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Links to My Books

First Winter Rain: Selected Tanka from 2006-2010.

Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems, free and formal verse.

Hidden River: Haiku, my second collection of haiku.

Eight Shades of Blue: Haiku, my first haiku collection.

Fire Blossoms: The Birth of Haiku Noir.

Port of Call and Other Poems, free verse chapbook, my first.

Three Odd Tales, three short stories.

Links to Some of My Collaborative Works:
the five “New Wave Tanka Anthologies”
and the MET Press / TSA “Tanka Teachers Guide”

The Five Hole Flute: Modern English Tanka in Sequences and Sets, edited by Denis M. Garrison and Michael McClintock.

The Dreaming Room: Modern English Tanka in Collage and Montage Sets, edited by Michael McClintock and Denis M. Garrison.

Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, edited by Denis M. Garrison and Michael McClintock.

Streetlights: Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka, edited by Michael McClintock and Denis M. Garrison.

Ash Moon Anthology: Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka, edited by Alexis Rotella and Denis M. Garrison.

Tanka Teachers Guide, the seminal guidance for teaching tanka poetry and writing, free to copy, print, and use. (See its BOOK DESCRIPTION below.)



First Winter Rain: Selected Tanka from 2006-2010

First Winter Rain is Denis M. Garrison’s first collection of tanka. The Introduction to the collection is by M. Kei.

“What I am struck by is the depth and openness of Garrison’s work, and a sincerity that raises his art high above the playing field of today’s tanka in English. I hadn’t hoped to find such a wealth of tanka in one book by a single author this season or next! First Winter Rain holds a breadth of felt experience you owe to yourself.” —Larry Kimmel, editor of Winfred Press

“First Winter Rain is a welcome new poetry collection from a master of the tanka form in English. Between these covers we find individual tanka grouped in 8 themed chapters, where Denis Garrison’s poetic virtuosity ranges across passionate love lyrics, strongly resonant tanka of place, and elegiac mood pieces. There are lush poems of peace, despairing poems of war; poems of hopefulness, poems of resignation; Garrison expresses succinctly the yin and yang of life, often within the one tanka:

I am a speck
On this rock in this ocean
Lost in endless space
But for this puppy I hold
I am a warm breathing world

“Following the individual poems there is a long final chapter of enthralling tanka presented in sets, strings and sequences, within which each piece stands alone and also resonates with the next. There could be no better description of the brilliance of Garrison’s work, as showcased in First Winter Rain, than this tanka which appears in its first chapter:

These unstrung beads
Each is a work of art by itself
Fragments of a piece
But each a thing of beauty —
They know the snowflake’s secret

—Amelia Fielden M.A., translator and poet, Australia

“Wide-ranging in subject matter, restless and probing in their inquiry of the human heart, Denis Garrison’s tanka are somewhere near the fulcrum of all his efforts in poetry as editor, poet, and essayist. This generous, good man gifts us all with a lifetime of experience in the highs and lows of a well-traveled soul.” —Michael McClintock, President, Tanka Society of America

“Poet, editor and publisher, Denis M. Garrison, is a key contributor to the development of tanka in English. His practical encouragement of other writers is widely recognised and appreciated. First Winter Rain: Selected Tanka from 2006–2010 charts his personal journey on the tanka pathway with poems that successfully explore the potential of this diminutive genre to capture the essence of all that is of moment to the human heart.” —Beverley George, Editor: Eucalypt: a tanka journal

“Denis M. Garrison, well known as the publisher of Modern English Tanka Press, is an accomplished poet in his own right. In First Winter Rain, he brings together selected tanka to tell a story, a story which looks very much like his own, but which isn’t quite autobiography. The poems carry the deep marks of war and tragedy that must of necessity evolve into a keen appreciation for beauty; without beauty there can be no redemption from the horrors of life. Garrison’s details are so vivid and so accurate, that I, who also spent my childhood in Iowa and my adulthood in Maryland, can recognize his places without being told. When he travels foreign sands where I have never trod, I am not lost in an alien landscape but find the same vivid attention to detail gives me a visceral view as if I were riding in the backseat of his memories. First Winter Rain is proof that tanka is not a hothouse exotic but a thoroughly naturalized American literary form that can thrive in the most demanding environments.” —M. Kei, author of Slow Motion: The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack

“Praise for First Winter Rain — It’s risky to publish 252 poems gathered from the prior five years of composition. With such a high number written in such a short time, chances are that a lot of weak work will sneak through a screening process that still needs fine-tuning. But, this doesn’t seem to be the case here. Almost all of his tanka burst with the energy of the everyday and the experimentation of a curious mind.” —George Swede, editor of Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America, is a poet, editor and educator, the author of 31 collections of poetry.

ISBN 978-1-935398-21-9. Trade paperback. 168 pages.
ISBN 978-1-935398-29-5. Hard cover with dust jacket.
ISBN 978-1-935398-31-8. Trade paperback 3rd edition.


Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems is the well-received collection of Denis M. Garrison’s formal and free verse written over the last four decades. Selected for their “Best Books for Summer Reading, 2008″ by The Montserrat Review.

“Contained in Sailor in the Rain are some of the best poems of an American original, Denis M. Garrison. They are gleaned from previous collections large and small, and are presented in a carefully ordered narrative structure having a beginning, middle, and an end. … Garrison’s sense of place and region, and his consciousness and reckoning of good and evil, order and chaos, truth and deceit, are all essential to his character as a poet, and that character relates his work to a diverse group of poets who span several centuries and have similar interests and thematic pre-occupations. His ‘Confessio’ might have been written by John Donne, as part of that poet’s series of ‘Holy Sonnets.’ Garrison’s haunted and haunting landscapes relate to similar metaphysical elements found in the earliest American poets and prose masters: Edward Taylor and Philip Freneau, Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Garrison’s concerns with symbolic argument and imagery (including the ambiguous and macabre) find their precursors in Edgar Alan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, and Stephane Mallarme—the latter, also, for a shared fascination for the interplay and revelations of style and content that a poet may achieve when pursuing the essence of invented, perfect poetic forms.

“In their unfolding and wingbeat, the poems in this collection bear the shape and trajectory of a well-examined life, the environments that have weathered Garrison’s journey, the people, places and ideas he has encountered—figuratively, the shells he has held to his ear to plumb the mysteries of sound, silence, and the oceanic infinities that roll in waves upon the human heart, as upon a beach through the seasons, bringing the tides that shape and re-shape ourselves, our perceptions, and the ground we stand on. … Garrison is no castaway, … but is a poet who speaks in full sympathy with all who, like Crusoe, have spent much of their time isolated from the noise and clamor of a noisy, clamorous world, who have found themselves and, having returned to the world from afar, bring to and express in their chosen art the merits of their own private struggle—the wisdom of self-discovery, the strength of self-knowledge, and the confidence to speak with authority about those everlasting things that carry us into the next day, and the day after that. … Garrison’s engagement with the world and the idioms of idea and emotion is versatile and inventive, neither easy nor safe. The structures he has used to shape and hold his thought are neither arbitrary nor predictable, but always exploratory. Occasionally, we must run to catch up or, caught in a close-up that takes our breath away, we must pause, stand back from the scene, and recover a perspective that permits us the luxury and comfort of objective distance.” —Michael McClintock, in his Preface to Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems.

ISBN 978-0-6151-8555-2. Trade paperback. 136 pages.
ISBN 978-0-6151-8497-5. Hardcover with dust jacket. 136 pages.
ISBN 978-1-935398-10-3. Pocket paperback. 136 Pages.
ISBN 978-1-935398-32-5. Trade paperback 4th edition.


Hidden River is Denis M. Garrison’s second collection of haiku, arranged in a traditional seasonal pattern.

“Denis Garrison is an excellent poet; a breath of fresh air. He understands haiku and, as an editor of literary journals and the owner of a small book publishing firm, he realizes that, like any art form, one must pay their dues; putting in time, study, practice, and hard work. … With a fresh voice, Garrison writes poetry that resonates, doesn’t “tell all,” and lingers in the mind after being read. … Garrison does not adhere to a strict 5/7/5 syllable formula. … Added to the haiku are good metre, more than one layer of meaning, and a unique way of viewing life. … This is the genius of haiku: using an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered painting without “telling all.” Garrison does this well. His poetic canvasses only look simple. … however, level after level of meaning unfolds, calling to mind the way tones, tints, and simple brush strokes bring to life a sumi-e painting. Denis Garrison writes beautiful haiku. I recommend his new book, Hidden River, to all who appreciate the genre and to those who want a good model to emulate in their journey to becoming a better poet. His book will leave an indelible print in your mind.” —Robert D. Wilson, Managing Editor of Simply Haiku at (from his Foreword to Hidden River)

“One wonders when they read the name of a man or even if they see his picture, what is he truly like? In my opinion, the best way to know a man is to study in depth what he puts down on paper. Denis Garrison would easily be recognized for the outdoorsman that he is by his haiku. Words and phrases such as: ‘hidden river, plowed field, leafing orchards, hunger moon, old tin cup, rabbit spoor, river stones, bridle paths, spring-fed creek, woodpecker’s vibrato, fragrant hay bales, sparrow tracks in fresh snow, field of ripe pumpkins, scorched dirt, cowpies, frog song and fireflies, woodcutter’s cabin’ and so forth, appear throughout his book. Denis skillfully gives readers a strong but pleasant taste of nature in this fine presentation via the many outstanding haiku found around every bend of his ‘Hidden River.’” —an’ya, Editor of TSA Ribbons and moonset journal

ISBN 978-0-6151-3825-1. Trade paperback. 184 pages.
ISBN 978-1-935398-11-0. Pocket paperback. 104 pages.


Fire Blossoms: The Birth of Haiku Noir is the definitive volume on haiku noir, from the editor of Haiku Noir, Haiku Harvest, and Ambrosia: Journal of Fine Haiku.

“Light a candle while you read FIRE BLOSSOMS: The Birth of Haiku Noir; it is a courageous piece of writing, one that is not for the faint of heart. Carl Jung cautioned how important it is to embrace the dark side of life. Garrison has walked into the shadows of war and chaos with eyes open wide, not afraid to confront the ghosts and the cadavers that most of us sweep under the carpet.” —Alexis Rotella, award-winning poet and author of Ouch: Senryu that Bite

ISBN 978-0-6151-9446-2. Trade paperback. 104 pages. February 2008.
ISBN 978-1-935398-13-4. Pocket paperback. 84 pages.
ISBN 978-1-935398-33-2. Trade paperback 3rd edition.


Eight Shades of Blue is Denis M. Garrison’s first collection of haiku, haiku noir, and crystallines. These exquisite poems prove once again that the best things come in small packages. From awesome beauty to stark terror; from the heights of joy to the depths of despair; all in gem-like tiny poems! Treat yourself to these traditional haiku, fascinating haiku noirs, and lovely crystallines. Also included are four articles on haiku and the prosody of crystallines. Denis M. Garrison, the longtime editor of Haiku Harvest, Haiku Noir, and Haiku Cycles, and co-editor of Ku Nouveau, is the creator of the crystalline form, a western haiku in a seventeen-syllable couplet.

“A book to be read again and again. Once again this author has produced a beautifully crafted book that is composed of a balance of instructional essays on poetic forms such as haiku, haiku noir and crystallines followed by numerous examples of each form. This is a valuable book for both the novice and the expert; especially anyone interested in shorter poetic forms.” —Jim Doss, Editor of Loch Raven Review

ISBN 1-4116-2387-8. 1st edition, February 2005.
ISBN 1-4116-3226-5. 2nd edition, May 2005.
ISBN 978-0-6151-4798-7. 3rd edition. Trade paperback. 96 pages. May 2007.


Port of Call and Other Poems is Denis M. Garrison’s first chapbook of free verse (1975). It went through three editions but is now out of print as a separate title. The poems are included in Garrison’s later collection, Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems.

Port of Call and Other Poems First Edition (The Caliban Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1975). Triptych in Stone; Herb Lady; Figurines; Rice and Rain; Aqua Vitae; Port of Call; Short Cut; For A.R. (Adrienne Rich); Day Dance; Sacred Valley; Staples; Pantheon; Affinity; Swan Song (for D.L.R.); Port of Call and Other Poems (chapbook by DMG) in PORT OF CALL AND OTHER POEMS and DESPERATE DELIGHTS which included Desperate Delights, a chapbook by Barry Redmond.

Port of Call and Other Poems (1st Ed.) (The Caliban Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1975). No ISBN.
Port of Call and Other Poems [(2nd Ed.) ISBN: 1-4116-2390-8. Feb. 2005.] [(3rd Ed.). ISBN: 1-4116-3246-X / 978-1-4116-3246-2.] (Lulu Press, Morrisville, N. Carolina. May 2005).


Three Odd Tales is Denis M. Garrison’s chapbook of short stories. It includes The Far Room, The Rape of Luke McMahon, and First Fall. After two editions, it is now out of print.

The Far Room was published first in Talisman (1972), the literary magazine of Towson State College (now Towson University) in Maryland. Both The Rape of Luke McMahon and First Fall were first published in Talisman (1973). They were collected in Three Odd Tales (1st Ed.).

ISBN 1-4116-2462-9. (Lulu Press, February 2005) 1st edition.
ISBN 1-4116-3292-9 / 978-1-4116-3292-3 . (Lulu Press, May 2005) 2nd edition.




The Five-Hole Flute: Modern English Tanka in Sequences and Sets was edited by Denis M. Garrison and Michael McClintock. It affords the reader an impressively compact and rich overview of modern tanka, cinquain, and haiku, and of the changing shape and power of these forms when arranged in sets and sequences. The works in this exemplary collection offer a glimpse into the extraordinary diversity and sometimes startling richness of the modern short poem in English, and disclose a fascinating but hitherto concealed dimension of literary creativity: the integration of autonomous short poems into new, coherent, interactive patterns that break free of the conventional stanzaic forms of longer narrative, epic, and lyrical verse. Several techniques are illustrated—including anaphora, thematic linking, antiphonal response, and more—demonstrating the manifold possibilities for grouping tanka, cinquain, and haiku in compositions that convey an expanded poetic experience, a compound literature having broad scope and unlimited potential for dealing with the many layers and complexities of human experience, thought, and emotion. Resonant with the breadth and vision of literary collage, mural, and existential mandala, the short form poets of the twenty-first century reveal cultural and artistic roots not only in the ancient Japanese waka/tanka tradition, but equally in the subjective realism of the Impressionist painters and the short works of such Imagist poets as Adelaide Crapsey, the early Ezra Pound, T. E. Hulme, Amy Lowell, H.D, and Wallace Stevens.

The Five-Hole Flute is a book beautiful in every way, the promise of the covers’ enticing colors being richly fulfilled on page after page. In this treasure of magnificent poems the reader is delighted to discover so many approaches—some direct, some subtle—to the intertwining of five-line insights, observations, revelations. The collection carries the modern English tanka several major steps along its path to recognition as an essential and valued part of contemporary Western literature.” —Carol Purington

The Dreaming Room: Modern English Tanka in Collage and Montage Sets was edited by Michael McClintock and Denis M. Garrison as a companion piece to their earlier anthology, The Five-Hole Flute: Modern English Tanka in Sequences and Sets. The Dreaming Room provides further examples and explorations into the literature of tanka collage and montage sets—a compound literature having broad scope and unlimited potential for dealing with the many layers and complexities of human experience, thought, and emotion. As “Queen” of short form poetry in English, the contemporary tanka is seen again to lend its shape and rhythms meaningfully to diverse viewpoints, philosophies, and the human drama.

Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka was edited by Denis M. Garrison and Michael McClintock. Landfall deals with rural life; it is about the lands we live in, the highlands and the lowlands, prairies and forests, deserts and wetlands, farmlands and wilderness, the vast continental interiors and the lands bordering the seas, and the waters of the earth. As such, it is inevitably a book about ourselves. Through tanka, the short poetry of our time, this book is intended to rediscover the mood, temper, and diversity of the infinitely varied and nuanced places where we live our lives, and to reacquaint the reader with all those landscapes that have imprinted us with their forms and colors, their scents and sounds, and that have their parallels in each of us, in our consciousness and spirit. Every generation makes anew its own landfall, discovering for itself its special, abiding relationship to the natural world. With these fine tanka, pastoral poems of a new kind for a new day, the greatly prized moment of making landfall becomes, also, an irrevocable moment of personal epiphany.

Streetlights: Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka was edited by Michael McClintock and Denis M. Garrison. From the back cover . . . “A companion anthology to Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (Modern English Tanka Press, 2007), Streetlights goes beyond the customary polemics of ‘urban hell’ literature to convey the human dimensions of life in the city, town, and suburban ‘forest’—the tones, moods, attitudes and emotional velocities of the present day . . . The poems found here weave into their lyrics the places and things of modern city life—its harmonies and dissonance, its quiet sanctuaries and noisy intersections, its headlines, politics, popular culture, and enduring issues about who we are and where we might be going . . . Fully exhibiting the power and range of the tanka as a short poem in English, here are song and image that may stand beside the great urban poetry of Whitman and Hart Crane, Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance and the Beat Generation.” — Michael McClintock, from “A Short Preface for Streetlights

Ash Moon Anthology: Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka was edited by Alexis Rotella and Denis M. Garrison. Ash Moon Anthology explores and celebrates the later years of life: the “golden years,” to some, and far from it, to others. Senior men and women have a perspective on life that cannot be achieved except by enduring the passage of several decades. Just as youth and the fullness of maturity are celebrated for their special characteristics, so should be our later years. Ash Moon Anthology includes poems about all aspects of aging, both the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows; poems that embody the humor, insight, and wisdom of our elders and the ways in which we age with grace and even elegance. This is a tremendous collection of nearly nine hundred poems on aging from 97 poets on five continents. It will bring its readers enjoyment, pleasure, an occasional laugh, and perhaps a few tears. It sheds new light on the experience of aging.

Praise for Ash Moon Anthology:

“‘May you be awake one moment before you die’ The Buddha said. If readers can absorb the joy and the intensity of this book, they will be more alive than ever before in their lives. I am stunned by the precision of emotions and the variety of feelings. I want to read one page each day, to be in touch with everything that is truly, vividly alive.” —Grace Cavalieri, Producer/host, The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress.

“The Zen aesthetic of wabi-sabi demonstrates the recognition that things are often more beautiful, more treasured, more emotionally significant when they are somewhat broken, slightly worn out, aged by human use, subject to the natural laws of decay or uniquely unfinished. In the Ash Moon Anthology, contemporary tanka poets explore the aesthetics of aging, the wabi-sabi of the human experience. These tanka examine the feelings and psychological insights that can only come with a lifetime of surviving into old age, when we recognize the impermanence and transitory nature of our bodies, our minds, our selves. These English tanka of aging celebrate and explore a wide range of moments conveying the feelings of being fully alive in our imperfect, broken, unfinished bodies, minds and souls.” —Dr. Randy Brooks, Millikin University.

“Age. It happens to us all. Advertisements inform us that we can be sexual athletes at ninety, if only we buy the magic cure and follow the exercise guru’s advice. Yet the evidence of our own lives is decidedly more human, more problematic, and full of petty perfidies. Age is not simply the prolongation of our youth with the help of a little dye to hide the grey hair but a fundamental process of transformation. We change, and as we change, we are haunted or enlivened by the past we carry with us. Understanding all that we are and have experienced is difficult enough, but communicating it to others is even harder, especially when the gap is dramatic as the one separating today’s youth from today’s elders. This is the chasm which the poets of Ash Moon cross. Nearly a hundred in number, they are themselves aging or the care-givers and companions of elders. With unblinking honesty they record their age as it is lived—despair and dereliction alongside grace and humor—and what emerges is a true portrait of age with all its awkward complexities. Readers of Ash Moon will find all these poems written in a fitting form, namely, ‘tanka,’ the eldest of poetic forms. The oldest continuously anthologized poetry in the world (compared to which the venerable sonnet is a mere stripling), tanka has been the vehicle by which poets ancient and modern have given voice to the myriad beauties and burdens of their lives. The result is a series of snapshots without commentary, allowing the readers to directly experience the poets’ vision. They will find much that resonates with them, and much to reflect on. The ash moon hangs over all our heads.” —M. Kei, Editor of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, Editor-in-chief of Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka of 2008, and author of Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay.

ISBN 978-0-6151-9641-1. March 2008. Trade paperback.
ISBN 978-0-6151-9642-8. March 2008. Hardcover with dust jacket.



Tanka Teachers Guide, edited by Denis M. Garrison, is a seminal teaching resource. It includes articles by leading tanka poets. A free 5.3 MB PDF ebook version is available for download.

The Tanka Teachers Guide is a public service of Modern English Tanka Press in cooperation with the Tanka Society of America. It contains primary materials and resources about tanka poetry which educators and students may copy without seeking permission. Modern English Tanka Press is dedicated to tanka education, welcomes innovative uses of its print and online resources, and wants to facilitate the use of its publications to the maximum extent feasible by educators at every level of school and university studies. Educators, without individually seeking permission from the publisher, may use MET Press publications, online digital editions and print editions, as primary or ancillary teaching resources.



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