Slow Growing Ivy: A Review of David Terelinck’s Tanka . . .


a shaded corner
in the hospice garden
— slow growing ivy
as if there is all
the time in the world

–David Terelinck, Slow Growing Ivy

Reading David Terelinck’s poetry makes me feel as if there is all the time in the world–or at least enough to savor this, his second book of tanka. Every poem in the collection is an affirmation of what it means to be human, and every poem brings the reader closer to the poet’s redoubtable spirit–providing a window into a world filled with love, loss, resilience and humor. Whether reflecting upon death, as in

the mellow notes
from a stilling vesper bell–
and when god is done
how shall I fill
these wingless hours . . .

or celebrating the mystery and power of romance,

the pearls
of Cassiopeia spilled
across the sky . . .
a nightjar calls from the tree
where we carved our initials

the poet’s love of both language and nature draws the reader into a world that is tender but never maudlin or overly sentimental. It is clear from reading this collection of 115 individual tanka (followed by a handful-and-a-half of tanka sequences and several “prose journeys”) that Terelinck’s voice is a mature one–and I mean that in the best possible way. His five-line poems tell stories based on experience, pathos, understanding, and a life well-lived. Take, for example,

a drone of bees
in summer lavender
trailing our fingers
through slow-running waters
and childhood memories


black pines
in Bashō’s garden —
what twists
and turns await
on my narrow road

There are several tanka in this collection that illuminate the poet’s travels, many of them lighthearted as well as sensual, such as

then the coolness
of Egyptian sheets . . .
scent of dusk
and your skin tasting
of the land of spices


how late
the coming of spring
Salzburg nocklern
served by a waiter with eyes
bluer than tomorrow

Others provide further insight into Terelinck’s explorations of the world he inhabits, like this one

we find comfort
in slow-turned pages
and spinning globes . . .
year in, year out
the constancy of us

These are just a few of the many memorable poems to savor in Slow Growing Ivy. I could go on and on, citing tanka from this collection that I know I will return to again and again. For now, though, I’ll end with a simple thank you to David for the gift of his words, . . . and the comfort of “paginated friends.”

To purchase a copy of Slow Growing Ivy, contact David for details via e-mail at:

About Margaret Dornaus

I’m a writer and a teacher, as well as a haiku-doodler. I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder. My work as a travel writer has appeared in publications from The Dallas Morning News to the Robb Report. You can find examples of my travel writing–as well as excerpts from a travel memoir I’m working on–at my other WordPress site, Travelin’ On. What more than that do you need to know? Only that I started this blog with an eye toward collaboration. Got a haiku? Send it my way. . . . I’m all about new visions & voices. Best, Margaret
This entry was posted in David Terelinck, Haiku, Haiku-doodle, Tanka and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Slow Growing Ivy: A Review of David Terelinck’s Tanka . . .

  1. Van Brock says:

    You keep expanding. Congrats. Looks good.

    Van K. Brock

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