to make a bunch of one-off tiny chapbooks and distribute them or sell them for a small amount whenever I do a reading.



I wrote that last post on “the slog” on March 2nd. Just finally submitted the mss. to a press today, March 16th. Work and volunteerism got in the way. But, glad to get that done, finally. I hope they send gentle rejection slips.

the slog

OK, I’ve identified a possible publisher to which I could/will submit one of my poetry mss. And so begins the slog and the wait and the slog… and then there’s the other poetry mss. And then there’s the art book (prose/images) mss…

I’m thankful, however, that I have manuscripts! Plural! hell yeah!

Prurient Reading

My prurient reading of the day: 5 Shades of Gray, by Eileen Tabios. Oh my. 5 Shades of Gray whispers–succinctly, and sometimes mysteriously–of that which a novel like “you-know-what” could never approach at length. I am reminded of an earlier book of short stories, of a slightly different (but not unrelated) shade: Behind the Blue Canvas — also by Ms. Tabios, for which I wrote the introduction.

(And by the way, I am now a member of the Blue Canvas artists network).

Dawac and other Memoir-Narratives

Just received a copy of this lovely book in the mail, Dawac and other Memoir-Narratives, by Beatriz Tilan Tabios. I am happy to have had a hand in editing this volume, Part I of II:


DAWAC and Other Memoir-Narratives by Beatriz Tilan Tabios

ISBN No. 978-0-9826493-5-0
Release Date: Fall-Winter 2012
Available for $12.50 through Meritage Press ( and (
Available for $14.50 through
Meritage Press is delighted to release a first book by an author just shy of her 83rd birthday: DAWAC and Other Memoir-Narratives by Beatriz Tilan Tabios. DAWAC presents Mrs. Tabios’ childhood memories of Babaylans (indigenous Filipino healers) as well as surviving the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II.

DAWAC describes many incidents that would be lost today without the book’s existence. They also make history come alive, as only the testimony of someone who lived through the experience (versus a historian’s or academic’s account) can accomplish. An example is a section that describes how she and her family ran to the forests to hide whenever the Japanese army approached their town. As it turned out, it was during those times of hiding when she ended up being introduced to Greek poets, because Homer’s Iliad was a “little” book light enough to carry as she fled.

Beatriz Tilan Tabios received her B.A. with English as her major from the Silliman University in Dumaguete, Philippines. She developed her love for poetry as a sixth-grader reading Homer, William Shakespeare, John Keats, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge while trying to survive World War II. She would further develop her appreciation for literature as a college student instructed by poet Edith Tiempo, the first woman to receive the title of National Artist for Literature in the Philippines. Critic and fictionist Dr. Edilberto Tiempo, then the head of Silliman University’s English Department, encouraged Mrs. Tabios to continue her study of English and American literature. As a result, Mrs. Tabios wrote her Master of Arts thesis, one of the earliest investigations, regarding Filipino literature, of “(The Use of) Local Color in Short Stories in English.” Later, Mrs. Tabios taught English literature at Dagupan College (now University of Pangasinan) and University of Baguio, before becoming a teacher at Brent School, a boarding school initially built for children from U.S.-American military, missionary and gold-mining families stationed in the Far East.

Advance Words on DAWAC include, from award-winning critic and writer Albert B. Casuga:

I found Beatriz Tilan Tabios’ memoir to be in the classical style of story-telling, worthy of her training under Edilberto and Edith Tiempo. I read “Dawac” and liked the characterization of Apo Kattim, particularly the use of an Igolot extract that was the colloquial dialect in the sanctuaries of Baguling, La Union, where my family evacuated and were sheltered by the bagos (Ilocano-Igolot-Pangasinense mix) during the Japanese mop-up operation before Americans and Filipino guerrillas liberated the Northern provinces and the Cordilleras. I still speak a smattering of the Igolot of Apo Kattim, which I picked up as toddler during our refuge in Baguling’s mountains. Mrs. Tabios’ use of the dialect makes for an authentic character as memorable as those mang-ngagas or herbolarios. I, too, was “cured” by an Apo Anong when I was a little boy—he brushed some leaves all over my fevered body (according to my mother) to trap the “evil spirit” inside an egg; after praying to rid the spell that “punished” me, he threw the egg into some banana grove in my grandmother’s orchard (my mother swears to God the egg did not break!). The next day found me running around with my rambunctious cousins as I’d been “cured” of the malady. I learned these from mother’s own memoir.
—Albert B. Casuga, author of A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems

For more information:

The Names and Faces of People

I’m excited to receive this copy of my cousin, Vic. Groyon Jr.’s book of collected stories, entitled The Names and Faces of People. It’s compiled by his son, Vicente Garcia Groyon iii, the novelist and filmmaker.

I remember, when I was a kid, my parents receiving a copy of (I think) the Free Press magazine from the Philippines. In it was a story by my cousin–the first inkling I had that there were writers in my family. I can’t remember the title of the story–just that it was gritty and disturbing. I’m glad to finally get a closer look some of his other work.

And here is an Iowa Writer’s Workshop interview with his son, Vicente Garcia Groyon, visiting in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana: