Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ash Moon Anthology

I wrote the blurb for the dustcover of the hard copy edition of Ash Moon Anthology. I'd like to share it with folks because I think Ash Moon is the best anthology yet from Modern English Tanka Press, and at nearly 900 poems and nearly 100 authors, it is the largest tanka anthology published to date. I encourage you all to get your hands on a copy and read it. It is available through


Age. It happens to us all. Advertisements inform us that we can be sexual athletes at ninety, if only we buy the magic cure and follow the exercise guru's advice. Yet the evidence of our own lives is decidedly more human, more problematic, and full of petty perfidies. Age is not simply the prolongation of our youth with the help of a little dye to hide the grey hair but a fundamental process of transformation. We change, and as we change, we are haunted or enlivened by the past we carry with us. Understanding all that we are and have experienced is difficult enough, but communicating it to others is even harder, especially when the gap is dramatic as the one separating today's youth from today's elders. This is the chasm which the poets of Ash Moon cross. Nearly a hundred in number, they are themselves aging or the caregivers and companions of elders. With unblinking honesty they record their age as it is lived—despair and dereliction along side grace and humor—and what emerges is a true portrait of age with all its awkward complexities.

Readers of Ash Moon will find all these poems written in a fitting form, namely, 'tanka,' the eldest of poetic forms. The oldest continuously anthologized poetry in the world (compared to which the venerable sonnet is a mere stripling), tanka poetry has been the vehicle by which poets ancient and modern have given voice to the myriad beauties and burdens of their lives. The result is a series of snapshots without commentary, allowing the readers to directly experience the poets' vision. They will find much that resonates with them, and much to reflect on. The ash moon hangs over all our heads.

M. Kei

M. Kei is the editor of Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka and the author of Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay. He is the editor-in-chief of Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka of 2008.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this introduction. I haven't purchased my own copy yet, but will do so soon.


    Jim Wilson