Kyoto Sakura Tanka, by Andrew Lansdown

Kyoto Sakura Tanka by Andrew Lansdown’s is a collection of poems and photographs that pay tribute to the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto, during the cherry blossom (sakura) season.

A busy author, Kyoto Sakura Tanka is Australian Andrew Lansdown’s fifteenth published collection of poetry and his first published collection of photography.

The poems are written in tanka (waka), an ancient form traditional to Japan. Tanka’s are thirty-one-syllable poems, five lines long.

Lansdown has some lovely imagery in his work, for example, ‘Windows on the water’ where “pale cherry petals on the old canal drift across rectangles of light”

But I confess tanka is not my favourite form, and while I appreciate the dedication to constraint the form imposes, on the whole Kyoto Sakura Tanka fails to win me over to tankas charms. Some images feel overwritten in order to get the syllables right.

The concept of including photos with poetry is debatable. In order to earn justify their inclusion they need to really earn their keep. The photos in this collection are undoubtedly good travel snaps, but they need to be more than this to really zing.

The fleeting and fragile nature of the cherry blossom is captured in part by Lansdown in Kyoto Sakura Tanka, but overall this collection of over 100 poems is on the lengthy side and could benefit from some judicious editing.

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Heidi North-Bailey Formerly working in publishing in London, Heidi is now a freelance editor and writer based in Auckland. A graduate of the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University and The Creative Hub, Heidi also has a first class Honours Degree in Screenwriting and Directing from The University of Auckland, Heidi is passionate about good storytelling across genres and loves reading, especially literary and children’s fiction. When not being kept busy as a new mum, Heidi tinkers with poetry and is chipping away at a novel.

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