Eucalypt is the first Australian journal devoted to this ancient Japanese poetry genre. Japanese waka (now called tanka) are five-segmented poems. In English they are usually written in five lines. Often they address profound human emotions, such as love or mourning, but can also be used to record everyday experience. The genre is 1300 years old, but is surprisingly relevant to the way we think and feel today.
Eucalypt is a print magazine which showcases contemporary tanka poetry, written in the English language and publishes only those poems its editors consider of the highest standard. Its objectives are to offer wider publication opportunities to tanka poets and to make more people aware of the delights of reading and writing tanka.
There are two issues per year, in May and in November.
Eucalypt magazine contains tanka only. News, discussion and awards are disseminated in a complimentary electronic newsletter which is sent several times throughout the year at irregular intervals to those who indicate they would like to receive one; contact the editor. Articles are available on this web-site and appraisals of specific tanka are available under both the Bowerbird and Scribble Awards links.
Eucalypt is supported by a web-site at: www.eucalypt.info
On this website Eucalypt hosts articles and information about the tanka scene in Australia, including regional tanka groups
The editor of Eucalypt is Beverley George. [see empty garden, a collection of her tanka] It is envisaged that other tanka poets will be invited to co-edit individual issues on an occasional basis.
PO Box 3274
Umina Beach NSW 2257
Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 1, 2006)
Edited by Beverley George
Reviewed by Jan Dean
Eucalypt is the first Australian literary journal entirely devoted to tanka. Its subtle green cover with a horizontal photograph by the editor, Beverley George, features blemished eucalyptus leaves which brings to mind the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, the appreciation of transient beauty. In his book Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Leonard Koren describes this aesthetic as an acceptance of the ‘ imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete’. While advocates of this concept would typically select aged parchment or motley paper with a ‘tooth’, the paper used for Eucalypt is smooth and unflawed, and it appeals to the tactile and visual senses: the print hovers slightly above the page, capturing shimmer when moved under a light. It is a sumptuous presentation for an impressive collection.
Beverley George is an award-winning poet. Her son Matthew has designed the layout to include one, two or three, occasionally four tanka per page, so that surrounding space gives each tanka due importance.
Constraints of the tanka form give rise to diverse and surprising approaches: while the first three lines are anchored in precise, everyday observation, the final two often flow into profound and/or philosophical thought, as in . . .
feeling almost invisible
at my age
a sense of expecting
to float away on the tide . . . — Melissa Dixon (Canada)
This extended metaphor captures the human condition at the point of a heightened awareness of encroaching age. In a similar vein, there is…
posidonia ball . . .
at the same slow pace — John Barlow (England)
it’s here we built
sand palaces in my youth,
each drip castle
shaped by supple fingers —
the ones that fail me now — an’ya (USA).
Speaking with charm, A Thiagarajan of India, employs humour that mocks lovingly:
but all my wife sees
are her earrings
dancing in each movement
Incorporating emotion into its concise form, a tanka is lyrical, expressing insight through careful observation akin to meditation.
Of the nine countries represented in Eucalypt, almost half are Australian contributions. Although I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world, in the interests of balance and patriotism, I can’t resist quoting three of my countrymen…
chew raw sugarcane
discard dry fibres —
recalling that sweetness
I stir my tea slowly — Ellen Weston
the clean doona cover
I remember your white arms
pummelling a feather bed — Marian Morgan
mangoes on our tree
hang, ripe and rounded,
flushed with sun,
when you return tonight
their scent will fill the garden — Maxwell Ryan
Ah, the joys and sorrows of relationships! Fresh linen, sugarcane, mango; assaulting our senses; they’re all part of this collection, along with exuberance, nostalgia and melancholy, human frailty and resistance. It is a privilege to share the worlds of others. The number of tanka devotees is growing. Mainstream poets would have much to gain by exposure to the delights of Eucalypt.
Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, lives at Cardiff Lake Macquarie. Her poetry collection, With One Brush, won the Best First Book section of the IP Picks (Interactive Press, Brisbane) 2007 competition, and is due for release this Spring (October/November).
This Review was first published in five bells: Australian Poetry 14 (2) autumn 2007. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Jan Dean and the editor of five bells.
Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal
Edited by Beverley George (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Biannual, May and November. Subscriptions: US$30 (USA, Canada, Europe)
Book Review by Linda Jeannette Ward for Gusts 6 Fall/Winter 2007
Beverley George's Australian journal Eucalypt is devoted exclusively to tanka, with its silky pages befitting the flowing, elusive nature of this poetic form. With the recent release of Issue 2, George is assisted by Julie Thorndyke, and has increased the number of tanka and contributors while maintaining the high standard of quality that she brought to Issue 1.
The tanka published in Eucalypt are arranged according to surprising associations that prompted this reader to reread the poems for the joy of finding new connections and deeper meanings each time. This touch reflects dedication to the art and craft of editing we came to appreciate during the years of George's publication of Yellow Moon, an Australian literary magazine. It's rare for a poet with such exceptional gifts as George to also excel as an editor, but in the pages of Eucalypt you'll find that it is so.
From Issue 1, this wonderful synchronicity of tanka by poets who were inspired by crimson touched rocks.
of a cat grooming itself
all the cobble-stones
are on fire with sunset
Mariko Kitakubo, Japan
shiny black blobs
on wet jagged rocks
touched with red
an oyster-catcher's cry
tears holes in the canvas
M L Grace, Australia
Issue 2 seems to offer more variety in content and arrangement of form than Issue 1, with poems placed two to four per page. George and Thorndyke somehow manage to select tanka that reflect the lyrical quality of this literary tradition while allowing for variance in syllable count in its English expression. From two veteran tanka poets:
all the cliches
and even this silence
Sanford Goldstein, Japan
"thinking of SG"
you speak often
of spilling five lines down
a five-tiered waterfall
read by the sun
Larry Kimmel, USA
With Eucalypt, I find reading tanka can be as fulfilling as writing this enticing form, with poems that stay with you long after...
even the kiss
I would have long forgotten
if the stars
had not been out in the sky
so bright and unexpected
Patricia Prime, New Zealand
This Review was first published in Gusts 6 Fall/Winter 2007. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Linda Jeannette Ward and the editor of Gusts.
Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 3, 2008)
Edited by Beverley George
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke
To launch a new quality poetry journal is an achievement – to sustain a high standard of publication and content into the third issue is remarkable. From a seed of an idea, to a sapling and now a solid and vital young tree, Eucalypt Issue three has done just that. This new journal is a delight to read, a pleasure to hold in the hand, and each page brims with poems to savour in the heart.
Eighty poets from eight countries (USA, Japan, UK, Australia, NZ, China, Canada, and South Africa) shine in this top-notch collection of tanka. Beverley George has done poets in Australia a huge service by employing her extensive international poetry network to establish a publication platform in our own country that encourages new writers in this genre and places their work side-by-side with internationally renowned English-language tanka poets.
The leading poem by Michael Thorley, presented against an evocative black and white photograph, sets the tone. His understated lament of lost love takes a classic tanka shape. Complete with a pivot in the third line, ‘the dry heart’ of both the landscape and the poem’s persona demonstrates expert use of the common tanka device of mirroring emotional states with natural phenomena. Thorley builds to a crescendo in the fourth and fifth lines: ‘too full of memories / to go back alone.’
Nature themed poems follow in the next pages, leading to a change of pace in Cathy Altman’s ‘red flush / of the dying sun’ that then dives thematically into family relationships. The thread is taken up by Sanford Goldstein’s grandfather poem, and carried on by poems on generational continuity by Carole Macrury, Irene Golas and Linda Jeanette Ward.
George’s editorial skill shines throughout this collection, not only for the high bar she sets in acceptance criteria for the journal, but also for the artful way she has grouped the tanka thematically, so that the poems resonate against each other almost like short, themed sequences.
Some sly Christmas warmth sneaks in on pages 8 and 9, but without any trace of sentimentality. Ellen Weston’s dry
in being good
for a myth –
Santa never comes
to our nursing home
is an example of modern tanka that is unafraid to cut to the chase and make a social statement.
Distant voices link Maria Steyn’s masterful work from South Africa
a distant roar
of lions from the plains
father’s steady voice
telling childhood stories
by the fires’ warmth
with another wistful offering from Michael Thorley. Death makes a quiet entrance in
against the rocks
the dry whispers
of night nurses
Terra Martin (p.14)
and the beautifully oblique meditation on mortality
your strong stride
carries you further away
at the bones of a slow death
caught by its foot in the fence
by Australian Lorraine Haig on p.22 emphasises the distance between all things, living or dead, no matter which species or modality of thought we travel in.
Japanese poets are also represented in the journal, as in this soulful tanka:
there is no way
but that one carries
one’s own burden
in the dimness of day
Aya Yuhki (p.27)
The themes and images of this collection are many and various: dawn, seasons, clouds, parenthood, generational change, parents, Christmas, piano practice, age, infirmity, death, lions, chooks, cats, Life with a capital ‘L’– all in little dart-like poems that effortlessly find their mark in the reader’s sensibility.
War, drought, love desire – all follow, but the collection finishes on an upbeat note with the wry, self-depreciating humour of Lesley Walter’s ‘creative cook’ with writer’s block, and Barbara Fisher’s
lying in bed
this rainy morning
a walk is utterly
out of the question
There is a boom in English language tanka publishing internationally, and many new poets are adopting this short form. Eucalypt ranks highly in this up-swell of tanka publications and is a worthy ambassador for Australia poetry overseas. One of the qualities of Eucalypt that appeals to me tremendously is that Beverley George has resisted the temptation to editorialise. There is no introduction, comment or commentary from the editor, although her skill, taste and impeccable judgement are everywhere evident in this issue.
The alphabetical index of poets at the back of the journal is a role-call of the cream of contemporary tanka writers in English – and inclusion of the country of origin gives an instant overview of the geographic coverage of this high quality journal. Even here, in the index, maximum information is given with minimal clutter. As in good tanka, less is more.
There are many shimmering leaves on this poetry tree: and a great number of them are from our own Australian tanka writers.
This Review was first published in five bells: Australian Poetry 15 (1) Summer 2008. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Julie Thorndyke and the editor of five bells.
Eucalypt, A Tanka Journal, issue 4 2008, issn: 1833-8186, edited by Beverley George, illustrated by Pim Sarti and Kathryn Harrison, 44 pages, A5 size, 4.75 x 8.25 inches (15x21 cm) saddle-stitched. Two issues per year, May and November.
Reviewed by Carole MacRury
With this fourth edition of Eucalypt, editor Beverley George has once more convinced me that good things come in small packages and that less is often more. The cool green cover design appeals to the sense of touch and one almost feels that if you pressed your nose to the pages you might catch the lingering scent of eucalyptus. The artful cover design of Matthew George is an invitation to savor 41 pages of carefully selected poetry from a total of 89 poets from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, Britain, South Africa, France, India, Japan and China. Two, three and up to four poems, are placed on each page, but staggered in different ways to keep the mind engaged and to provide relief for the eyes. The editor wisely accepts no more than two poems per poet and sets the bar high for quality and diversity in style and voice.
With consummate skill this poet/editor has managed to merge poems in such a way that while each gem of poetry is enjoyed on its own, they graze slightly off each other in theme and/or mood. But even more, the last verse echoes back to the first verse which immediately invites another complete reading of the book.
all at once
I crave newspaper, kindling
a lighted match –
such strange intuition
knowing when to move on
the shelducks’ prints
flatten into mud. . .
everyone I love
Who can not see and feel the spark of the match, both real and metaphorically in Gillian’s poem about the intuitive urge to leave the present and move into the future. It’s about new beginnings, knowing when to let go, knowing when to walk away leaving the ashes of the old life behind. John’s poem contrasts objective imagery with a reflective response reminding us that nothing is ever completely left behind, that memories are carried with us and fragments can re-surface at the slightest moment.
in the garden
just before dusk
touching plants, leaves, flowers
as I never touched you
shiny black head
in the rain
on the stereo
The confessional honesty of Margaret Chula’s poem strikes to the bone with its evocative setting and superb final line. This poem about a personal realization is placed strategically in the center of the book. M. Kei’s poem reminds us that not all tanka need be about personal insights. His striking and sensory juxtaposition offers the reader a visual and auditory experience. Who could not sink into the mood suggested by the wet darkness of a robin’s head and the darkness of the music of a Russian composer?
Throughout the journal, the editor skillfully weaves a pattern of voices and themes that offer the very best of writing skills; originality, unique insights, vivid imagery, concise writing and dynamic word choices.
Carole MacRury is a Canadian poet and photographer residing in Point Roberts, Washington. She is affiliated with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, serves as secretary/treasurer of the Tanka Society of America, is a member of haiku and tanka associations in Canada and the US. Her poetry is published internationally and her photography has been featured on the covers of Ribbons and Modern Haiku.
Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal
Edited by Beverley George
Reviewed by Thelma Mariano
Eucalypt , Australia's first tanka journal, was named after the “gum tree” indigenous to this region. Distinctive groupings of this tree grow in different areas of Australia, shaped by the climate and terrain where they live. So too are the poems, over 100 in number, which are clustered according to subject and tone, blending themes of nature with poignant moments in our evolving human lives.
Each well-crafted tanka has been carefully selected to flow one from the other like an orchestrated waterfall. The strategic placement of poems on glossy pages, interspersed with artwork reflecting the natural world, creates excellent visual variety.
The journal itself, edited by Beverley George, is A5 size, measuring 5.75" x 8.25" and saddle-stitched. Its cover is a soothing green, graced by a photograph of eucalypt leaves on the front. It's a handsome book that can be easily tucked into a bag or purse for further reflection. Many of its contributing poets hail from Australia, giving it an authentic flavor. I recommend Eucalypt to anyone who loves tanka and is looking for a journal that truly captures the aesthetics of the form.
This Review was first published in in Ribbons 3 (3) Autumn 2007. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Thelma Mariano and the editor of Ribbons.