What's New. Information on upcoming reading performance, newly issued books and more. 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.

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

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Scarlet Dragonfly Journal, a net poetry journal, posted our new Tan-Ku set appropriate for the Christmas season.

We extend our gratitude to editor Ms. Kathleen Trocmet.
Thank you very much.




Far North

distant sleigh bells
sinking into a dreamland
Christmas (D)

St. Nicolas
left the reins
in the air
salmon pink
aurora (M)

— Deborah P Kolodji, USA / Mariko Kitakubo, Japan


 Move to "Media Coverage"

Monday, December 25, 2023

"Under the Basho" recently published two new Tan-Ku sequences that we created after the release of DISTANCE.

We sincerely appreciate Mr. Clayton Beach, editor of "Under the Basho Journal."

>> Under the Basho / "A Higher Sky" page



>> Under the Basho / "Spring Rain" page


Monday, December 18, 2023

Ms. Vicki Miko wrote an excellent review for the book "DISTANCE." My sincere gratitude to Ms. Vicki Miko.


Deborah P. Kolodji and Mariko Kitakubo, both accomplished poets, have created a new form they have named, Tan-Ku. For those familiar with the appeal of short-form poems, Debbie and Mariko respond to each other via tanka and haiku, or the other way around, whoever starts the set or sequence first. The haiku is by Debbie and the tanka is by Mariko. Here are two of my favorite:


autumn forest
deepens and deepens
in color
who knows
when I will disappear

chilled by the wind
each step closer
to winter


Beyond the Marine Layer

an ocean of traffic
far below the sugar pine
island in the sky

here was
the seabed,
long ago. . .
Himalayan poppy
unforgettable blue

“Writing these poems of tanka/haiku response occurred organically, it wasn’t something we set out to create.” and “Mariko and I started having tanka/haiku conversations and found it addicting, the differences between tanka and haiku expressed as two voices, complementing each other.”

Mother Angel

on a Tiffany lamp
estate sale

the antique glass
comes into
the world

“The many co-creations we spun together, exchanging daily via smartphone messages were like a stream flowing in the light and shade.” and “A string of words from our souls while gritting our teeth and overcoming hardships.”

The Color red

a fir tree
in the maple forest
green. . .

dressing up drab clothes
with Christmas bling
I feel like singing

I love the seven chapter titles that carry the poems through a visible connection of different cultures and experiences—from “we hold virtual hands” to “as the road bends” to “my words drift.”

Through the Clouds

wiping off
and wiping off
the dark. . .
in the cloud

foggy morning
searching for a ray of light
within the gray

I can’t see
my fairy shoes
in the weds
trapped by gravity
within the haze

a bee dusts
the pollen

your crossed
fingers. . .
a bottle of mead
across the ocean

outstretched wings
the scan beep
of a boarding pass

DISTANCE is an expressive, heartfelt look into kindred hearts. It is a beautiful new form of short poems. The two authors touch something inside everyone.

- Vicki Miko

amazon customer review page

move to "Publication & Poet" page

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Mr. William Scott Galasso wrote an excellent review on the California State Poetry Society website for the book "DISTANCE." My sincere gratitude to Mr. William Scott Galasso.



Distance. Tan-ku Sequences and Sets by Mariko Kitakubo and Deborah P. Kolodji, Shabda Press, Duarte, CA www.shabdapress.com. 2023, 93 pp.$18.00 U.S (softcover), print 2023932505, ISBN:978-1-7377113-6-0

Deborah P. Kolodji is the longtime Moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, a member of the board of directors for Haiku North America, and the inaugural recipient of The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Presidents’ Lifetime Service Award. In addition, her highway of sleeping towns haiku poetry collection was awarded a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award from The Haiku Foundation. Mariko Kitakubo of Tokyo, is renowned for seven tanka collections, three of which are bilingual Cicada Forest, On This Same Star, and 2016’s Indigo. Needless to say, given their combined literary pedigree, their collaborative work Distance sets a high bar concerning one’s expectations.

Fortunately, Distance, subtitled Tan-Ku Sequences and Sets (for tanka and haiku), not only meets but exceeds these lofty expectations. These longtime friends, one might suggest (twin daughters of different mothers) have esteemed one another’s work for years. Each sharing their work and experiencing travels back and forth from the U.S and Japan between 2007-2019.

Then the pandemic struck and most conversation frequently expressed in verse (haiku by Deborah and tanka by Mariko), became their modus operandi. The first of seven sections, we hold virtual hands illustrates how these gifted poets formulated their dialogue. One would text, the other would respond and bridging the time and distance between them literally and figuratively. They did more than cope with different time zones, they excelled in creating unexpected connections.

The still waters of their call and response formula regardless of the specific subject matter inform each other and grow with each reading. Each of the seven sections is distinct in focus, yet they achieve synchronicity when considered as a whole. Here are some samples of their sets and sequences. I’ve chosen shorter pieces (primarily the sets) as examples due to limitations of space. However, the reward of reading the sequences contained this work is equal in terms of consistent quality.

This piece is from the initial section, we hold virtual hands:

Connecting Souls
there is
an invisible thread
between us…
quietness of
the pearl oyster

closing my eyes
I see your face
Vermeer’s earring

And this from the second section the eternal wind focused on Deborah’s battling illness:


wind will bring
the summer storm
my garden
bordered by living
cadmium yellow

wild mustard
growing out of control
clinical trail

And section three presents us with a classical Japanese reference:

Forest Bathing

uphill path
I slow down to breathe
the pine scent

she perches
at the edge of
my straw hat
a butterfly’s siesta
in emerald breeze

Each section gives us a deep sense nature’s healing power and inherent beauty, a part of Gaia’s treasured gift to us, her children. Hence, reminding us of our own responsibility as stewards of the earth. Here are two more samples that conjure two very different strands of the emotional spectrum the first derives from traces of us, the second from the section entitled my words drift.

End of the Tunnel

no one knows…
I escaped from
his violence
silent night
holy night

no more scarves
to hide the bruises
New Year’s resolution

In contrast with the celebratory…

9th Inning

losing streak
the crack of his bat
hits a foul ball

every motion
stops and restarts
we catch our breath
Gyakuten Sayonara!

The final line means “coming from behind,” a “goodbye,” a homer with the bases loaded that give a team the lead.

Finally, I would be remiss not to include a sequence, from as the road bends:

First Blanket

pale cloud face
the dignity
before perfection
chestnut moon

waiting, waiting
the slow rise
of the sun

what do you
smiles for the sky
newborn baby

first blanket
your face peeking out
from its folds
This collection Distance is full of quiet beauty and a wide range of subject matter comes Highly Recommended.

- William Scott Galasso

California State Poetry Society web page

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023





Three short poems

to water sounds
from the beech bark

miss you

the hummingbird
also joins
our breakfast

your shining lips


your sad days

his tanned collarbone

age sixteen

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

On December 9, 2023, I had the privilege of reading at the launch party of the Tokyo Poetry Journal Vol. 14. The event took place at Ryozan Park Lounge in Sugamo, Tokyo, and it was an incredibly enriching and meaningful experience for me.

Each previously designated presenter shared their unique expressions on stage, making it a memorable few hours.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Joy Waller for organizing this event. Thank you very much.

Photo by Mr. Edward Levinson.


Move to "Reading Performance"

Monday, December 11, 2023

English poetry journal "Mariposa" in its Winter Issue 2023 issue #49 published a Tan-Ku set that Deborah and I weaved together.



Through the Torii Gate

Deborah P Kolodji
Mariko Kitakubo

light through trees
a swallowtail follows me
on the garden path (D)

waking up
without anxiety
this morning,
parents are smiling
in my dreams (M)

Friday, December 1, 2023

In its Yearbook 2023, Tanka Kenkyu introduced "DISTANCE."
It is a collection of sequences of Tanka and Haiku published by Shabda Press, Inc. in April 2023.

It is my seventh book and is very special to me.

The book is a selection of our collaborative work of sequences of Tanka and Haiku, which Ms. Deborah P. Kolodji and I wrote together during 2019 - 2022 when the COVID pandemic divided us between the Pacific.

We named this new style of poetry literature "Tan-Ku." We also received an unexpected honor from the California Senate State and Assembly for this book.

I am deeply grateful for Tanka Kenkyu Inc.'s attention to this collection.


About the list of poetry collections and poetry books for the year 2023
(i) The list covers those published between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.
(ii) The order of the descriptions is author, book title, edition type, page number, price (excluding tax), and place of publication.




Monday, November 27, 2023

On Friday, November 17, I participated in a poetry reading event at Garigari, a live bar in Ikenoue, Tokyo.

Ms. Joy Waller, the co-organizer of the event, also offered me the opportunity to be a performer at the launch party for the latest issue of Tokyo Poetry Journal, a poetry magazine for which she serves as Co-Editor. It was a great honor, and I am very grateful.

Although it was the first time for me to submit my work to the journal, my dream of being published in the journal also came true. Thank you very much to the editors for featuring my English tanka works.


Move to "Reading Performance"

Monday, November 20, 2023