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Buy books! Not only do you champion another writer, like yourself, the dollars are votes of support and encouragement which money cannot buy. For this act, your mailbox will bloom and your hands will soften while holding the words with heart. And you will meet your own face shining. Blessed be!

cur*rent: linked haiku by Marlene Mountain and Francine Porad. Vandana Press, 6944 SE 33rd, Mercer Island, WA 98040-3324. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 by 8.5 inches, 28 pp. contains black and white art by Marlene Mountain and tipped-in color plates of Francine Porad's watercolors. Price: $10.00 plus $1.00 p & h.

In addition to the seven one-line, 36-link poems between Marlene Mountain and Francine Porad, the book, cur*rent opens with a Foreword by Randy Brooks followed by a wittily composed essay on the work of Marlene Mountain in the form of an acrostic interview by Jim Kacian spelling out the name of her projected book - from the mountain. As always there is lots to learn from Marlene's lips.

The heart of the book is, however, the seven collaborative works done between Francine Porad and Marlene Mountain beginning in March, 1990, and ending in August, 1998.

In the beginning, the poems were written by mail so the slower pace allows a change of seasonal references to mark and advance the images. Later, the poems were done in 3 - 5 days by email which quickens the action considerably.

The partners are well-matched from interests: both are writers and artists, both rely on families and news media for link inspiration, both have strong views on the world and politics and the grace to say it well.

In the same way that their individual artworks are very different yet somehow flow together, their words seem to merge and blend while retaining each writer's individual voice. Even without indications of speaker, one feels the shift as the other voice chimes in another font.

To write 252 links on various subjects could have been a challenge, but this duo have such wide interests, and the ability to 'forget the rules' of haiku subject matter, that they range across all areas of interest to women, and to men, also, for that matter. The humor, the wordplays, the honesty, the glimpses of the real persons behind this book make it one that should go beyond 'just' the 'haiku community' into the global one.

Excerpted lines from "this lifetime" by Francine Porad and Marlene Mountain:

 

Persian gulf crisis Saudi women pull back their veils

another lesbian community forms

pollinator planted skimmia's lush red berries

i just wanna be rootical

 

 

gusts by Marianne Bluger. Penumbra Press Poetry Series, ISBN: 0 921254 86 5. Perfect bound, 4 x 6 inches, 110 pp.

Marianne Bluger's three-year fascination with the tanka form is documented in this impressive book from Penumbra Press continuing the quality in the press's long line of outstanding poetry publications. The same care and craft that one has come to expect from Bluger in her haiku is carried over, successfully, into her tanka writing. She has certainly done her homework, has studied the many various fashions of Japanese tanka writing and is competent enough to use any and all of them to suit the needs of the individual poems. The range of subjects and attitudes is quite impressive and keeps this collection of over 200 tanka always fresh and innovative. They have been arranged into seven titled sections serving as series to garner and enforce the various moods.

As much as I have admired Marianne Bluger's haiku, it is a pleasure to admit that I am even more impressed and delighted with her tanka. It feels as if she has come home to her own genre.

A sample of how well Bluger uses all the techniques of tanka:

In moonlight ghostly
by a long tradition
we lie together
not yet pried apart
by death's velvet gloves

toccata and intermezzo by anne mckay. Wind Chimes Press, c/o Anne Mckay, 1506 Victoria Dr., Vancouver, BC V5l 2Y9 Canada. intermezzo (92 pp) $6.50; toccata (60 pp) $4.00. Both saddle-stapled, 7 x 4 inches.

Though both of these books, in the typical anne mckay style and manner, bring in addition to haiku, a few five-line poems and others which are slightly longer, I would have to say that it is anne mckay's haiku which knock me out. If I had to give one reason for the reader to buy these books, I would say, "get them for the haiku in them; they are well worth the small price."

Though mckay is rightfully known as one of the best haiku writers of these times, her movement into the fullness of tanka has been changed by the strength of her haiku voice.

the tribe gathers
within the red gate
waits
within the red gate
ready

Perhaps the experienced tanka reader can breathe into the white spaces of mckay's poem the unspoken images to complete the picture. As always, much of the 'success' of mckay's minimal poetry lies with the sensibility and ability of the reader to fill in the blanks. Still, for the conscientious reader, the one attuned to the whites of the pages, the soft grays of the print, the cascading lines, the pregnant pauses, there is much to discover and delight in anne mckay's poems.

Soul's Inner Sparkle: Moments of Waka Sensations by Fr. Neal Henry Lawrence. Bilingual in English and Japanese. Translated by Aya Yuhki. Hardcover, with dust jacket, 149 pp.

This first book of Father Lawrence's tanka, published in English in 1978, and surely out of print, has been beautifully reissued in hard cover. For English readers who treasured Father Lawrence's last English book of tanka, Shining Moments (AHA Books, 1993) and wish for more of his work, and especially his earliest work, will be thankful for this second chance to obtain these poems.

For Father Lawrence's Japanese readers, however, they will have the opportunity finally to have his tanka poems in their own language. Aya Yuhki's translations and her own tanka have been published enough in Lynx for us to have perfect confidence in her ability to carry Father Lawrence's poems to the people of his adopted land.

A sample of Father Lawrence's strict 5-7-5-7-7 tanka style in English:

Not even a bud
Flowers all gone. leaves only
Urge of glory lost.
Vision of beauty in mind,
More real than reality

Songs from a Bamboo Village: Selected Tanka from Takenosato Uta by Shiki Masaoka. Translated from the Japanese by Sanford Goldstein and Seishi Shinoda. Tuttle: 1998. ISBN: 0-8048-2085-6. Available through any bookstore worldwide. Perfect bound, trade paperback, 488 pp., $16.95.

The original publication of Shiki's book, Takenosato Uta (Songs from a Bamboo Village) was in 1904, two years after his death on September 19, 1902. This book was based on a handwritten manuscript containing Shiki's tanka written after 1897. In this first edition a smaller portion of the Shiki tanka were given ink.

However, in 1954, Shiki' original manuscript suddenly came to light and it contained 1,933 tanka, five ch ka and twelve sed ka and in 1956 this complete version of Takenosato Uta was published in Japanese. From this number, Goldstein and Shinoda have translated 298 of the tanka.

The English edition of the selections from this book opens with a comprehensive biography of Shiki Masaoka including commentary on his place in history, his journalist career, his place as literary critic, his poetry and his life.

The tanka are divided according to the year of their first publication and given the series titles in which the poems were first embedded. This 126-page section of the book, given lots of space often only three tanka to a page with the light gray numbers and bamboo logo, is a joy to read and a fitting atmosphere for the tanka.

On a few pages come the romaji rendering of the each of the tanka written in one line with slashes to indicate the line endings. There is no kanji in the book.

Afterwards comes copious notes (180 pages) on the poems in which Goldstein explains the situation in which the poem was written or published and also discusses details in the poems from the angle of language and Japanese grammar to give clues to Shiki's abilities and intentions for his words. One feels the hours of research and writing which flowed into this book to bring this much detail to the tanka poems of Shiki.

Concluding the book are more endnotes on the biographical material. Goldstein is thorough and for that, we are greatly in his debt.

However, this is a book of translations of the tanka written by Shiki. So how do these stack up? I will let the reader decide by comparing the same poem one of Shiki's most famous translated by Sanford Goldstein:

these clusters
of wisteria in a vase
were long, long
and still, still, not long enough were they
to reach the tatami mats

or from Janine Bleichman's book on Masaoka Shiki (published by Kodansha) containing the same tanka as:

wisteria
in the vase
so short
it doesn't touch
the floor

compared to a word-for-word and line-by-line translation from Hatsue Kawamura:

kame - the vase; ni - into; sasu - put

fuji - wisteria; no - of; hanabusa - clusters

mijikakereba - as it is short

tatami - woven grass mats; ue - on; ni - to

todokazari - do not reach; keri - exclamatory particle

Regardless of the reader's opinion of the tanka of Shiki, or his haiku for that matter, or his attempts to revolutionize these two genres, Shiki was a pivotal force in Japanese literary history. Thus we are grateful for every work of translation which brings the life of this man closer to our understanding.

 

Airport by Ishigaki Ch ko. Published in Canada by KDC; 1998. Perfect bound, 215 pp., bilingual with English and kanji renderings of the 200 tanka. E-mail: karendc@globetrotter.qc.ca for the publisher, or the author at: seiwaemi@osk3.3web.ne.jp to obtain this book.

Airport is the perfect name for Ch ko Ishigaki's fourth book of tanka. She has formed this collection out of her previous three books by arranging her poems over the years by the world-wide trips she has taken. She flies from Japan, to Canada, to the USA, to Mexico down into South America. Starting back in Japan she continues on through the years to Russia, Europe, Greece, Israel (where she evidently studied), to Africa, the Arab States, on to Asia.

Born in China in 1931, Ishigaki was moved to Japan with her mother just before the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident and has lived in Tokyo ever since. As Dean of Graduate School, Seiwa College she is a Ph.D Professor of Early Childhood Education which partially explains her penchant for traveling. Also it seems she has friends and family spread across the globe.

As an active member of the Kuriudo Tanka Club and the Japan Poets Club Tanka Study Group, Ishigaki has had a liberal education in tanka writing so her range of techniques and methods is as large as is her range of subjects. A sample of the tanka of Ch ko Ishigaki:

I shiver
in the Grand Canyon
realizing that our dislocation
is mirrored in the chasm
of the earth

 

In Paris,
the room of Rousseau
has turned into a restaurant.
I photographed the room
that may have been his.

alone tonight by Larry Kimmel. A Winfred Press Book: 1998. Perfect bound, 5.5 x 8.5, 70 pp., $10.00. Order from Winfred Press, 364 Wilson Hill Road, Colrain, MA 01340.

alone tonight also lists as its contents: haiku, tanka & other sudden lyrics. Though one cannot help reading and appreciating the haiku in Larry's book, for this review, I will pretend there are only tanka. But anyone who regularly reads Lynx will surely be fully acquainted with Kimmel's tanka and with the tan renga he writes so well with Carol Purington.

So it is good news that he has made a collection of his recent works, and includes such a generous portion of his excellent tanka.

Recently I seem to be surrounded by people new to tanka writing who cannot yet integrate smoothly the outer world of nature with the inner world of nature. I long to show these people how competently Larry Kimmel does this with such poems as:

Again tonight
along the color-ribboned river
I feel its frail insistence
this hunger, tissue thin
behind my breastbone.

Tanka Splendor 1998. Judged by Hatsue Kawamura. Saddle-stapled, 48 pp., $7.00 ppd. AHA Books, pob 1250, Gualala, CA 95445.

Tanka Splendor 1998, the ninth in this series, brings the 31 individual tanka awards and three winning tanka sequences for your enjoyment and study.

The judge, Hatsue Kawamura, of Ibaraki Japan, also authored the essay on tanka which introduces her picks from over 700 entries in the contest. Also included is her tanka:

toward the end
of a long rainy season,
in the hospital
my husband with cancer
I left . . . light-headed

The list of winning authors includes: Fay Aoyagi - USA, Pamela A. Babusci - USA, Geri Barton - USA, Janice Bostok - Australia, Michael Cecilione - USA - 2, Margaret Chula - USA, Tom Clausen - USA - 2, Cherie Hunter Day - USA, Jeanne Emrich - USA - 3, Rafael Jess Gonzlez - USA, Sumiko M. Hamlow - US, Elizabeth Howard - USA, Joyce Sandeen Johnson - USA - 2, Larry Kimmel - USA, Robert Kusch - USA, Angela Leone - USA - 2, Edith Mize Lewis - USA, June Moreau - USA, Michael Nickels-Wisdom - USA - 3, Cogn Noon - USA, Daniel Schwerin - USA, John Stevenson - USA, Linda Jeannette Ward - USA, Jeff Witkin - USA - 2, Aya Yuhki - Japan.

As gentle reminder the rules for this year's awards are in the back of this issue of Lynx and the deadline for having your poems in-hand is September, 30, 1999. If you are new to tanka or the contest, surely having a copy of this book will increase your ability to pick from your own poems the most appropriate.

VRH PLANINE - MOUNTAIN TOP HAIKU by Dusko Matas. Illustrated by Nada Ziljak. Published by Galerija Sv Ivan Zelina, Zagreb: 1998. Hard cover, 84 pp. bilingual. E-mail: FS@zg.tel.hr for ordering information and availability.

Beautifully made book such a marvelous treatment for well-written haiku. The sensitive watercolor crayon illustrations by Nada Ziljak are perfect companions for haiku and worth the buying of the book at any price.

Ladybug in a Bottle by Nina A. Wicker. Persephone Press available from Birch Brook Press, pob 81, Delhi, NY 13753 for $17.75 ppd. Hand-set press with hand-tied pages, 8.5 x 5.5, 36 pp.

As computers bring us more and better books, these hand-set books become priceless. This "ladybug" comes with excellent haiku, two to a page, from an expert writer. Sample:

mountain trail
arched in tobacco juice
the old man's directions

Soul of the Seasons: An Anthology of Haiku edited by Ikkoku Santo. ISBN: 4-89008-248-4 printed in Japan. Hardcover with full-color dust jacket, 4.5 x 6 inches, Bilingual with kanji, 90 pp. 700

In celebration of his 90 years, and result of his editing "Azami [Thistle]" magazine, which publishes haiku from around the world, Ikkoku Santo has put together a first-class book of haiku in English and Japanese.

somewhere among the clouds poems -- from a year of solitude by vincent tripi. Swamp Press, 1998, with letterpress excellence. Hand-tied, 8 x 8.5, gated cover, multi-colored inks. Write to Vince Tripi, apt. #2054, 6445 So. Maple Ave., Tempe, AZ 85283 to obtain a copy of this soon-to-be rare book.

Vintage vince, well-ripened, the holy spirit of haiku, ratchets the creation of beautiful books up another notch with tasteful artwork and a touch of colored inks. Desert living adds a new dimension to the poems of our contemporary 'old master'.

Where i first
catch a glimpse-of the pond
a perfect skipping stone

 

A Splash of Sunlight by Janice M. Bostok. Saddle-stapled, 36 fully packed pages, $5.00. Janice M. Bostok, 260 Campbell's Road, Dungay, NSW 2484, Australia.

Interestingly enough, each page begins and ends with a one-line haiku which serve as 'gates' to 5 or 6 three-line haiku. Lots of life, lots of loving, a lady who is a living 'master' of her art.

watchful the night heron lowers his neck into shadow

fLaming cRust by Ficus strangulensis and Do something that I can think of as art. by Jim Leftwich. Both books by Luna Bisonte Prods, 137 Leland Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43214. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 x 8.5,36 pp., $7.00 ppd each.

If you are ready to have poetry chopped up and reassembled into whizzing graphics that open up the sinuses, do check out these books from the stable of John. M. Bennett. Just when you think these guys have gone over the edge they pop up with new ideas for serious outrageousness. Right next door to haiku and tanka yet ripping the covers off the modesty and mediocrity another door slams open. Art you cannot ignore.

Copyright Jane Reichhold 1999.

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