Ariadne’s Notes: The World Poetry Café on March 14 at 1:10 PM PST on CFRO, 100.5 FM had the honour to celebrate Naomi Beth Wakan ‘s book launch and poetry readings on Tanka and Haiku. Since Naomi was not able to call in, Victor Schwartzman (our super tech) and Ariadne Sawyer, host and producer took turns in reading different segments. This was the first time that we had done this and we did our best. I learned about both Haiku and Tanka and really liked the easy to learn format and the descriptions. This show had a lot of positive responses from listeners. Poems and information below.
Naomi Beth Wakan is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo (2013-2015) and the inaugural Honorary Ambassador for the Federation of BC Writers. She has published over 50 books, among which, her essays are in Late Bloomer-on writing later in life; Composition: notes on the written word; Bookends – a year between the covers; and A Roller-coaster ride – Thoughts on aging (all from Wolsak and Wynn), and On the Arts (Pacific-Rim Publishers), Bent Arm for a Pillow (Pacific-Rim Publishers). Here most recent books are Back and Forth (Pacific-Rim Publishers) and The Way of Tanka (Shanti Arts). Naomi is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, Haiku Canada and Tanka Canada. She lives on Gabriola Island with her husband, the sculptor, Elias Wakan.
“I am delighted to announce that my trilogy is at last complete. It covers an introduction to haiku and tanka writing for beginners. The books are “The Way of Haiku,” “The Way of Tanka,” and “Poetry that Heals.” I’d like to tell you a little about each book.
The Way of Haiku is a guide for learning to write the most popular form of Japanese poetry: haiku. It is also a comprehensive examination of the form and, I hope, an eye-opening view into the way that reading and writing haiku can change the way one looks at life. Writing haiku helps you appreciate the wonder of ordinary things and ordinary days. In “The Way of Haiku” I discuss the history of haiku’s development, its important literary elements, and the differences between haiku written in Japanese and those written in English. I provide numerous examples of haiku, some written by Japanese haijin (haiku writers) and presented in translation, and some written by English-speaking writers. In this book I hope to inspire readers to write their own haiku while remaining open to the possibilities it provides for personal growth. The book is 110 pages long. It comes in paperback and also as an e-book.
The Way of Tanka is an approachable yet comprehensive examination of the Japanese form of poetry known as tanka. In it I discuss tanka’s roots in early Japanese courts where it was considered the poetry of lovers, as well as its adaptation to western culture and the characteristics that separate it from the more popular form of Japanese poetry, haiku. It is 144 pages long and comes in paperback as well as an e-book.
In Poetry That Heals, I take the reader on a journey through my long experience writing various forms of Japanese poetry, especially tanka and haiku and its related genres. I include poems from well-known historical and contemporary poets. Looking back in this book, I realize that my practice of poetry writing has moved me towards developing awareness, dispassionate interest, personal healing, as well as compassion. I have come to see that in creating poetry, I am creating myself. The book is 110 pages long and comes in paperback as well as an e-book.
In Canada you can get the books from your neighbourhood bookstore, who can order them via Ingram, or buy them directly and quicker from firstname.lastname@example.org. They are $20 each, or $50 if you are getting the complete set.
For the USA and other countries the books can also be ordered through your neighbourhood bookstore, or directly from email@example.com
Naomi Beth Wakan
The Uses of Tanka
In Heian times, tanka were sweet confirmations between courtier lovers of deeds done and to be done. And also of court rapists, for dark chambers and many-layers of kimono hid identities, so seducers were never quite sure that they had entered the right woman. Even in such cases of mistake, the next morning the maiden would receive a token tanka speaking of her long hair perhaps, and other matters, and it would be attached to the prescribed branch from say a flowering cherry. She, in return, whether mad with anger, sulking, or perhaps with a small smile, would be obliged to also write a tanka, in response, commenting on the situation, and send it along with maybe a late blooming plum blossom. A few years later both women, whether seduced, or once loved, might be found writing more acerbic tanka complaining of neglect, or at least that the dwelling he had provided was not up to par. Tanka-writing would also be called for when noblemen, at time of banishment, (maybe for a political misstep, or for the seduction of the Emperor’s favourite) thought sadly of the Capitol they would be leaving for say the beaches of Suma (always a good place for writing mournful tanka of exile). These days, I write tanka when my haiku get uppity with the conceit that they have nailed the moment to the page. I slap them with two extra lines, reminding them that all things pass, particularly the “here and now” and even if things don’t pass as quickly as we would like, it’s all illusory anyway. Yes, tanka are useful for times such as these.
Naomi Beth Wakan (C) All rights reserved by author.