Evasco, Marjorie. “Book Review: Tabios, Eileen (ed). 2018. Humanity: An anthology Vol.1. California: Paloma Press. 210 pages.” Tambara: A Journal on the Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 35, no. 1, June 2018, pp. 81-84.
Twenty articles, including Tabios’s rather lengthy interview-conversation with John Bloomberg-Rissman on the poetics of arduity, constitute the anthology’s reach, offering a breadth of landscapes that extend from a rural Kenyan hospital’s intensive care unit where Mary Pan served as a volunteer doctor, to the frozen steppes of the Arctic where Christine Amour-Levar and a team of women activists lived with the Nenets reindeer herders of Siberia, in an expedition meant to inspire women to help women survivors of war. While these telluric spaces demanded from the writers the courage to undergo difficult physical and cultural adaptations for survival, the complex inner terrains of human relationships required of them even finer skills to apprehend the basic gestures of kindness and generosity that have marked, and continue to mark, humanity’s survival.
Humanity is a book where the gravity of this child’s cry is already clearly heard by those who listen, not only to the harrowing cries of the trespassed today, but also to the “stories of endings” in a foreseeable future, as the late poet Marthe Reed and co-editor Linda Russo say in Counter-desecration: A glossary for writing in the anthropocene (2018). All the writers gathered in the book are already adept in creating and re-membering the vocabulary of this language, where the act and art of writing is not to conceal from the mind and heart the many transgressions by humanity of humanity and the earth, but to reveal these living wounds and point to where and how humanity’s indomitable spirit may reach that mountain peak home.
About the reviewer: Marjorie Evasco is Professor Emeritus of Literature at De La Salle University, Manila and a University Fellow. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and sits in the teach- ing panels of national writing workshops in Dumaguete and Bacolod. She serves her home island Bohol in her advocacy for the preservation and continuity of its cultural and natural heritage through teaching literature and creative writing. Among her books of creative nonfiction, Ani: The life and art of Hermogena Borja Lunday, Boholano painter (2006), The Bohol we love (2018) and Valentina’s valor: Stories from the life and times of Valentina Galido Plaza (2019), embody the fact that she is irrevocably and happily “lured by the local.”