Wind on the Heath
new and selected poems by Naomi Beth Wakan
Though mainly a prolific personal essayist, Naomi Beth Wakan admits that poetry in the form of haiku, tanka, and free verse has occupied a large percentage of her waking hours and many of her sleeping ones too. This exceptional collection, Wind on the Heath, includes poems written when Wakan was in her twenties along with many written in recent years, thus spanning roughly sixty years of inquisitive thinking and creative writing. The foundation of Wakan's work is her dedication to living an examined life, which Wakan describes in this way: Seeking in the darkness/a crack through/which we may glimpse reality. Her poetry, superbly presented in this life-spanning collection, allows readers to see the flicker of light showing through the crack. This is poetry to live by.
POETRY / General
ISBN: 978-1-951651-55-8 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Released November 2020
Naomi Beth Wakan is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo (2014–16) and the Federation of British Columbia Writer’s Inaugural Honorary Ambassador. She has published over fifty books. Her most recent book of essays, On the Arts, came out in 2020 (Shanti Arts). Her trilogy, The Way of Tanka, The Way of Haiku, and Poetry That Heals was published by Shanti Arts in 2019. Wakan is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, Haiku Canada, and Tanka Canada. She lives on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, the sculptor Elias Wakan.
“Plato said ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. The poems in Wind on the Heath are all about the examined life. Naomi Beth Wakan, essayist, psychotherapist, and poet laureate, has spent a lifetime pondering what it means to be human. Whether writing in longer lyrical verse or Japanese five-line tanka, nothing escapes her gaze or her questioning mind. What is clear from this collection of poems spanning her mid-twenties to late eighties, is that she was born inquisitive and has remained inquisitive. Whether she is writing about sex or how to cut a rose, these poems offer a bittersweet look at life with irony, humor, reflection, and a healthy dose of cynicism. These are poems that speak to human nature, our existential aloneness, the fleetingness of life, the pitfalls and hurdles we all must face, and as quoted from ‘Watchers,’ one of her earliest poems, this collection offers readers a crack through which they may glimpse reality.”
“Known worldwide for her insightful instruction books on writing short form poems, here is a celebration of Naomi Beth Wakan’s own poetry—new and selected from over sixty years of writing. This important collection of haiku, tanka, free verse includes old favorites (rose just cut/beside the vase/two red leaves from ‘How To Write a Haiku’; reading on the deck/my list of ‘things to do’/as a bookmark from ‘On Reading’) and stunning new work (like wood shavings/on the workshop floor/we curl tightly together). These are poems that sneak up on you. Wakan’s voice is strong and clear. Many of these poems linger.”
“In an early poem from her twenties, Naomi Beth Wakan asks “Is there life I am living unlived?” The poems in Wind on the Heath, written over the next sixty years, answer with a resounding “No!” From Japan to Gabriola Island, from inviting conversational narrative to impeccable haiku and tanka, from finding new love to losing a breast, these are poems that celebrate abundant life in all its frail and blazing glory.”
Carole MacRury, “Review”, League of Canadian Poets, March 2021
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