It has been a topsy-turvy sort of summer for me, but I finally caught up with my writing friends at Eastwood/Hills Fellowship of Australian writers and was able to take delivery of my copy of Assorted Dreams. The members who took on the job of editing and publishing the anthology have done a fine job of putting the book together, with a nice balance of poems and short stories.
So many dedicated writers have participated in the Eastwood/Hills meetings, workshops and competitions since the beginning of the group. This anthology publishes work by twenty-two of the current members. It demonstrates what writers can achieve, when we meet together, learn from each other, and provide a supportive environment for creativity to flourish.
Blithe Spirit: journal of the British HaikuSociety Volume 33 Number 1 2023 pp 91-92 review by A.A. Marcoff
This is a little gem, a little book of 100 tanka, one to a page, by a well-practised hand, editor of Eucalypt: a tanka journal since 2017. Tanka (or waka) originally meant ‘short Japanese song’, and Julie Thorndyke’s poems really do read like songs, and sing form the page with all the music of time and existence. Her tanka are accessible, the very stuff of life and death, and they show a shining generosity of spirit. They share with the reader so much of Julie’s own life and ‘her singing heart’ – a life lived with all the vitality available to us—the whole panoply of experience.
In these pages you will find a 747, a teacher’s blackboard, an owl, a sister and a mother, lost love, red camellias, stars, a train, a paradox, a bowling alley, a father, wedding vows, jacaranda petals, a quilt, silence, laughter and friendship. The poems move and delight and echo through the valleys and hills of our own existence. William Blake might have called them ‘the productions of time’ :
the stillness of this evening lake we remember what it is to stop, listen, wait
Julie invites us into her life to do just that, and she shows us that we are all interconnected:
no matter on what cliff I stand salt winds tell me we are all part of one ocean
The book’s title, Borrowed Riches, suggests how fragile remains our purchase on this world, how fleeting and transient our presence here. We are left with ‘dream-echoes and life-songs’ and Julie’s work ‘yields a story of flame and ash’. Perhaps all we can do in the circumstances of this life is to ‘feel the breeze kiss the ocean’. It is a shared experience:
have you not learned tomorrow comes, regardless? lie with me, my love and dream on this shared pillow
Julie gives us a book that manifests the world in miniatures, that offers us tableaux of emotion, scenes from the reality of dreams, colloquies of experience expressed with all the possible vitality of being. It is a fine book indeed, truly authentic, translucent, and it will repay many more readings, all within her lingering, compelling, and resonant spell.
Like many people, during lockdown I have missed being able to celebrate personal milestones in the normal way. Significant birthdays, anniversaries and book releases have had to wait for another day. Ginninderra Press also have milestones to celebrate: and have published a book of poetry from 160 poets in this, their 25th year. I’m very glad to be included with my poem “Clean Lines”. Congratulations to Stephen and Brenda Matthews for another publishing milestone, and thanks for the brilliant support they offer to so many Australian writers.
There’s something romantic, mysterious and exciting about a rail journey. The cover of this new anthology, Last Train Home, captures the feeling so well. Canadian poet Jacqueline Pearce has selected around 600 short form poems including haiku, tanka and rengay, all addressing the theme of trains and train journeys.
Who among us didn’t enjoy playing with a toy train in our childhoods? Who hasn’t responded to the atmospheric film scenes of arrivals and departures on a fog-shrouded railway station? Who doesn’t long for the thrill and excitement of a new journey into the unknown?
I’m delighted to be included in this new book, with a fanciful tanka written in response to a literary favourite. I hope that you will come on a journey with the many wonderful contemporary haiku, tanka and rengay poets represented in this book.
Everyone’s new favourite app
showed red flames across the map
bushfire closed in like a trap—
it was too late to leave.
Blackened paws and toasted fur
burnt poles where the gum leaves were
smoke-smudged skies an ashen blur . . .
it was too late to leave.
Blood-red skies on New Year’s Eve.
Together people can achieve
a world with air that’s safe to breathe.
To keep our skies both clear and blue
you know what people have to do:
get rid of dirty fossil fuels
protect the trees like precious jewels
conserve our water, tend the land
at last the people understand
it is a choice we all must make
to save and nurture, give not take
to mend the damage, gain reprieve
there’s no plan B—we cannot leave.