The poetry

Although the poems written for 'On an Eastern breeze' are in English, the Japanese inspired lines follow the 'tanka' tradition of poetry.

 

Like the more commonly known 'haiku' style, 'tanka' poems also impose a line and syllable restriction on the writer.

 

In 'tanka' there are 5 lines, consisting of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllables respectively on each line.

 

The content of 'tanka' poems quite often deals with the themes of love, loss and nature.

 

In the following, Oz and Amina discuss their writing process:

 

"Based on research into similarities between historical English and Japanese literature, we have adopted the formal characteristics of tanka, but incorporated the robust rhythms and alliterative effects of Anglo-Saxon verse. Drawing these influences into the 21st century, experiments in creative connections between science and poetry have similarly informed our work, so that mythical and philosophical themes resonate with conceptualisations in the language and the notion of religion and science both being metaphors by which we explain what we don't really understand. In pursuing the parallels between the very different literary and cultural traditions of Japan and England, we were struck by a number of tropes which have been used in similar ways: in particular, the journey, water and the natural world. Such images are variously employed: purely descriptively, allegorically, and to hint at larger narratives.  

 

Using great medieval journey poems such as William Langland’s Piers Plowman (14th century) and Ki no Tsurayuki’s The Tosa Diary (10th century) as guides, On an Eastern Breeze addresses the global by means of a personal journey narrative. Updating the quests – both external and internal – of the medieval models, the unnamed protagonists occupy the roles of ‘Everyman’ figures and Nature as they navigate a landscape of environmental and economic instability, signposted by the paradoxes inherent in scientific understanding, that is to say, the idea that the more we 'know' scientifically, the more we seem to be removed from the world that we study. As in the medieval works, truth to self and to higher ideals is at the core of the sequence, with the individual functioning as a microcosm of the 21st-century world in which they attempt to make spiritual sense of their surroundings."

 

An expanded collection of tanka poems, entitled 'Close as Second Skins', will be published by Indigo Dreams Press in 2015.

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