Sunday, April 9, 2017

Cool Announcement: New Release, The Way of Tanka by Naomi Beth Wakan

My Dear Friends:

I'm happy to share with you this exciting news: NeverEnding Story contributor Naomi Beth Wakan just published her new book, The Way of Tanka, "The first book of its kind in Canada, it attempts to get to the heart of this developing form and includes not only the author’s insightful commentary, but also quotes from some of the most eminent scholars, publishers and writers of the form today."

Written in a lucid and readable style, Naomi Beth Wakan's The Way of Tanka is a highly practical guide that instructs readers on how to write tanka. She doesn’t give a definitive answer to the question, “what is or is not a tanka?” Instead, she encourages readers to read as many tanka as they can and to feel out the qualities that  make a “good” tanka. In the book, she not only provides a good sampling of published tanka that represent a broad spectrum of stylistic and thematic varieties, but also includes her detailed comments on some of the tanka that are thematically or structurally significant. I particularly like the section on “Pivot Lines and Last Lines”  (pp. 35-47; see an excerpt in the endnote below). It give readers a  renewed appreciation of  this minimalisitc yet highly expressive genre -- tanka, “the perfect vehicle for capturing the swift, direct pulse of emotion.”

About the Author

Naomi Beth Wakan is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo (2013-16). She has published over 50 books. Her poetry books include Sex after 70 and other poems and And After 80… (both from Bevalia Press) and Bent Arm for a Pillow (Pacific-Rim Publishers). Naomi is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, Haiku Canada and Tanka Canada and is the Inaugural Honorary Ambassador for the BC Federation of Writers. She lives on Gabriola Island with her husband, the sculptor, Elias Wakan.

Selected Tanka

a handful of coffee beans
I enjoy
this time of not chasing
this time of not being chased

Reiko Hakozaki

on the desert track
a mirage
her smile radiant
for the man behind me

Rodney Williams

her plane disappears
into starlight...
and somewhere
in her luggage
my love poem

Michael Dylan Welch

walking at night
along the sea
I feel like a coconut
washed up
from nowhere

Takuboku Ishikawa

wrote GREAT
in the sand
a hundred times
forgot about dying
and went on home

Takuboku Ishikawa

entering old age
I look less for truth
but find it more --
a mid-winter thaw reveals
pieces of sky

George Swede

your side
of the wardrobe
I wait to be filled
with possibility

David Terelinc

Note: Below is excerpted from "Pivot Lines and Last Lines" (pp. 36-7):

This link, this pivot, as I said earlier, is often the third line of the tanka,  In a way, it is hanging in the air so the poet can use it to swing from objective to subjective mood., or vice versa. To fulfill its function, therefore, the pivot line must make sense when read with the first two lines as well as when read as a precursor to the last two lines. In other words, the pivot line means one thing as a finish to the first couple of lines and something else as a herald to the last two lines. By this linking, both the initial image and the reaction to it  are not just joined, but are taken to deeper depths, and the full five lines resonate more fully with unexpected harmonies. The pivot line adds a richness to each section as well as revealing their connection....

...Let's consider this tanka by Francine Porad

a woman
holds a waving child high
as the train passes
where ... when ...
did summer disappear

The woman and child in this tanka do not have an obvious connection with summer until the line describing something passing speedily, "the train" is introduced. It links the two topics perfectly as the train passing speedily past the mother and child is compared with summer passing speedily in the consciousness of the writer, and may also be subtly suggesting that childhood moves to adulthood too fast ...

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