Eucalypt      Reviews

Review of Eucalypt 14 by Claire Everett (UK) in Skylark 1:2 Winter 2013 pp. 120-126   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 13 by André Surridge (NZ) in Kokako 18, 2013 pp.51-53   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 12 by David Terelinck in Blithe Spirit 23 (1), 2013 pp.59-63   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 10 by Owen Bullock (NZ) in Kokako 15, 2011 pp.60-61   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 9 by Patricia Prime (NZ) in Haiku NewZ, the New Zealand Poetry Society web-site, February 2011.   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 8 by Maria Steyn (South Africa) in Five Bells 17 (4) Spring 2010 pp. 164-166   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 8 by Patricia Prime (NZ) in a fine line: the Magazine of the New Zealand Poetry Society November 2010 pp. 12-13   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 7 by Patricia Prime (NZ) in Another Lost Shark [temporarily hosting for Stylus].   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 6 by by Annette Mineo (USA) in five bells: Australian poetry vol. 17 Nos 1&2 2010 pp. 165-168.   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 6 by Matthew Paul (United Kingdom) in Presence #40 pp. 42-43.

Review of Eucalypt 6 by Owen Bullock (New Zealand) in Takahe 68, 2009   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 6 by Tony Beyer (New Zealand) in Kokako 10 April 2009 pp. 49-51   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 5 by Kathy Kituai in Five Bells 16 (2&3) Autumn/Winter 2009 pp. 144-46   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 5 by Larry Kimmel (USA) in Ribbons 5 (1) Spring 2009 pp. 40-42   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 5 by Maria Steyn (South Africa) in Modern English Tanka MET vol 3 no 3 Spring 2009 pp. 227-231

Review of Eucalypt 5 by Patricia Prime in Stylus January 2009

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Jenny Barnard, published in five bells 15 (3) 2008 pp. 56-57

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Kirsty Karkow, published in Kokako 9 2008 pp. 50-52 [NZ]

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Tom Clausen, published in Ribbons 4 (2) Summer 2008 pp. 47-49

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Cathy Drinkwater Better published in Modern English Tanka 2 (4) Summer 2008 pp. 242-244

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Carole MacRury in Famous Reporter #37 2008 pp. 146-47.   Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 4 by Patricia Prime in Stylus July 2008

Review of Eucalypt 3 by Lynne Rees in Blithe Spirit 18 (2) 2008 pp 52-55

Review of Eucalypt 3 by Margaret Bradstock [Australia] in Mascara issue 4. Read a copy here

Review of Eucalypt 3 by Julie Thorndyke in five bells 15 (1) Summer 2008. Read a copy here

Book Note in five bells: Australian Poetry 14 (2) autumn 2007

Book Note by Martin Lucas in Presence No. 32, 2007

Review by Thelma Mariano in Ribbons  3 (3) Autumn 2007.   Read a copy here

Review by Linda Jeannette Ward in Gusts; 6 Fall/Winter 2007.   Read a copy here

Review by Jan Dean in five bells: Australian Poetry 14 (2) autumn 2007.   Read a copy here

Review by Kirsty Karkow in Stylus Poetry Journal No 25, April 2007.

Review by Doreen King in New Hope International Review

Book Note by Michael McClintock in Modern English Tanka Volume 1, Number 3. Spring 2007.

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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…

a wave-rolled
posidonia ball . . .
I wade
the shoreline
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:

classical dancer
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…

childhood lovers
chew raw sugarcane
discard dry fibres —
recalling that sweetness
I stir my tea slowly
          — Ellen Weston

the clean doona cover
is fitted
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.

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Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal
Edited by Beverley George (
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.

the sounds
of a cat grooming itself
in Tunisia
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
at table
and even this silence

Sanford Goldstein, Japan

"thinking of SG"

you speak often
of spilling five lines down
I imagine
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

time wasted
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

wind-beaten ferns
against the rocks
the dry whispers
of night nurses
withdrawing care
Terra Martin (p.14)

and the beautifully oblique meditation on mortality

your strong stride
carries you further away
my sadness
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
I walk
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
I’m glad
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.

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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.
First Poem

all at once
I crave newspaper, kindling
a lighted match –
such strange intuition
knowing when to move on

Gillian Telford
  Last Poem

the shelducks’ prints
flatten into mud. . .
everyone I love
leaves traces

John Barlow
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.
late summer
in the garden
just before dusk
touching plants, leaves, flowers
as I never touched you

Margaret Chula
  a robin's
shiny black head
in the rain
on the stereo

M. Kei
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.

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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.

Thelma Mariano

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.


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Eucalypt: a tanka journal. Issue 5, 2008. Edited by Beverley George.

Reviewed by Larry Kimmel

What a treat to the eye! What a delight to the hand! Eucalypt is a beautifully produced magazine. Previous reviewers have noted its “cool green,” semi-gloss cover with a “muted” photo of eucalyptus leaves; its pure white, “silky” pages; its clean Optima font; and its satisfying layout, using two to three tanka, sometimes four, per page, staggered to give each tanka its due prominence — all qualities and features to be found in issue 5.

There are illustrations in among the poems, as well. Drawings by Pim Sarti and by guest artists, Lynne Ellis, Carl Ripphausen and Kathryn Harrison, provide additional appeal with text-related visuals in this 5th issue.

Bring to this the elegant design and layout talents of Matthew George along with the proven editorial skills of Beverley George, and we find a high quality journal of today’s finest English-language tanka, in a format that enhances the readers enjoyment.

Eucalypt is an international journal of tanka in English. It uses no more than two poems per poet in any given issue. In issue 5 there are 82 poets from 8 countries — Australia, USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and China, making 122 poems to be found in its 44 numbered pages. There are no articles or reviews in this issue — only tanka.

Beverley George has been a prime mover of tanka and other short form poetry in Australia beginning with her editorship of Yellow Moon, 2000 - 2006. In 2007, she turned her focus to Eucalypt, an all-tanka journal. George is Eucalypt and Eucalypt is George, though, no doubt, Ms. George would say that Eucalypt is about the poets represented between its covers. Still, it is her selections and sequencing that make Eucalypt the superior journal it is. Of the many new outlets available to the tanka-poet, Eucalypt is certainly one of the first journals any tanka-poet would aspire to appear in.

One of the wonderful aspects of the western tanka community is that the novice is allowed to appear side by side with the seasoned and internationally renowned tanka-poets. We find this tradition in strong evidence in all the issues of Eucalypt. There is, also, a strong showing of tanka artists from the Pacific countries and from the southern hemisphere in Eucalypt issue 5, which is good to find, since so many tanka journals are centered around the North American and British communities.

Out of this diversity of new and familiar voices, George creates a flowing colloquy, bringing together similar themes, so that the time honored pageantry of human experience is brought into denser focus. Conversely, the leaps in themes between these clusters can, also, serve to heighten our awareness.

Some favorites from Eucalypt, a tanka journal, issue 5 are:

night wind
through the pine forest . . .
in her sleep
she stretches her limbs,
rolls away from me
                                    Max Ryan

a large man
holds a 26-piece BBQ set
waiting for the train
on my long journey
to reach you by christmas
                                    Jane Gibian

weeks after her death
lamplight on the night stand
and her rosary
this silence that invites me
to take up her prayers
                                    Dorothy McLaughlin

through translucent nails
after the lesson
still feeling the music
in my fingertips
                                    Cathy Drinkwater Better

the gurgling
of Minnehaha Creek
in the shade
an old Schwinn bike
propped against an elm
                                    Bob Lucky

dust storm —
this longing to hear
the rainbird
call from a sweet thorn’s
budding branches
                                    Maria Steyn

I offer her
the gold-rimmed plate
with chocolates
instead of words
unable to say ‘chemo’ . . .
                                    Linda Galloway

Fermanagh rain . . .
the bog cannot crust
and the loch
has lost its edge
my mood darker than the stout
                                    Jon Baldwin

a closet awareness
as if my retreating life’s
in bare corners
a moth-eaten white sweater
is on a blue hanger
                                    Sanford Goldstein

the sound
of splashing in the tub!
the longing
to rush in and soap
your floating breasts and toes
                                    Kirsty Karkow

I ignore all but one
four-dollar coat
rich with night-velvet
embossed with possibility
                                    Kathy Kituai

Among the many recent tanka venues, Eucalypt promises to be one of the more enduring. Beverley George has created a winner.

This Review was first published in in Ribbons 5 (1) Spring 2009 pp. 40-42.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Larry Kimmel,
the reviewer, and of Dave Bacharach, the editor of Ribbons.
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Eucalypt: a tanka journal. Issue 5, 2008. Edited by Beverley George.

Reviewed by Kathy Kituai

When it’s hard enough to be published as a poet in Australia, why write tanka, a Japanese five-line, lyrical form of poetry originating 1300 years ago that is still relatively unknown here? I’m sure many poets exploring this form have asked themselves this question. The consistently high standard of tanka since the first issue of Eucalypt in 2007 (and issue 5 is no exception) is answer enough to why many poets persist with this particular form. Just knowing that there is at least one Australian magazine concentrating entirely on tanka, is encouragement for those of us who write it.

But why publish such an ancient form of poetry? In the hands of experienced tankaists, of which there are many in Eucalypt, look how effortlessly tanka travels through time and thrusts us into the present moment.

sunlight soap
bleach and washing soda
her boiled linen
between sagging props
as he walks south for work

Poet, Julie Thorndyke, speaks of hard times in her tanka. We are thrust back into the Depression during the 30s, and given the economical downturn of our times, she could just as well have been writing about the present day. How apt then is her poem. It will come as no surprise to me if sunlight soap and washing soda is used instead of soap powder once again.

And it’s not only the use of present tense that creates this timelessness (most tanka is written this way). Indirectly and succinctly Thorndyke leaves us in no uncertain understanding of what’s happening, whether it be all those years ago or today. We know how the woman who hung her washing on the line feels. This simple description makes this clear; ‘her boiled linen/between sagging props’. Follow this line with: ‘as he walks south for work’, match it with the present shortage of jobs, and the reality of this last line could also be relevant in the near future.

We can time travel in many ways in tanka. A familiar swishing noise, and Kirsty Karkow plunges us back into the past.

the sound
of splashing in the tub!
the longing
to rush in and soap
your floating breasts and toes

And what a sensual place in which to arrive; a place where desire was once fulfilled. We are fully present with the poet’s longing in a matter twenty-two syllables. Nothing more needs to be said.

Given that tanka is a lyrical form, it would be quite mistaken to presume, therefore, contrasting external images must arise from nature. Tanka in this issue of Eucalypt clearly show this is not always the case.

deleting spam
I begin to wonder
which I might be …
no friends, no mortgage, no hair
short in every way
                  Bob Lucky
  a closet awareness
as if my retreating life's
in bare corners
a moth-eaten white sweater
is on a blue hanger
                  Sanford Goldstein

Where Lucky is engaged in a modern-day activity like the up-date of his email site, Goldstein reflects on the mythological bare corners in his life. Both reveal their innermost feelings through what is observed externally.

What is of interest in the following tanka by John Barlow is that fact that he cites two seemingly unrelated images, one of corpse of a hare the other the state of the moon.

in a box
on the back seat, the hare
with a broken back …
a moon a sliver short of full
slips through the night

Yet we are in no doubt as to the emotional state the poet wishes to instil within us, not only because of the way in which Barlow describes both, but the clever way in which he parallels two images without explanation. An experienced and widely published poet, Barlow trusts his reader to make the leap between the two.

You do not need to be a tankaist to enjoy the poetry published in Eucalypt. There is much for poets to learn from as succinct and subtle form as tanka, and I recommend it’s reading whether you are a free verse poet or just a lover of poetry. Too often I am bored by poetry with long descriptions that serves only to draw attention to the poet and not enough to the essence and meaning within a poem itself. Not so with any of the poems in Issue 5 of Eucalypt.

Although widely published as a tankaist, both here in Australia and internationally, the founder and editor of Eucalypt, Beverley George, never publishes her own work in Eucalypt; a position to be noted. When she edits and produces Eucalypt, she focuses as its editor and publisher. Could this be another reason why the quality of tanka appearing in Issue 5 of Eucalypt is of the high standard we have come to expect from this magazine?

If I had any whinge at all to make about Eucalypt, it would come in the form of a wish. I would love to be able to purchase it from my nearest newsagent. Eucalypt deserves a wide audience.


This Review was first published in Five Bells 16 (2&3) Autumn/Winter 2009 pp. 144-46. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Kathy Kituai, the reviewer, and of the editor of Five Bells.

Poet, Diarist and Creative Writing facilitator, Kathy Kituai’s latest publications are Straggling into Winter (07), In Two Minds (08) and The Heart Takes Wing (08) CD.


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Review of Eucalypt 6 by Tony Beyer (New Zealand).

         After several recent conversations about the popularity of baseball haiku in Japan and America, compared with relatively few haiku about cricket by other Anglophone poets, I was delighted to find a cricket tanka by Tessa Woolridge on the first page of Eucalypt 6, with an illustration by Pim Sarti. If the difference between the two games is a matter of duration, the same might be said of instantaneous haiku and more reflective tanka. Cricket is a summer game, but traditional rivalries between hemispheres have resulted in its season becoming continuous.
         In many poems in this issue, the core observation, similar to a haiku, is given extension, context and meaning by the further two lines. This formal pattern recalls the exchanges of image and response in classical Japanese renga. The longer tanka form has room for stated emotion, summary, and the key element of the passage of time.
         The very contemporary topic of parents’ ageing gives an example of this sort of perspective for Elaine Riddell:
dementia . . .
affection is not among
the responses you have lost
your gift today an acorn
offered on a curving twig
The poet in this case does not have to mention a lifetime’s gift-giving between (I assume) mother and daughter, or her awareness of the role reversals brought about by age.
         André Surridge opens up a culturally specific historical view:
from the beach
at Anzac Cove
a stone
the colour
of your battledress.
His tanka represents the capacity for acclimatisation and flexibility that are main attractions of the genre. The situation is made subtly particular by the use of a pronoun.
         Another approach, by Tess Driver, makes its impact through the reversal of our expectations:
worn braces
hold up trousers
browned with blood –
stroking softly
he holds the newborn calf
As so often, the power of this poem derives from the very careful choice of detail and colour: brown, not red.
         As with earlier issues, the strength of Eucalypt is in its commitment to a wide range of authors, both established and experimenting. Similar subjects are explored from a range of angles. Excellence is the guideline and, in many examples, a spirited intention. While several magazines in our region are devoted to Japanese-derived forms, Eucalypt, with its clearly defined focus on tanka and the encouragement this entails, is to be celebrated.


This Review was first published in in Kokako 10 April 2009 pp. 49-51.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Tony Beyer, the reviewer, and of the editors of Kokako .


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Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 6, 2009)
Edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Owen Bullock

Eucalypt is one of the few journals which specialise entirely in tanka and the only one in this part of the world. Tanka is the poetic form from which haiku developed in the late Middle Ages. Tanka are usually written over five lines, and, though more lyrical and expansive than haiku, make a similar attempt to say as much as possible with few words. This ancient form continues to find new expression, and Eucalypt has gone from the strength to strength with a worldwide contributor base that includes such tanka luminaries as John Barlow, Linda Jeanette Ward and Sanford Goldstein. New Zealanders are well-represented – seven in this issue - and with 33 of the 76 contributors from Australia, this makes up a nice balance of local and international voices.

Elaine Riddell, a New Zealand poet comparatively new to tanka, has published some strong pieces in previous issues. This trend continues with the following:

three years dead
‘go easy on the eath’
the message
on his letterbox
still speaks to the world

She presents a simple fact and the interpretation that the message still speaks is also fact enough for me.

     Editor Beverley George groups tanka by theme, but not so strictly that this limits the poems.
Two tanka by Jo McInerney describe the aftermath of the January bushfires. They are both moving and well-crafted. Here’s one of the two:

caramelised apples
hang from black boughs
a child rocks
on a metal swing
in the ash yard

I’ve noted McInerney’s work in other journals (such as Modern English Tanka) for its wistful, compassionate voice.

     Financial stress is another featured topic. Peggy Heinrich writes:

I learn that
half my nest egg is gone . . .
the calming effect
of a hummingbird
at the feeder

Such a sighting might help us all. Nature continues unabated, despite our woes, but, instead of a sense of distance between us and other creatures, there’s comfort and renewal. Bob Lucky offers a humorous twist on the same theme:

a market surge
today I am less poor
on paper
I finagle my budget
to squeeze in a muffin

     The word ‘finagle’ is a delight and the detail of the muffin somehow quaint in its appeal.
     War is ever at someone’s door. Maria Steyn’s elegant phrasing brings home a certain reality. The ‘pale blue fear’ of a soldier’s eyes is surreal, even synaesthetic, but uniquely conveys something too often omitted from stories of war - I’m also led to ponder the fear that led to the conflict in the first place.
     Like its content, the force of this tanka by Cathy Drinkwater Better creeps up on the reader:

deep winter . ..
in the dim elevator
blindsided by an old song
I never thought
would make me cry

The word ‘blindsided’ gives us an echo of some kind of battle. She might be safe from strong emotion in as innocuous a place as the lift! But, no, it seeks her out through a song that has some meaningful connection and sadness takes over. ML Grace contributes a similarly fragile lyric; Pamela Babusci likens herself in love to a wounded soldier.
     Poems of great delicacy fill these pages, such Melissa Dixon’s ‘pity me not’, Rodney Williams’ ‘mother lapsing’ and Sanford Goldstein’s ‘again’; alongside some forthright vollies, such as John Martell’s ‘the window closed’ and Alan Spring’s:

we laugh a little
like old times
then the tubes
carrying blood and urine
and the faint smell of decay

which, though in some ways unpalatable, tells the truth about the end of life - and there is even a little laughter.

     A subscription to Eucalypt is a must for anyone who enjoys, or wishes to write, tanka.


This Review was first published in in Takahe 68, 2009
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Owen Bullock, the reviewer, and of the editors of Takahe.


Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 6, 2009)
Edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Annette Mineo

It is always with sheer delight that I open my mailbox to find the latest issue of Eucalypt, and issue 6 is no exception! Beverley George has once again produced another squeaky clean journal of tanka, per usual, by adhering to her high standard and accepting only the best of what is submitted.

I love the way that George opens every issue with a single poem alone on the first page; it is always a carefully chosen poem that doesn’t necessarily seem to represent any particular theme for the collection, but often sets a mood that the reader may ride like a kite tail to the end. This issue opens with a delightful fun-filled summer poem, full of lovely imagery and a surprise punch in the last line:
a red cherry
on a summer’s day
plump and round
sweet in the centre
of the cricketer’s bat
                    – Tessa Wooldridge

Delivered to my door in July, the mood of summer comes through loud and clear in this poem with the image of the sweet “red cherry”; life being abundant, “plump and round”; and that sweet sound of the bat hitting the ball. Doesn’t it just make you feel that anything is possible?

There are 117 poems in all, by 76 poets from all corners of the world with barely a theme that isn’t covered from the usual subjects like nature, loss and relationships to these current issues: an unstable economy, the affects of war and even the recent Australian brushfires. The poems have been masterfully arranged on the pages so that the themes effortlessly flow together, weaving and overlapping with one another to produce a tapestry of human experiences.

Here’s a favorite nature poem of mine by John Barlow:
a sky full
of dusky blues . . .
one by one
the egrets
return to their roost
                    – John Barlow

And a particularly poignant poem on transience:
our white courtyard walls
with shifting leaf shadows—
no constancy in this world
                    – Amelia Fielden

And where would we be without Bob Lucky and his marvelous sense of humor to get us through these tough financial times:
a market surge
today I am less poor
on paper
I finagle my budget
to squeeze in a muffin
                    – Bob Lucky

Then this glimpse of war’s ugliness contrasted with the beautiful:
a white heron
flying into summer . . .
from the bombed-out street
a soldier looks up to the hills
of his childhood village
                    – Max Ryan

Following several poems of despair, we find this flawless poem on love and salvation:
rain drums
on the tin roof
we fall asleep
silent birds clinging
to wind tossed branches
                    – Lynette Arden

There are several poems that comment on aging and memory, like this one:
mending the fence
he forgets where the latch fits
she remembers
swinging on a moonlit gate
his hand firm on her back
                    – Kathy Kituai

Followed by this touching poem of a new baby:
I wore my grandson
like a starfish on my shoulder
his heartbeat
transmitting trust
his fingers softly curled
                    – Gail Hennessy

Finally, I would be amiss if I didn’t comment on the lovely black and white drawings throughout the issue. These drawings by Pim Sarti and Kathryn Harrison really complement the poems without creating a distraction.

In closing, I leave you with this John Barlow poem:
the sea asters fade
into the night . . .
that can be done
is done
                    – John Barlow

And it’s done so well; issue 6 of Eucalypt will not disappoint. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from this fine Australian journal: thoughtful, finely-crafted and polished tanka mindfully arranged on the page to create what is surely one of the best publications in tanka today.

This Review was first published in five bells: Australian poetry vol. 17 Nos 1&2 2010 pp. 165-168.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Annette Mineo (USA), the reviewer, and of the editor of Five Bells.

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Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 7, 2010)
Edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Patricia Prime

The tanka in Eucalypt 7 are of the usual high standard. The collection delivers 118 tanka in a variety of styles from poets around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Ghana, Japan, China, England and South Africa. These thirty-eight pages of tanka, one to four per page, pulse with passion. No dry work here, sensuous and sensual experiences either grab our attention or lead us gently by the hand.

Different images are presented to the reader: Max Ryan’s workman taking his lunch on the beach; Joseph Kleponis’ wondering whether there is meaning in an “abandoned bird’s nest”; Kozue Uzawa’s jet lag. There are quirky images – Owen Bullock’s children fussing about eating onions; David Terelinck recalling childhood days when he was “always third” in the bath; Carmel Summers’ “dream of a prince’s kiss.”

Here’s a pacy, perceptive tanka by Elaine Riddell:
you moved in
as one family –
two removal trucks
separate your belongings

Most immediately affecting are the following tanka:
as a child
I wanted to touch the sky
never dreaming
that to touch another’s heart
would be the greater challenge
           Irene Golas

darkened streets
of what I might see
through broken blinds
           Bob Lucky

her bald head
sprouting soft new hair
has she been remade?
exotic crystal ear-rings
swirling silken scarves
           Paula Stevenson

Some tanka can be situationally funny yet still touching, as seen in these tanka:
most days
I believe in God
other days
I’m certain he’s this tiny man
behind the curtain
           Kathy Lippard Cobb

after five days,
bagpipes and haggis aplenty,
I’m going to flee
old Scotland, the same as
my bandit fathers before me
           Michael McClintock

Many of the tanka give us personal moments that are easily recognizable as classic tanka:
across the pond
sunset explodes in bronze
and green fir spires –
we stand hands together
free from the weight of words
           John Martell

on this autumn night
of deep apple scented sleep
no troubled dreams
of lilac and lavender
can invade this moment’s peace
           Joseph Kleponis

Appreciating the simple is one of tanka’s delights and the tanka that appears in this journal typify Western thoughts. There is much to recommend Eucalypt as it presents the writers’ viewpoints with sensitivity. The tanka here help form a growing body of work, especially among Southern Hemisphere poets and one can only admire Beverley George’s commitment to the form and her ongoing support of tanka poets. Here one finds poems that are sincere, observant and sometimes enlightening.

The volume is attractively presented with design and layout by Matthew George, illustrations by Pim Sarti and cover photograph by Beverley George.

Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 3, October 2008)
Edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Margaret Bradstock for Mascara Literary Review Issue Four - October 2008

Eucalypt: A Tanka journal, Issue 3, 2007
Beverley George (Ed.)

PO Box 37 Pearl Beach 2256
ISSN 1833-8186
RRP: $30 for two issues p.a

I was impressed by the inaugural issue of Eucalypt, appearing in 2006 and positively reviewed by Jan Dean in Five Bells (vol.14, no.2, p.38). Eucalypt, the first literary journal in Australia dedicated to tanka, published bi-annually, has gone from strength to strength. According to Amelia Fielden:
Tanka, meaning 'short song', is the modern name for waka, 'Japanese song', the traditional form of lyric poetry which has been composed in Japan for over thirteen hundred years. It is an unrhymed verse form of thirty-one syllables or sound-units. There are no poetic stress accents in Japanese, so traditional poetry is given rhythm by writing to a pattern of 5/7/5/7/7 sound-unit phrases, with varying breath pauses being made when read aloud. (On This Same Star, 5)

Waka remained virtually unchanged from its inception during the Heian period through to the end of the nineteenth century, by which time it had fallen subject to stereotypical imagery and a lack of originality. Beverley George tells us:
In the late nineteenth century, several distinguished poets questioned the lack of originality and adherence to outmoded diction in the waka that were being written. To indicate their desire for reform, they renamed it tanka meaning short song or poem. The broader interpretation encouraged adoption of this genre by an expanded audience outside Japan. (10)

Tanka, then, is modern and modernised waka. Makoto Ueda’s introduction to Modern Japanese Tanka provides valuable insights into tanka reform in the twentieth century.

In English, the requisite format is more flexible still, as Fielden’s preface to her own recent collection makes clear:
In English, tanka are conventionally written in five lines to parallel the short/ long/ short/ long/ long components of Japanese tanka. Few contemporary non-Japanese tankaists adhere strictly to the original thirty-one syllable count, however. It is now generally agreed that English lyrics of around twenty-one syllables in a 3/5/3/5/5, or looser, pattern most closely echo the essential concision and lightness of Japanese tanka. This has been called the '21 +/- theory'; it is a theory which I endorse, and my poems can usually be counted out in twenty to twenty-six syllables. More important than a specific number of syllables is the internal rhythm of tanka, the impact they make on the ears as well as the mind. And in content, contemporary tanka are unrestricted…. multiple poems – any number between two and a hundred or more – on a similar or related theme, can be grouped under a common title. This is then designated a 'tanka sequence'. (5)

In order to contain the poetic moment within a set number of syllables, Japanese tanka rely greatly on the power of suggestion. Fielden apprises us that “a certain haziness is an intrinsic, indeed admired, characteristic of the form.”( On This Same Star, 11). The same distillation is apparent in contemporary tanka, which may sometimes seem, as a consequence, fragmentary or ambiguous. However, what is unsaid carries as much weight as the words that appear on the page. Individual tanka are not given titles, and must therefore convey meaning(s) as effectively as possible through an evocative situation.

Issue 3 of Eucalypt is arranged thematically, with topics ranging from the spiritual through family, health, celebrations of life, love and betrayal, to mention just a few. Some 'sections' (which segue into each other) are uniformly sad, others joyous or humorous.

The keynote poem sets the tone, matching inner and outer landscapes:
a photo
ghost gums near Kata-juta
the dry heart
too full of memories
to go back alone
                                            Michael Thorley (Australia)

Barbara Fisher’s delightful closing piece, reminiscent of W.H Auden’s “Thank You, Fog” (written on an afternoon too foggy to take a walk), is rife with innuendo:
lying in bed
this rainy morning
I'm glad
a walk is utterly
out of the question
                                            Barbara Fisher (Australia)

To my mind the wittiest of these poems, playing with the spirit of tanka without overturning it, is the following:
thirty years later
the pale blue petals
pressed in my journal
what was that flower
– and who was that man

                                            Margaret Chula (USA)
Likewise, a note of humour creeps into a christening ceremony:
water phobia –
the preacher pushes
her head under
bubbles floating upwards
she's saved but terrified
                                            Barbara A. Taylor (Australia)
Other tanka that struck a chord, situation evoking memory and emotion, are:
Christmas time
I remember the little
ice skaters
on a mirror pond –
arranged mother's way
                                            an'ya (USA)
another summer gone
not knowing
if I should eat
or store away
the sunflower seeds
                                            Stanford M. Forrester (USA)
how small
I really am
here between
potato field
and the wide sky
                                            Mariko Kitakubo (Japan)
spiral overhead
in tandem
on an updraft of our own
we brush outstretched wings
                                            Rodney Williams (Australia)
a distant roar
of lions from the plains
father's steady voice
telling childhood stories
by the fire's warmth
                                            Maria Steyn (South Africa)

As may be noted, submissions have been accepted on an international basis, and each reflects the writer’s own country. In the January 2008 issue of Stylus Poetry [], Janice Bostok, a pioneer of haiku and tanka in Australia, has said: “The poets of each country, while embracing Japanese forms, need to internalise their cultural origins and hope that they will become distinctive of their own country,” and this is the hallmark of tanka published in Eucalypt. Many of them exploit their own idiom, picking up on colloquial expressions, and all celebrate their native imagery and seasons. Perhaps that’s why my eye has fallen upon so many from Australia.

In an earlier article, “Tanka: ‘the myriad leaves of words’” (11), Beverley George elaborates further:
A convincing argument for the adoption of tanka into foreign utterances lies in this form's versatility. A tanka poem can capture the essence of human emotion and it can also be demonstratively used as a form of diary writing to chart the more pedestrian aspects of our lives, as well significant events. (p.11)

In Eucalypt # 3, George is to be congratulated on another fine and representative selection.


Amelia Fielden, Foreword to Still Swimming, ACT: Ginninderra Press, 2005:.5.

Beverley George, “Tanka: ‘the myriad leaves of words’ ”, Five Bells, vol.13, no.1 (2006): 10.

Introduction to On This Same Star by Mariko Kitakubo (transl. Amelia Fielden), Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2006: 11.

Modern Japanese Tanka: An Anthology, edited and translated by Makoto Ueda. NY: Columbia UP(1996):

This Review was first published in Mascara Literary Review Issue Four - October 2008.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Margaret Bradstock, the reviewer, and of the editor of Mascara.

Eucalypt 8, edited by Beverley George.   PO Box 37, Pearl Beach 2256, NSW, Australia. 2010.   44 pp.

Reviewed by Patricia Prime

The appearance of a new issue of Eucalypt is a significant and much appreciated event. This latest selection is of particular interest because it spans so many tanka from poets around the world: Australia, India, U.S.A., England, New Zealand, Bhutan, Japan, Canada, China, France, South Africa and Croatia. The following tanka from Croatia is by Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic:
under the snow
our magnolia tree,
budding shyly
my granddaughter listens
to footsteps of passers-by

These tanka are by turns humorous, witty, truthful, and tough enough, asserting an undeflectable honesty and a sharpness of perception. Even a prison cell allows a tanka moment as we see in the following poem by Gavin Austin:
lying awake
on a prison bed
in his steel world
mother has not sung
for seven years
Here we are made aware of the prisoner’s hard bed and his mother’s melancholy at the loss of her son’s freedom.

Jo McInerney’s tanka
my finger traces
the lines of your laughter . . .
one day
you will not wake
to smile at me again
has a delicacy, a harmony, that seeks to transcend the act of memory of loss which is its subject.

Many of the tanka beguile us into the worlds of the poets, observing familiar landscapes and feelings with fresh eyes and well-chosen words. Many of us will have experienced the loss of a loved one and in Michael McClintock’s fine poem on the loss of his brother he finally releases his brother’s ashes into a landscape that perhaps both of them knew:
the day has come
to take my brother’s ashes
into the woods –
I know of a waterfall
there, sweet and clear

Tessa Wooldridge’s tanka
lap swimming
on a summer day
beneath my hands
lane markings dissolve
into Rorschach inkblots
gives the simple act of swimming a new meaning with its surprising image of the inkblot. The poem is well made, thoughtful and original.

The gentle filmic precision of Margaret Ruckert’s tanka
rented Bondi flat
voices echo from bare floors
a migrant mother
filled with sun, asks her child
why don’t you bring home a friend?
beautifully captures the soft tones of the migrant mother questioning her child about friendship.

Two pages on the theme of war reinforce our dread of the woeful acts of humans against each other. Linda Galloway, Andre Surridge, Dorothy McLaughlin, Shona Bridge and Aubrie Cox write well in the tradition of war poetry with fluent, skilful tanka.

The striking and original characteristics of nature tanka are exemplified in the work of David Terelinck, Elaine Riddell, Barbara Fisher and Giselle Maya. While Rodney A Williams gives us an insight into the system of connection with his humorous tanka
on the desert track
a mirage
her smile radiant
for the man behind me

Eucalypt 8 is not only a salute to the wonderful world of tanka, but a collection of international material, providing the reader with a significant body of worthwhile poetry.

These thoughtful poems, often flecked with subtlety and humour, repay many readings

This Review was first published in a fine line: the Magazine of the New Zealand Poetry Society November 2010 pp. 12-13.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Patricia Prime, the reviewer, and of the editor of a fine line.

Eucalypt 8, edited by Beverley George.   PO Box 37, Pearl Beach 2256, NSW, Australia. 2010.

Reviewed by Maria Steyn

The joy of reviewing a fine tanka journal such as Eucalypt lies in immersing oneself once again in the excellent selection of tanka, revisiting Pim Sarti’s artwork and re-experiencing the pleasure of leafing through the silky pages. With four highly successful years of publishing Eucalypt biannually, Beverley George, an international award winning tanka and haiku poet, has firmly established herself as editor of one of the best journals in the global tanka community. In this issue she was assisted by tanka poet Julie Thorndyke as co-editor. Tanka from 84 poets representative of 12 countries fill the pages of Eucalypt 8. The professional layout and design by Matthew George are spacious with a balanced interplay between text, illustration and white space.

As in previous issues the tanka poems eloquently address many facets of our commonly shared humanity. A variety of themes are touched upon and readers find themselves lingering among poems about landscape, nature, war, love, relationships, loneliness, technology, modern life and humour to name but a few.

The tanka about landscape and history first caught my attention. Tessa Wooldridge and ML Grace approach these themes from different and interesting perspectives. The novel imagery and beautiful cadence of Wooldridge’s tanka sing through our minds long after the poem has been read. Readers will be familiar with stoic pioneer family portraits similar to those mentioned by ML Grace, keepsakes from an era that left no room for the faint-hearted.

from Ivanhoe
to the Menindee lakes
fence, train track, fence
a stave in parallel harmony
singing across the land
          Tessa Wooldridge
  in the silver frame
my ancestors, stiff faced
straight backed . . .
no hint of drought and floods
or three young faces missing
          ML Grace

This led me to Margaret Ruckert’s ‘rented Bondi flat’ dealing with displacement. Instead of being ‘filled with food’, the migrant mother is filled only with the light of hope for her family. A friend for her child would serve as a gateway toward acceptance in this as yet alien community, and we are subtly aware that the child, like the family, might also feel separated and estranged.

rented Bondi flat
voices echo from bare floors
a migrant mother
filled with sun, asks her child
why don’t you bring home a friend?
                        Margaret Ruckert

Love and relationship are difficult topics to execute successfully but accomplished with a lightness of skill and delicacy in ‘his touch’ by Natalia L. Rudychev.

his touch
was so light
the sky in me has opened
to free
the endless April rain
                        Natalia L. Rudychev

Barbara Curnow adds a refreshing dimension. The last two lines of her tanka take the reader by surprise with an alluring element of humour that cuts deeper than the surface. John Martell explores the inner landscapes of two people in a minimum of words, yet speaking volumes.

the longer
that no-one shares his bed
the more
he notices women
with beautiful minds
          Barbara Curnow
  in her eyes
he saw it was time
to leave
the polite emptiness
of wasted hours
          John Martell

Poems about love invariably overlap those dealing with relationship, be it among friends or family members. Patricia Prime touches upon the essence of this in her poem:

like a blade of grass
in a dense pasture
I’m entwined
in the tendrils of other lives
my roots tangled with theirs
                      Patricia Prime

War is an ever-present threat to many. Kirsty Karkow and Linda Galloway bring this to life in two poignant tanka.

can match this feeling
the child who went to war
sleeps in his old bed
          Kirsty Karkow
  I used
to believe there were
good wars
then I touched
the wounds of a dying God
          Linda Galloway

Carole MacRury’s exuberant and celebratory nature poem with its vivid colour contrast is a joy to the senses. The more subdued, sensitive poem by Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic expresses the physical awakening of a young girl in simple, yet gently meaningful images.

this moment
between heaven and earth
in full bloom
our red camellia bush
and the white wolf moon
          Carole MacRury
  under the snow
our magnolia tree,
budding shyly
my granddaughter listens
to footsteps of passers-by
          Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic

Sanford Goldstein’s self-deprecating and wryly humorous tanka about aging will touch many readers, as will the vivid imagery in Linda Jeannette Ward’s poem about late-middle age.

gift in hand
I proceed to dinner
the invited gaijin
this me who talks to bare walls
who sits and smiles gat-toothed
          Sanford Goldstein
  late middle-age
her sails fall and rise
through the silver lake
autumn gusts slice
the broken wing of a swan
          Linda Jeannette Ward

Finally a tanka that starts off deceptively simple, leading readers towards a richness of imagery that engages and elicits deep contemplation.

I used to think
the world could not go on
without me . . .
does a fallen leaf know
its place among the stars
                      Jo McInerney

Eucalypt, issue 8 contains tanka that will delight, inspire and captivate. Invest in a copy to enjoy somewhere in a peaceful corner away from the toils of daily life. Subscription information, previous reviews and the Distinctive Scribbling Awards can be found at:

This Review was first published in five bells 17 (4) Spring 2010 pp. 164-166.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Maria Steyn, the reviewer, and of the editor of five bells.

Eucalypt 9, edited by Beverley George
Review by Patricia Prime

Eucalypt is a print journal on silk paper that contains tanka only - and is the tanka journal poets aim for in Australia and world wide. Issue 9 showcases the work of 91 poets working in moods that range from humorous to passionately intense. While the majority of poets are Australian, there are admirable tanka in this magazine by New Zealand poets, among them Elaine Riddell and Andre Surridge, and from poets from Canada, the United States, Bhutan, Mexico, Japan, Ethiopia, England and South Africa.

The journal opens with this fine tanka, which epitomises summer in Australia:
on the hessian rug
a centerpiece of yabbies
piled high . . .
campfire smoke still drifts
around my dad and me

— Bett Angel-Stawarz
The wide-ranging focus of the tanka move through Margaret Ruckert's memories of holidays to Julie Thorndyke's elegant capturing of a personal relationship, to the delicate love lyric of Jan Foster's tanka about making love as one gets older:
making love
in the afternoon
the drumbeat
a little slower now
but no less insistent
Carmel Summers' equally eloquent tanka reveals what it means to open oneself to life and to let go of those things which are unimportant:
wind whips
my hair, scours
my skin
I open my hand
letting go . . . letting go . . .
Gavin Austin's "sordid murmurs", perhaps one of the finest tanka in the collection, recalls memories of a relationship in a cheap motel, when "we thought we were in love".
sordid murmurs
penetrate peeling walls
of the cheap motel... .
do you recall those times
we thought we were in love
Tanka about friends, family and relationships are an integral, not incidental, part of the collection, and when it comes to childhood recollections, the tone is just right in Julie Thorndyke's evocative tanka about life on a farm:
cows queuing
for the evening milking
no one home
but me . . . too young
to even light the lamp
But for many of us it is the truths in the pervasive melancholy of ageing, missed opportunities and what the future holds in store that is revealed with a subtle and brooding intelligence in Cathy Drinkwater Better's poem:
now I count my days
in shabby dishtowels
and broken cups - gone
are the dreams of doing
something no one else has done

Eucalypt 9 will have appeal to a world audience. The riveting perception of individual tanka shows the full range of the form, and will always be engaged and engaging for the reader.

This Review was first published in
Haiku NewZ, the New Zealand Poetry Society web-site, February 2011.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Patricia Prime, the reviewer, and of the editor of Haiku NewZ.

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Eucalypt 10, edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Owen Bullock

I took great pleasure in the variety of subject matter in this issue of Eucalypt, including the joy of the mundane in Keitha Keyes' 'half awake'; the sense of dismay in Peggy Heinrich's 'this former lover'; the extreme devotion of Elaine Riddell's 'barefoot'; the continuity in Linda Jeanette Ward's 'arranging', and the tragedy of Linda Galloway's 'a skipping stone'. I'd like to look at three tanka in detail.

eyes half-closed,
the fiddler wails
on his fiddle
and the roar rises,
the roar rises from the deep
            Michael McClintock

The repetition here is both matter-of-fact and rhythmical. The fiddler keeps to what he knows (much like Issa’s turnip-puller); this is how he evokes the elemental, the primal. 'The roar’ makes me think of stags roaring to attract hinds in the mating season, and it's possible that the context here is one of sexuality or relationship. Alternatively, it might imply longing for a homeland, or for more sense in the world than there is.

she sat,
that sixty-three-year-old woman,
sat down uninvited,
all the words in her frail voice
somehow connected to my past
            Sanford Goldstein

The repetition of ‘she sat’ and 'sat down uninvited’ enhances the sense of the poet's indignation and of re-telling the story, much as the woman in question has been re-telling stories, perhaps already heard too often. If we didn't know that Sanford was an elderly gentleman, this woman might be his mother! More likely, a sister; or even a daughter; the implication is that he knows her as he's specific about her age. If she's not related, what is the connection? We don't know exactly because he says 'somehow'. Is it something about her story, or merely her tone of voice which reminds him of something in his own past. I think we could ponder this well into the night, the sign of a successful poem; I suggest that much of its success lies in what it leaves out.

a jar of
home-made blueberry jam
my gift
to that stubborn person –
what do I know about him?
            Kozue Uzawa

This tanka intrigued me. My initial reaction was a little ‘so what-ish’, after all, we don’t know much about the person either. But we see that the writer is interested enough in getting to know him better, or at least in investigating her own reactions to him; to give him a jar of jam, to go to his house or flat. He might indeed be the stubbornest of men, from her point of view, but she's realised that that’s all she knows about him; he’s still human and worthy of care.

Once again, in Eucalypt, there is something for everyone.

This Review was first published in Kokako 15 2011 pp.60-61.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Owen Bullock, the reviewer, and of the editor of Kokako.

Eucalypt 12, edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by David Terelinck

In an age where there has been an exponential growth of self-published tanka on electronic media, it is still a great relief to this writer to hold a print journal the quality of Eucalypt 12 in his hands. There is much satisfaction to be gained in the tactile feel of hanno silk paper; and the joy of being seduced by the scent of fresh ink on turned pages. Is this the feeling that ancient scribes encountered when they produced fine volumes of tanka dating back to the Heian period of Japan? The production values of Eucalypt 12 do much to honour the ongoing traditions of this highly respected form of poetry.

There is no doubt that electronic publication formats such as Twitter, poetry blogs, FaceBook, and personal web pages have increased the awareness and popularity of short poetic forms such as haiku and tanka. However there is a serious risk that, when these tenuous venues are not moderated or edited, the quality within the posts may be elusive. There can be a blurring of the lines between what is being called tanka by those with less experience, and what is actually accepted to be tanka by definition of form and structure, and by those with many years of experience spent researching, reading, editing, and writing tanka. The Net has given us instant gratification; within seconds of writing a tanka it can be “liked” on social media pages multiple times over; but this does not necessarily mean there is inherent quality within the poem. Therefore, due to a lack of editorial control, one may have to wade through many miles of ethereal lodestone to find a single diamond.

This is not so with issue 12 of Eucalypt, where every tanka is a polished gem. Due to Beverley George’s extensive experience as an editor and tanka competition judge, and her status as an international award-winning and published tanka poet in her own right, her focus is on quality at all times. It is this acumen as a quality editor and writer that guides the selections within Eucalypt 12. Indeed Beverley George is removed from personal bias and claims of ego as she does not publish her own tanka within the pages of any edition of Eucalypt.

Issue 12 features exemplary tanka from 95 poets in 10 different countries. Upon reading these poems, we inherently know this is a publication worth waiting for every six months. We don’t mind as we know the editorial controls mean the tanka will be fresh and original, not seen before in cyberspace, and that the quality will be exceptionally high

Eucalypt is a journal of relationship . . . it draws us in, and we are invited to sit with poets and share the spaces within their lives. Often those spaces can be uncomfortable, but integral to our place with others. Susan Constable, a favourite poet of this reviewer, uses effective contrasting imagery to display the difficulties of relationships when two persons are at cross purposes:

a thick layer
of bright green moss
on the boulder . . .
his words can’t soften
the look in her eyes

The other two poems that appear on the same page complement this theme of people and their intertwined lives. Beverley George has the subtle gift of grouping tanka to allow each to shine individually; yet she is a master at magnifying the effect of the entire page by selecting the “right” tanka to group together from the 126 that appear in this issue. Take for example these following that are on the same page as the tanka above:

he spoke
in floating petals
she replied
in piercing pins
and vinegar
            Barbara Curnow

you’ve been dying
to share –
ice rearranges
in my glass
            Aubrie Cox

One of the great strengths of this journal is the selection of poems that are rich in meaning, yet not overblown in their imagery. The following tanka by Shona Bridge is a fine example of the understated elegance that has defined good tanka for many centuries:

each small stitch
of her needle
in the moonlight . . .
the movement of red thread
for what words won’t say

There is a musical lyricism when this tanka is read aloud, and the sensitive alliteration adds to the evocative nature of the words and meaning.

It is this “poetry within the poem” that is so vitally important to high quality tanka. And there are many excellent examples of tanka that sing as poems within Eucalypt 12. Who could fail to be moved by John Soule’s tanka that is a fresh take on the theme of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust:”

weathered barn
settling lower and lower
each passing day
becoming part of the soil
like the farmer who built it

Sanford Goldstein’s tanka speaks of being alone when the earthquake hit Japan . . . but the greater fear comes through in the last line; the ominous silence that is suggestive of fear as uncertainty sets in as to who has perished, and what the future holds for the survivors:

alone at home
when the hanging lamps whirled
and floors shook,
I thought my world had fallen
until the house grew silent

Counterpoint to this is the delicately crafted tanka of Mariko Kitakubo on the same page. Mariko’s poem is starkly constructed, but vibrant with emotion and imagery: how silent
the light rain
of radiation –
we continue searching
for his parents’ bodies

Eucalypt 12 also contains many tanka that speak of the positives aspects of life, and the sensual joy to be gained from the world we move in:

deep gentian night
scented by salt marsh
at ebb tide
prawners’ lights bob and sway
sequins in a night club
            M L Grace

she slips
into something more
comfortable –
out of her tight skirt
into her garden
            Barbara Curnow

in a cabin
deep in the old-growth forest
a log fire burns . . .
your hand on my shoulder
still firm as we grow older
            Mary Franklin

As with previous issues, Eucalypt 12 is supported by a website with multiple resources. There are informative articles and appraisals of quality tanka that are a valuable learning tool for both the novice and experienced tanka poet alike. The presence of this website, and the occasional and infrequent newsletter that Beverley George sends to subscribers, means that our pure tanka enjoyment within the journal is not deflected by articles that may be better placed for accessing elsewhere.

Eucalypt 12 is further testament to the ongoing need for high-quality editorial controls. By adopting this approach, Beverley George has ensured that we continue to be blessed with a high-quality tanka print journal that continues to showcase excellent tanka for the enjoyment of all.

This Review was first published in Blithe Spirit 23 (1) 2013 pp.59-63.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of David Terelinck, the reviewer, and of the editor of Blithe Spirit.

Eucalypt 13, edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by André Surridge

If you love tanka then this is the journal for you. If you are at that stage in your writing when you are looking to expand your haiku horizons then I also recommend this journal to you. It is one that you will enjoy reading and the opportunity is here to learn by example what it is about tanka that enriches our experience of English literature.

“Eucalypt” is a handy to hold A5-size journal printed on very good quality paper and bound in a firm card cover. The first issue was released in 2006. Now into issue 13, “Eucalypt” is firmly established as a quality international tanka journal.

In this issue there are over 130 tanka from 99 poets who live in 10 countries. Over half of these poets live in Australia, which is to be expected since the journal is printed in Oz where there is a very active tanka community writing to a very high standard. There is a strong contingent of American poets and New Zealand is well represented with 9 poets including Karen Butterworth, Patricia Prime, Elaine Riddell, Barbara Strang & Helen Yong.

With no more than four tanka to a page these elegant poems are given space to breathe in a variety of different layouts. Often there are only one or two to a page when accompanied by a captivating illustration.

Illustrations by Pim Sarti inspired by individual tanka are scattered sparingly throughout the journal. In this issue I counted a total of 12 including a horse, bristlecone pine, ferns, daisies, feathers, snail, butterfly, wattle flowers, a goose, flowering iris, casuarina needles and a boy on roller blades pushing a stroller. The latter illustrates a tanka by New Zealand’s Helen Yong…

winter afternoon –
a boy on rollerblades
pushes a stroller…
in rain soft as a prayer
he delivers newspapers

My favourite illustration in this issue is one of several feathers, which appear so lifelike they seem to fall through the page and through this exquisite tanka by Australia’s Jan Dean…

they appear a lot
stray feathers here and there
I wonder
who owned them, are they from
the land of birds or angels?

Like “Kokako”, this is a journal you fall in love with each time it arrives. When you come across a tanka as beautiful as this little gem from Michael McClintock who is without doubt, one of the best writers of modern English tanka, you are left wanting more…

between our houses
there’s an invisible string
connecting us
in quiet hours
in unusual ways

Enough mystery and intrigue there to base a novel on… And to demonstrate the versatility of the tanka form consider this from Carol Raisfeld…

touching the doll here
she tells the nurse about
Uncle Frank…
in the waiting room
the family can’t imagine

There are also some delightful tanka with more than a touch of humour. Take this one from Cynthia Rowe…

your new job
door-to-door karate
I pray you are gracious
with the frail and infirm

And the wonderful thing about Eucalypt, all 13 issues produced so far, is that you can revisit this world of tanka in all its richness and complexity and find that nothing is diminished, no matter how often you re-read them. There’s an alphabetical index at the back so you can easily locate tanka by your favourite poets.

This Review was first published in Kokako 18 2013 pp.51-53
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of André Surridge, the reviewer, and of the editor of Kokako.

Eucalypt 14, edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by Claire Everett

The internet is a wonderful thing. I've never had the good fortune to visit Australia, but in a matter of seconds I can google eucalypt and discover that it is an umbrella name for three closely-related genera (Corymbia, Angophora and Eucalyptus -- although there seems to be some disagreement among the taxonomists about who is part of the family, and who isn't). I learn that many, but by no means all eucalypts, are commonly called gum trees on account of the copious sap they exude from the slightest nick in the bark. I read about their glossy leaves, their perfumed shade. I am familiar with the healing, comforting qualities of eucalyptus in the form of cough drop, balm and tincture, but can only imagine what it is to breathe the scent exhaled by the living tree. An aura of fascination surrounds these mythic beings whenever I bring them to mind, much like the blue haze that shrouds them on a warm day. It is not difficult to see why Beverley George might have chosen Eucalypt as the name for her acclaimed tanka journal, especially when we consider that the word derives from the Greek: (eu) "well" and (kalyptos) "covered", in reference to the bud cap that conceals the nascent bloom. Tanka is the perfect vehicle for conveying the whole gamut of human experience and emotion; by virtue of it I can walk a path through the eucalypts; I can witness rainbow lorikeets sipping dregs of milkshake from emptied glasses; I find myself wrapped in the crocheted afghan belonging to someone else's mother; I can feel the truth of Sonam Chhoki?s words:

my aunt
who has no English
understands cancer . . .
no language can describe
the terror in her eyes

Eucalypt does much to honour the tradition of tanka. Beverley George is an award-winning poet and an accomplished editor. Contributors can rest assured the fruits of their labours are in safe hands. Appropriately, issue 14 opens with the following tanka by Rodney Williams:

the old bush track
scarred with wheelbarrow ruts
a path well-worn
by first-settler gardeners
pushing their wares to market

Themes that preoccupied the waka poets of the Heian court are no less relevant today and a skilful editor acknowledges this whilst encouraging vibrant imagery, new twists; tanka that polish the family silver, but only after its been melted down and turned into pendants and bangles. Even one of our most ancient muses can be seen in a whole new light:

I bring in the washing
at midnight
my moon-laundered sheets
now whiter than white

Michael Thorley

It is refreshing to see very modern tanka which address contemporary issues alongside more traditional poems:

on the table
beside a weeping rose
two empty cups --
she finds friends on facebook
he clicks through his email

Michelle Brock

morning twilight
slipping away with the last
of the stars --
how brief the courtship
between arrow and bow

David Terelinck

Still, we have love:

the sun beats
like a metronome against
the steel kitchen door . . .
I love you because you want me
to catch the mouse in the cupboard

Bob Lucky


you should have seen
this heart before the vessels
all were ruptured
how with every lover's moon
in and out swept a strong tide


And loss:

wings torn and featherless
you'll never sing
dawn to the edge of blue,
I struggle to rise

Kathy Kituai

But many other themes, and nuances of shade and tone within those themes, are woven into the rich fabric that is Eucalypt. Beverley George has an uncanny knack of placing tanka in sequence in such a way that they link and shift, chime or contrast with each other, so that each is enhanced and reverberates with meaning. Take these three:

this empty house waits
chores done, I stare out
at the winter garden
realise how her quiet
presence fills my life

John Parsons

fresh snow
in the wagon road
to the old graveyard
the weight of his life
carving deep ruts

Elizabeth Howard

a sky writer
graffitis the blue
with love
is it you who sends
this delightful message?

Jo Tregellis

Notice the recurring themes of quiet, presence versus absence, weight versus weightlessness; a wagon's tracks in the snow as opposed to a contrail's cursive (yet both are transient). Notice the subtle shifts in mood. As much thought goes into Beverley George's ordering of the tanka and their placement on the page as went into the tanka themselves. She has turned editing into a gentle art. Certainly, Eucalypt seems to be akin to a symphony, wherein each theme can be regarded as a movement consisting of several 'short songs'. One tanka might be a tuning fork for another, but chiaroscuro is also used to full effect, though never intrusively, like the sun through the trees, spreading it shawl. Sit awhile with the following two poems:

there is no equal
to summer cicadas
for serenity --
listen to their voices
at autumn's approach

Michael McClintock

chirping at dusk
the small child
runs crying
from an unknown song

Dy Andreasen

There are many beautiful, reflective tanka, but equally, contributing poets don't shy away from difficult issues; just as death will come knocking on everyone's door, for many of us, hard times, or at least the memory of them, are never too far away:

welfare mom --
on the kitchen table
the scattered pieces
of her picture puzzle . . .
just the border done

John Quinnett

'I'm always afraid
it will come back'
he says
of childhood poverty
and looks at his hands

Belinda Broughton

I would find it very difficult to choose a favourite tanka from Eucalypt 14; there are so many fine poems from relative newcomers and seasoned tankaists alike. Much depends on my mood when I'm reading (and re-reading) which, for me, is one of the many joys of the genre, added to which the overall emotional impact of the poem is a two-way process, between poet and reader. As I write, the following two tanka particularly speak to me; both are uncluttered, contain simple but evocative imagery and leave ample room for dreaming:

a button back on
the way
I was shown by my
estranged mother

Robert Davey

second-hand shop
in an old book on the art
of Raphael
an inscription to Miss Court
for lonely evenings

Andre Surridge

What makes Eucalypt even more special, is its website, curated by John Bird. Not only is this an excellent resource, complete with articles and details of Beverley's own collections, but it is home to The Distinctive Scribblings awards which recognise two outstanding tanka from each issue of Eucalypt, selected and appraised by the award winners from the previous issue. The awards have been archived since the first issue in 2006 and make excellent reading. Why Distinctive Scribblings? Well, it's all about those gum trees again. Apparently moth larvae, who spend their days nibbling the living wood are responsible for this swirling graffiti which comes to light when the tree sheds its bark.

Eucalypt, Australia's first tanka journal, is published twice a year and subscribers receive an occasional lively newsletter and have the opportunity, from time to time, to take part in the Eucalypt Challenge on a chosen theme. Tanka has firm roots in Australian soil, but Eucalypt has a very international flavour.

In the words of Julie Thorndyke:

each koala
needs eucalypt leaves
and the wombat
his own soil to burrow . . .
our stories feed and ground us

This Review was first published in Skylark 1:2 Winter 2013 pp. 120-126.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Claire Everett, the reviewer, and of the editor of Skylark.

Eucalypt ??, edited by Beverley George

Reviewed by ?????


This Review was first published in Kokako 15 2011 pp.60-61.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Owen Bullock, the reviewer, and of the editor of Kokako.