Sunday, September 29, 2013

Keibooks Announces January, A Tanka Diary, by M. Kei

Keibooks Announces January, A Tanka Diary, by M. Kei

Press Release – For Immediate Release – Please post to all appropriate venues

28 September 2013– Perryville, Maryland, USA

"Step inside this book and meet a magician—a man who knows the secrets of the sea and the land and the sky; a man who can catch the vastness of oceans and the smallness of sparrows in the same few words in five lines."—Joy McCall

Opening with the cold days of January and following the poet through a year of his life, January, A Tanka Diary, is the latest collection from the internationally respected tanka poet and editor, M. Kei. Melancholy, hopeful, or satiric, these are poems alive to the beauty of the world. He has the ability to capture subjects as small as a single snowflake or as big as history, all told with an intimate honesty. In Kei's hands, the ancient five line tanka poem breathes with contemporary life. 

Each tanka appears in the order in which it was written with a date attached. We can see the poet sitting down to write on New Year’s Day, and the multitude of poems and subjects that flow from his pen. We can follow him as he hikes and writes tanka over the bones of a dead deer, and as he explores the mysteries of the natural world. Of course, we follow him to sea in the company of sailboats and pelicans. 

A large collection, January, A Tanka Diary, contains 640 poems of which more than 220 have never been seen before. The rest are collected from the scores of venues in which he has published around the world. Fans of his work will no doubt recognize some of their favorite tanka, but will see them as they were written in the company of other poems from the same date. The author of Slow Motion : The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack, shows us that he is as sensitive to life ashore as at sea.

in the darkness
inside my heart
the lights of a distant city
are burning

but still attached, 
two clamshells
something like
a husband and wife

my hand on the tiller
like Water Rat and Mole,
with no particular place to go
and no particular desire
to get there any time soon

Comments from Sanford Goldstein, author of Journeys Far and Near:

“In the past sixty-five years I cannot remember a tanka collection as long as M. Kei’s January, A Tanka Diary. The collection contains 640 tanka, 420 published not in his previous collections, but in journals and other places, and 220 new poems. It is a fascinating voyage of discovery of a Kei we have not known this well. The book starts from January 1, 2007, to the next January 1. It surprised me that Kei is so interested in flowers, birds, grass, clouds, sky—of course with his duty aboard floating vessels he is intimate with the ocean. The subjects vary of course, but what I found particularly fascinating is that the two final lines of the tanka bring a surprise and hold up the entire poem. 

“I have no room to cite individual poems, but one that appeals to me is a laundry day in which Kei’s larger underwear is drying outside with his son’s much smaller underwear. Another poem is about his daughter—Kei has come home, opens the refrigerator door to find the chicken inside had been plucked, so he knows his daughter had visited him. Poems of a sexual nature occur, one of which I once criticized as not being in the right order for a sequence. 

“Such an enormous undertaking cannot be read at a sitting. Take your time in reading it. On a second reading I discovered elements I had not thought of. Yes, do read it and experience a new tanka view of Kei’s world.”

Comments from Joy McCall, author of circling smoke, scattered bones:

“Step inside this book and meet a magician—a man who knows the secrets of the sea and the land and the sky; a man who can catch the vastness of oceans and the smallness of sparrows in the same few words in five lines. M. Kei blazes a trail. This is a big beautiful gathering, to keep forever.

“There is great sadness in these poems. There is deep longing. There is humour, too. He makes me smile. There are insights which surprise. There are poems of great beauty that catch the breath. There are everyday poems which remind us we are all human.

“This book will be going with me everywhere I go. I love every poem in it.  But if I have to pick a favourite, it's this one: 

it's a day like any other,
full of melancholy
and yet—somewhere
there are herons

“Some things are beyond my words. If you buy nothing else this year, not even food, buy this book.”

January, A Tanka Diary
ISBN 978-0615871561 (Print) 275 pp
also available for Kindle
$18.00 USD (print) or $5.00 USD (Kindle)

Purchase in print at:

Also available in print and ebook at and other online retailers.

P O Box 516
Perryville, MD 21903 USA