published in Blithe Spirit: Mariko Kitakubo

Mariko Kitakubo Profile

Mariko Kitakubo

Born in Tokyo.
Living in Mitaka-city, Tokyo
Japan Writers' Association,
Japan PEN Club,
Association of Contemporary Tanka Poets,
Japan Tanka Poets' Society,
Tan-Ku Co-Founder,
Tanka Society of America.

In commemoration of
15 years of tanka reading
The Latest Tanka Sequence
Original Tanka presented at
Spoken World Live

Contemprary Tanka Poet Mariko Kitakubo.

My tanka published in Blithe Spirit.

I express my gratitude to Mr. A A Marcoff for his wonderful review of DISTANCE in Vol. 33 No. 4 of Blithe Spirit, the poetry magazine of the British Haiku Society.

In his review, Mr. Marcoff compared the book to the works of great musicians like Bach, Matisse, and Cézanne.

I would also like to thank the editors of Blithe Spirit for providing valuable space for the review.





Distance by Mariko Kitakubo, Deborah P Kolodji, Shabda Press, 2023, paperback, 94 pages,

Mariko (Japan) writes tanka. Deborah (California) writes haiku. After the pandemic brought them together on the internet, these two great voices are now become as sisters in poetry, linked across the ocean, and in their book of tanka and haiku in combinations (Tan-Ku), they have composed a magical, sublime duet, improvisations in realities and dreams.

Constructed with echo, counterpoint and reprise, this book seems like a Bach concerto for two interweaving violins. The two poets are dream- travellers, and at times touch the cosmos in a 'Music of the Galaxy'. But in this haiku, we are brought from the stars right down to earth:

of the universe
a boy and his dog

In mirrors of the soul, Distance offers us a little kaleidoscope of everything, in 'emanations' (Matisse) and 'realisations' (Cezanne), that takes us from Samarkand and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania (with its cradle or creation of the species), to Asakusa and the Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo. Sometimes we are led through a Torii (Shinto gateway) that marks a transition from the mundane to the sacred. These haiku and tanka were created in the spontaneity of the moment out of an emotion heightened by the pandemic. Several times I heard reverberations of the Zen koan, 'show me your face before you were born'.

Both poets are seasoned practitioners, and both are well-travelled. Mariko in particular, by all accounts a deeply impressive performer of her tanka, has taken her art all over the globe, and has made tanka truly international, touching so many hearts and minds:

the antique glass
comes into the world

spring snow
or petals of sakura
falling falling
like ashes in Ukraine

Deborah, Moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, has travelled to Tokyo to do a haiku presentation:

the sea pounding
even in my dreams

bees in soft petals
I open my arms
to the sun

Together they have given us the light of the stars, and the raw beauty and authenticity of things. They write with real flair, with the flow of things (they quote Heraclitus and his concept of 'Panta Rhei' ('Everything flows')), in spontaneous observations and essentials. We are left with the human condition, the way of life itself, couched in small poems that express the inexpressible with wonder. This is a book to love - absolutely. Absolutely in a relative world.

A A Marcoff

"Blithe Spirit" - the British Haiku Society's Journal - posted my tanka in its volume 28, Number 1.

I am very happy about it, thank you very much, Mr. Shrikaanth K. Murthy.




of child and father
a rosary
around and back
to the beginning

  • PrevPrev
  • NextNext