Naomi Beth Wakan Featured World Poet from Gabriola Island!

Featured Poet

Naomi Beth Wakan is a poet and personal essayist. She has written over thirty books including the ALA selection, “Haiku – one breath poetry. Her recent titles from Wolsak and Wynn include “Late Bloomer – on writing later in life,” and “Book Ends – a year between the covers”. Her essays and poetry have appeared in many magazines including Geist, Room, Resurgence and Gusts. She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, Tanka Canada and Haiku Canada. She lives on Gabriola Island with her husband, the sculptor, Elias Wakan. 

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Keeping Clothes White

Everyone has something they do
when there is nothing else
that can be done – some knit,
some jog, some pour
alcohol down their throats,
and then…
some choose to do the laundry.

The summer of our separation
I washed white trousers,
white socks, white shirts,
white shorts, as if my marrage
depended on their whiteness.
So when I heard of the woman,
living in the Gaza strip,
going to the pump for water and
searching for bits of soap
to keep the girls’ dresses white,
I recognised a sister straightway.
For though we are oceans apart,
that summer we could have been
standing side by side pumping
water together to keep our
children’s clothes white;
not knowing, in our desperation,
what other action could be taken.

Naomi Beth Wakan (C)

 Ariadne wrote: Naomi read to this poem on the World Poetry Cafe Radio on March 15th and I asked permission to print it here. I really like it!

How to write a haiku

Details confuse me,
so when I see a rose,
although I do not know
its pedigree, I write down “rose.”
And when I cut it,
I do not know whether
I should cut it on a slant
or straight, or under water twice,
so I write down “cut.”
And when I put it in a vase,
I do not know whether it is raku
or glaze, or, perhaps good plastic,
so I write down “vase.”
and when I see two red leaves

on the earth beside the rose bush,
I do not know from which tree
they have fallen
so I write down “red leaves.”
And as I set the vase
and the leaves on the table,
I write down

rose just cut
beside the vase
two red leaves
And although I do not know
the details of what I have just done,
the sadness of it all
cracks my heart open.

Naomi Wakan (C)

New Book just out!
Sex After 70 and Other Poems contains new and selected poems from Naomi Beth Wakan’s output over the last 14 years (1996-2010). Her poetry, while down-home and familiar, presents fresh angles on the topics of relationships, writing, cosmology and the arts. Her directness and conversational tone are disarming.

Naomi Beth Wakan’s poetry sharpens the senses, stimulates the intellect and opens the heart. Her poems are simple and easy to understand, but they have depth and bear reading over and over again. Naomi allows us to become attuned to the potentiality of each moment, the joy in the savoured moment, the sadness of loss as that moment must inevitably be let go.”
Sonja Arntzen
Professor Emeritus, East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.
The book is obtainable from book stores, online and from at

World Poetry Cafe E-Poet is Pieter-Joris Morssink World Poetry Featured Poet From Australia!
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