by Thelma Mariano
Jeannette Ward has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies,
and her work has been translated into French, Croatian and Japanese.
Her poems in A Frayed Red Thread are reminiscent of the passionate tanka of Heian women in Japan (794-1185). In the introduction, Laura Maffei, editor of American Tanka, explains how the tradition of this sensual poetry has been carried into the West and is followed in this book.
Illustrations by Jeanne Emrich are interspersed throughout, enhancing the evocative beauty of the tanka, which are written in contemporary form. These black and white ink drawings reflect the elegance of Japanese art while depicting an aspect of nature mentioned in the accompanying poems - such as pine needles, lotus or magnolia blossoms. The cover art, also by Ms. Emrich, is based on Rodin’s The Kiss.
In this sequence of poignant tanka we are pulled through the gamut of emotion of being in love - from the intensity of longing, to the throb of passion, to feelings of loss and sadness.
poet succeeds in linking the heart-felt emotion in these tanka to the splendour
of the natural world around her:
how long, you ask
late night ring –
At the end of the book an allusion is made to the ephemeral nature of love and even of mortal existence, emphasized by repetition of this poem:
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