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Also by Naomi Beth Wakan
The Way of Tanka

Poetry That Heals

by Naomi Beth Wakan

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In this inspiring memoir, Naomi Beth Wakan takes the reader on a journey through her lifelong experiences writing various forms of Japanese poetry, especially haiku and its related genres. She explains the rules and structure that distinguish the various forms, providing many examples of her own work as well as poems from well-known historical and contemporary poets. Very importantly, however, Wakan shows by example that the "rules" are not to be taken as impediments, but rather as guideposts on the journey to discover and explore oneself. Looking back, Wakan realizes that her practice of poetry writing has enabled her to develop awareness, dispassionate interest, personal healing, and compassion. In her own words: "I have come to see that in creating poetry, I am creating myself."

BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Healing / General
POETRY / Haiku

ISBN: 978-1-947067-28-8 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-947067-29-5 (digital)

LCCN: 2017964362

Released February 2018

104 pages

Author Biography

Naomi Beth Wakan is a poet and personal essayist. She has produced over fifty books, her latest being The Way of Tanka (Shanti Arts, 2017). She is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo and the Inaugural Honorary Ambassador for the Federation of British Columbia Writers. She lives on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, the sculptor Elias Wakan.

read "Meet Naomi Wakan"


Being Here Now Loosening with Laughter
Reading Haiku Haiga — Freeing the Artist
How to Write a Haiku Letting It All Out — Tanka
GINKO — The Haiku Walk Opening tanka — Response Tanka
Haiku and Wabi-Sabi Being in Community
Healing the Earth Haibun — The Journey


"In this inspired memoir, Naomi Beth Wakan’s exuberance is palpable on every page as she leads us on a journey through the realms of haikai; that is, haiku and its related genres. Along the way we encounter many of the often controversial 'rules' that attend the various forms. Naomi has considered the importance of these tenets without becoming ensnared. With resolve, and what Buddhism terms 'the way-seeking mind,' she has reached the heart of what these forms, particularly haiku, have to offer: a deep and abiding appreciation for this ephemeral moment, an appreciation that transcends the written word. For Naomi, the journey has been both joyous and cathartic. By sharing her insights, she encourages us to discover for ourselves the gifts of haikai."
— Christopher Herold, founding editor of The Heron‘s Nest

"Poetry That Heals is very personal and written in a lovely conversational style. It will make you feel as if Naomi Beth Wakan is sitting right next to you chatting as old friends. I enjoyed that intimacy in the writing, not aloof and distant to the reader, but walking hand-in-hand with them on the healing journey. Excellent exemplars were given from poets I have long-admired, such as Carole MacRury and Susan Constable. I really enjoyed the analysis of each poem quoted. I thought the comments were very sensitive and insightful.

"Poetry can be a cathartic way to heal . . . either by simply reading it, writing it, or a combination of the two. It is a great way to deal with powerful emotions that we may have trouble articulating to others and a way for our psyche to talk to the page and examine how we are feeling. Truly poetry is a healing tool across the lifespan. This book, Poetry That Heals, will resonate deeply with those who already journey with poetry as a healing tool in their lives, as Naomi does, and it will reach out to others who are only just setting foot on their healing path of words. I really enjoyed the journey."
—David Terelinck, poet and author of Slow Growing Ivy


Articles and Reviews

This review by Carolyn Coit Dancy appeared in frogpond, vol. 41.2 spring/summer 2018:
"In Poetry That Heals, Wakan seamlessly weaves her 30-year journey as a haijin into a narrative of personal growth that she attributes to the 'power of both reading and writing haiku, the opening to oneself that tanka offers, and the opening to others that response tanka allows.' At first glance, this book appears as a haiku primer but, don’t be fooled, it offers far more for seasoned poets. In this memoir, Wakan shows how she found poetry writing enabled her to develop awareness, dispassionate interest, personal healing and compassion. Furthermore, she indirectly encourages all haijin to hone
their skills of observation and to read haiku to become better writers. The writing of other Japanese genres is also recommended, because Wakan found each genre revealed 'new ways of living that fed my innermost yearnings.' Not-to-be-missed are the book’s last five pages (end of haibun section) in which Wakan summarizes the wisdom acquired during her healing haiku/tanka/renku journey. Although not identified as such, this summary serves the purpose of an afterword.”

Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy, Poetry That Heals Review.

Terry Ann Carter, "REVIEW: POETRY THAT HEALS | BY NAOMI BETH WAKAN," League of Canadian Poets.

Chen-ou Liu, "Cool Announcement: New Release, Poetry That Heals by Naomi Beth Wakan," NeverEnding Story, March 4, 2018.

Janet Vickers, "Poetry That Heals by Naomi Beth Wakan: A Review," Infinite Power, February 19, 2018.


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