Thursday, August 14, 2014

Poetry That Heals - Naomi Beth Wakan

"Poetry That Heals” is a journey taken by essayist and poet, Naomi Beth Wakan. It is not a physical journey but a journey over thirty years of poetry writing during which her writing affected shifts in her personality. The sense-focused haiku, the feeling and intellectual qualities of tanka and the community-feeling of writing renku (poetry writing by a group of poets) all worked to first ground her in nature, then open her to deep feelings and help her mature a philosophy for her life and finally encourage an intuitive trust in living in community on her small island of Gabriola. A poetry journey that was physical, intellectual and psychological. As she explains, “poetry that heals.”

Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Beth Wakan, brings to us a wonderful dimension of Japanese poetic forms through the lens of how they have changed her inner life. From allowing us to set emotions aside through being-in–the-moment haiku, to its open expression in tanka, to the sharing with another individual in response tanka, and with the community in renku, we are taken on a movingly illustrated journey of the healing powers of poetry. The beautiful photographs by Elias Wakan that accompany the text capture ordinary moments that are suddenly timeless and take your breath, like visual haiku. Pamela J. Asquith, Professor of Anthropology, University of Alberta

In this delightful book, Naomi Beth Wakan takes us on a lighthearted but informative walk through the world of Japanese poetry. For her, writing Japanese poetry, from haiku through senryu and tanka to renku, has released a liberating and healing impulse, indeed changing her life. I learned much from this book, both about the principles guiding these art forms and the discipline derived from writing them. I recommend this book to all with an interest in the therapeutic power of poetry. Gary D Prideaux, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Alberta

In this inspired memoir, Naomi Beth Wakan’s exuberance is palpable on every page as she leads us on a journey through the realms of haikai (haiku and its related genres). Along the way we encounter many of the often controversial “rules” that attend the various forms. Naomi has considered the importance of these tenets without becoming ensnared. With resolve, and what Buddhism terms “the way-seeking mind,” she has reached the heart of what these forms, particularly haiku, have to offer: a deep and abiding appreciation for this ephemeral moment, an appreciation that transcends the written word. For Naomi, the journey has been both joyous and cathartic. By sharing her insights she encourages us to discover for ourselves the gifts of haikai. Christopher Herold, founding editor of The Heron‘s Nest

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