January 2016
Book Reviews


Author/Cover Artist: Debbie Strange, Canada
Dimensions: 8 inches x 9 inches
Construction: Soft perfectbound
Total page count: 85
Publisher: Keibooks, USA
Publish date: 2015
Language: English
ISBN: 9781512361124

WARP AND WEFT TANKA THREADS is a unique presentation insofar as it’s author Debbie Strange from Canada, explains in her Author’s Note in-part:

“Each triptych in this tanka collection contains poems taken from different publications, but sharing a common thread.”

In addition, M. Kei writes from the back cover blurb of this book in-part, as being:

“Primal poetry with a pagan heart” Warp and Weft by Debbie Strange weaves tanka into short threads of three each, each triptych building into larger sequence that tells the story of a poet with a raven’s eye.”

Already I was intrigued and not to be disappointed. Starting with the cover art “A Spider’s Loom” which is by the author herself, and in keeping with her triptych theme. The two that I enjoyed the most mentioned “father and mother”:

a prairie Gael

she sets sail
through oceans of grain
anchored to her father
trailing fingers in his wake
untangling beards of barley

on the rotting dance floor
our father built
in the ash grove he planted
between rows of aching years

on father’s coffin
the cowboy hat and polished boots
of a prairie Gael
the skirling pipes
that sing him home


she calls us in
we press our noses
against wet glass
as tumbleweeds turn cartwheels
in the yellow bruise of sky

in the nursing home
parchment skin cradles brittle bones
a blue labyrinth
inked on mother’s handscape
time’s trembling calligraphy

sister roses
heads drooping
these petals of memory
dappling the motherstone

and a few more of my favorites for your enjoyment too:


the way snow
covers fallen leaves
this need
to make order
out of our chaos

the glow
of candled sea ice
at sundown
snowflakes melting
on our lashes

we sip Darjeeling
and dream
of growing marigolds
in monsoon rain


after the storm
you gathered shreds
of the garden
my bleeding heart
in the small of your hand

shearing back
the forget-me-nots
we planted
beside the sun dial
time and I stand still

in the hat you gave me
I am undone
by faded ribbons
and the scent of lilies

turning season

winter winds
play an aeolian harp
of barbed wire
a lone coyote and I howl
at the long night moon

lying in sage
on limestone cliffs
sunning myself
with ribbon snakes
emerging from hibernation

mercurial wind
in this turning season
my body
a weather vane tilting
in a new direction

What a riveting book of tanka this is indeed, much to my liking as I am sure it will be to all of those who have the privilege to read it.

—UHTS cattails Tanka Book Reviewer an'ya, USA