Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3

A Thousand Reasons: Tanka by Pamela A. Babusci
by Pamela A. Babusci
A Review by Randy Brooks


What is it we all seek more than anything else? Oh yes, to love, to be loved, to remember love, to have love, to know love. So what more could we ask of a book of contemporary English tanka than an honest portrayal of this ultimate aim of being human. In A Thousand Reasons Pamela Babusci accepts love as her motivation to write tanka. These are not easy love songs but the real thing: desire, loss, hope, fear, wishes, regret, anticipation, touch, deep friendship, scars, hurt, joy, dreams, sadness—the whole gamut of love.

The title poem is an equation:

a thousand reasons
to leave him
a thousand reasons
to stay . . .
withering bamboo

But there is no solution to this equation. We are so analytical weighing our thousand reasons, but finally there is only the living thing—a bamboo plant withering. I see this bamboo plant as one of those pair of bamboo shoots in a small vase on a kitchen table. Perhaps they've been shaped into a heart? Who will care for the bamboo plant? Who will nurture it so that it grows and thrives.

chrysanthemum moon
i peel off another layer
of sorrow
that nobody
will notice

Of course the poet notices. Reading Babusci's collection, I get the sense of reading a poetry journal. Her tanka are written with a direct authentic voice which places them in the traditions of confessional poetry—these poems are autobiographical and do not shirk away from the inner emotional struggles of the poet. This is a no-secrets collection of heartfelt experiences and realizations.

bringing a pot of coffee
& cigarettes
to my mother's grave
we have never spoken
so honestly

Pamela Babusci is an excellent poet, fully in control of her lines and phrasing to create a natural conversational style. Her words are not forced but flow naturally to create a sense of spontaneous expression. Most of her tanka are written with shorter lines and a subtle turn of emphasis, but she does not break language into bits and pieces presenting each tanka as a unified lyrical expression of emotion. She likes words and is a word-smith, but never lets them overtake the emotional significance of the tanka.

scattered lovers
never a husband
these cherry trees
raining petals
everywhere, nowhere

In this collection of tanka, Pamela A. Babusci delivers so many reasons to be fully alive, to be a seeker of love. May you be blessed with a copy of this book so that you too can enjoy her lyrical quest for love.


A Thousand Reasons: Tanka by Pamela A. Babusci
by Pamela A. Babusci
2009, 66 pp., perfect bound
$14 plus $2.50 postage.
Available from:
Pamela A. Babusci
150 Milford Street, Apt. 13
Rochester, NY 14615-1810