Writing Across Cultures

First published in Woodnotes #23, Winter 1994, page 52.

Writing Across Cultures: A Handbook on Writing Poetry & Lyrical Prose by Edna Kovacs. Blue Heron Press, 1994, 168 pages, paperback, 6 by 9 inches. $11.95 in bookstores. You may remember Edna Kovacs from her brief haiku book, Mandalas, published by Amelia Press in 1993, and from her crisp haiku that appear now and then in the haiku journals. With Writing Across Cultures, Edna makes a much bigger splash, introducing students and teachers to the joys and variety of cross-cultural poetry. This book is part anthology, part exercise book, and an accessible inspiration for writing poetry in many forms. After a section on “Warming Up,” Edna discusses a great many poetic forms from around the world in alphabetical order, with special attention paid to acrostics, cinquains, ghazals, haiku, limericks, linked verse, tanka, and Zen poetry. The book’s scope is much broader than just these topics, however. As a multicultural educational text, it deserves praise for the special attention it gives haiku and related forms of poetry, even if the introductions to each form are necessarily brief and simplified. A teacher herself, Edna draws on the rich resources of her classroom experience in presenting the poetry in this recommended book.