By Caroline Smith and Brian Peachey
For West Australian poet and writer Andrew Lansdown, Japan has long been a subject of fascination, for its literary styles, its history and landscape – and this is something he draws on again in his most recent release, Kyoto Sakura Tanka.
Published in 2016 by Rhiza Press, the book reflects on Japan’s ancient capital through visual image and the ‘tanka’, a genre of classic poetry. The book itself comes in an elegantly-crafted hardback edition, making it a perfect gift.
Lansdown – who was born in the wheatbelt town of Pingelly, and studied at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) and Murdoch University – has been an award-winning poet since the 1980s.
He won the inaugural Western Australian Premier’s Book Award (originally called the Western Australian Week Literary Award) for his poem ‘For Philip’ in 1982, and went on to win the WA Premier’s Book Award three years later for his poetry collection, Windfalls.
His collection, Fontanelle, was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Award in 2005, and his writing has been memorialised publically by the City of South Perth, which included his poem ‘Happiness (From Between Glances)’ in the Poetry Park established in 2008 at Como’s Neil McDougal Park. The work is printed on a two-metre free-standing Perspex panel, the first of twelve panels that line the park’s ‘Walk of Honour’ for Western Australian poets.
Unusual for contemporary poets, Lansdown writes from a position of joy and wonder, and from the first has included a Christian element in his writing.
Kyoto Sakura Tanka is his fifteenth published collection of poetry and his first published collection of photography, and continues his fascination with Japan which was evident in the 1996 collection, Abiding Things, which featured a poem ‘The Japanese Gardener’, and in the ‘Five Haiku’ included in his 1991 book, The Grasshopper Heart.
In the latter book, he arranges five lines from Isaiah 55:12, in a style which comes close to a tanka – which is similar to a haiku but contain more syllables and use simile, metaphor and personificaton.
Kyoto Sakura Tanka comes in hardback form, and contains 144 pages. It can be purchased at a cost of $25.95 through Andrew Lansdown’s website by Clicking Here or by Cheque – Post cheque to: 12 Camden Street, Dianella, WA 6059, or by Direct deposit – to BSB: 736062; Account No.: 871671. People can also email their details to firstname.lastname@example.org.