Walking the Fence:
Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks

by Randy Brooks


Randy Brooks. Walking the Fence: The Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks

ISBN 978-1-929820-18-4 • 2019
142 pages paperback • $25.00 US

publication date: June 18, 2019

Brooks Books is pleased to celebrate the publication of new boook, Walking the Fence: Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks featuring the best of my published tanka. I started writing tanka under the mentorship of Dr. Sanford Goldstein in 1977 and have continued until the present. I hope my tanka open up your own memories and a few smiles as you join me on my tanka journey, walking the fence.

I am not interested in writing tanka that plod along counting syllables. I don’t seek flashy words to show off my vocabulary. Nor do I craft tricky linguistic gymnastics to show off a mastery of twisted language. I am not interested in turning my tanka into word puzzles. I am also not interested in writing waka, following the refinements of stylized beauty and traditional tropes of the aristocratic traditions. I am not interested in writing tanka based on an algebra of short-long-short-long-long phrases. I am compelled to write tanka out of the Modernist traditions of Takuboku Ishikawa and Akiko Yosano. I want my tanka to be raw and spontaneous expressions of spiritual or psychological journeys written with a playful voice of authentic, caring conversation between contemporary friends.

~ Randy Brooks

Walking the Fence: Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks is an unassuming and intimate archive of family, faith, and desire. The speaker recognizes his fallibility while also confessing his vulnerability. From childhood on the Plains to dean’s meetings on college campus, Brooks’s tanka embody the humor and sensibility of Midwestern poetics.

~ Aubrie Cox Warner

ISBN 978-1-929820-18-4

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The tanka in Walking the Fence are not arranged chronologically, but rather clustered into seven arenas of human experience. (1) I open with “Coyote Pup,” a collection of tanka from my childhood memories of growing up in Western Kansas. (2) It has been a deeply rewarding pleasure to be a father and grandfather. I have always enjoyed writing about the joys, surprises and challenges of parenting, so these tanka are collected in the second section titled, “Charms for Parents.” (3) Dedicated to my lifelong companion and inspiring wife, Shirley, the third section is called, “Small of Her Back.” This section features tanka that explore love and romance. (4) The fourth section, “Dusty Old Bones,” features tanka about aging and growing older. It happens. (5) As a college professor, I have enjoyed many years as a teacher, scholar and academic leader. “Campus Rituals” is a small selection of tanka on writing and teaching. (6) I’ve included a few of the tanka from my online collection, Black Ant’s Journey to Japan, first published by Jane Reinhold at AHA Books. (7) The concluding section, “Walking the Fence,” gathers tanka from my spiritual journey—a chronicle of dreams, prayers and meditations.

Coyote Pup

me
and my dad
walk the ranch fences
mending everything
by spring

Charms for Parents

three charms
against the dark arts:
sweet thoughts
ridiculous
just a movie

Small of Her Back

Route 66
one mile, two
how many miles
till I’m back
with you?

Dusty Old Bones

the reach
of February light
who asked me
to carry these
bones so long

Campus Rituals

after the Christmas
cookie party
the deans meet
for the New Year
budget cuts

Walking the Fence

green tongues
rise up
speak warm words
that cannot be said
by just friends

SAVE THE DATE – 8/13/2019

The official release of Walking the Fence will be celebrated on August 13, 2019 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as part of the Tanka Monday events. This immediately follows Haiku North America 2019 events. I will be reading from the tanka collection and books will be available for signing!

Poetry Reading - Walking the Fence: The Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks
Monday, August 13, 2019
Winston-Salem, North Carolina