Beverley George is well known as the editor of Yellow Moon and
more recently as editor of Australia's first tanka magazine, Eucalypt.
She now releases her first book of tanka.
Her many achievements in tanka include publication in nineteen international magazines. In competitions she placed second in 2005 and first in 2006 in the Tanka Society of America's International Competition.
Reviews of empty garden
by David Bacharach : Modern English Tanka,
Volume 1, Number 2. Winter 2006.
by Patricia Prime: Stylus Poetry Journal,
Issue24: January 2007 (Reviews). (An edited version of this review by Patricia Prime was published in a fine line the magazine of The New Zealand Poetry Society, Te Hunga Tito Ruri o Aotearoa January 2007.)
by Robert D Wilson: Simply Haiku Spring 2007.
by Aya Yuhki (Japan) in The Tanka Journal [Japan] # 30 2007 p. 31 reproduced here with permission.
by Kirsty Karkow, vice-president of the Tanka Society of America: published in the print journal Five Bells: Australian Poetry Volume 13 No. 1 Summer 2006 pp.42-43
by Kirsty Karkow, vice-president of the Tanka Society of America: published in Tanka Canada's print journal Gusts No. 5 Spring/Summer 2007
by Dr Doreen King (UK) in Blithe Spirit, print journal of The British Haiku Society Vol 17 No 1 March 2007
by Maria Steyn (South Africa) in Ribbons, print journal of the Tanka Society of America, Volume 3, No. 2 Summer 2007
empty garden was commended in the 2007 Society of Women Writers (NSW) Inc. Biennial Book Awards – poetry section
This book review is reproduced here with the permission
of the author, Aya Yuhki, and the editor of 'The Tanka Journal' [Japan]
where it first appeared in Volume #30 2007 p. 31
Book Review: “empty garden”-tanka by Beverley George
“empty garden” is the first collection of tanka by Beverley George of Australia. She is already well-known as the editor of ‘Yellow Moon’, a magazine for haiku, renga, tanka and poems. Recently she launched the initial issue of ‘Eucalypt’, a Tanka Journal, which tells her enthusiasm for tanka.
This book contains more than sixty tanka and five tanka sequences. The theme throughout is related to her life long love. Her method of composition is quite traditional from the viewpoint that she describes her emotion associated with a concrete image. This shows her deep sympathy with Japanese literature, especially in the field of traditional waka as well as present tanka.
Not only is her tanka style traditional, her tanka creates the atmosphere of love in the Heian era, which goes back more than a thousand years in Japanese history. Of course, she is an intelligent women living in the twenty-first century. And therefore, it is needless to say that her relationship with her love is quite different from that of the Heian era. She is marvelous in holding her identity firmly in Heian-like style as is expressed in this tanka
combing through seaweedHer description in the last three lines follows the Heian literary tradition, in which long hair was thought to be the primary symbol of feminine beauty. At the same time in the first two lines, she is seeking ‘an unbroken shell.’ She realizes everything in this world is transient, fragile, uncertain and absurd. All the more for this realization, rather unconsciously, she seeks a certain touch, or a solid sense. ‘An unbroken shell’ is one of the concrete images of this longing. There are other examples:
for an unbroken shell–
once my long hair
spilling over us
shut out the fire’s light
slowly I return
an occupied shell
to the surging sea
widening each day
the winter river rushes
over hidden rocks
if you asked me to return
I could no longer cross it
of your words surprised me
though you hold me close
should I be aware of rocks
just below the melting snow
As these three tanka show, ‘occupied shell’ is described in contrast to ‘surging sea’, ‘hidden rocks’ to ‘winter river rushes’, ‘rocks’ to ‘below the melting snow’. The solid existence of ‘shell’ and ‘rocks’ are expressed as the counterpoint of ‘surging water’, which symbolizes her unease, fretfulness, fear of fragility. The ‘shell’, ‘rocks’, ‘conches’ are symbols of her inner longing for constancy. The frustration between these two opposite elements is the landscape of her inner life.
As another characteristic of her tanka, I would like to draw the readers’ attention to her exquisite sensual expressions, which also suggests inheritance from Heian literature.
She gazed at love, she was injured by love. She experienced love not only through ideas but also physically. Through strife, she acquired the true strength of a woman. I would like to extend the tanka which shows this process.
losing your love
I learn the strength
a she-oak whipped by wind
thrusts deeper roots
‘empty garden’ embedded at the end of this book is an excellent tanka sequence revealing the pinnacle of this collection. The spontaneous flow of lyrical sentiment in this sequence, I’m sure, promises her further attainment to the next level.
Copies are available by ordering from B M George PO Box 37 Pearl Beach 2256 Australia. Cheques/money orders must be in Australian dollars payable to 'Beverley George'. Cost includes postage and handling: Within Australia–$15, New Zealand, Japan–AUD$17.50, UK, US, Canada, Europe–AUD$19
Aya Yuhki is a bilingual Japanese poet whose poetry flows gently, but exploratively, between traditional and contemporary concepts. Her most recent book All I can do, addresses, by example, the quandary of poets who must decide the most appropriate genre for all they wish to express.It demonstrates the synergy between tanka and free verse.