Friday 20 January 2023

Review by Jon Wilkins of "Sing me down from the dark" by Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana

How do you describe a ten-year stay in Japan, including two marriages, then a homecoming, and all the problems that cross-cultural relationships can bring? You write a poetry collection called Sing me down from the dark and this is just what Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana has done in an original and beautiful way.

This, however, is more than a mere collection of random thoughts and feelings. It is a complex series of emotions remembered in various poetic forms, each caught to highlight the poet's innermost thoughts and share them with us by laying herself bare to us, the reader. She exposes her own raw emotions and draws us into a period of her life that she has to share, to make sure none of it is forgotten and that every incident had a meaning, had a point in the schematic of her world.

It is a love story in all its forms, as wife, as mother, as woman. The banality of Japanese communal life is shared, with the expectations that come with it and we see how Corrin-Tachibana yearns to conform yet escape the life she finds herself in. What exactly does her life mean? Should she settle for what she has or should she take flight and find freedom from the suffocation she feels? The different forms her poems take seem to show this feeling that she is cornered, at bay, trapped between different cultures. Which should she choose? She tries each form, searching for an answer and by the end of the collection does she actually find what she wants?

There is a clash between East and the West, as Japanese and European cultures clash and merge as all the issues of daily life confront us. We are unsettled by the notion of being at home, and away from home, in love - finding true love in the birth of her son, but is this as totally fulfilling as it should be?

This is a wonderful collection. My eyes were opened to the Japanese culture and the way Corrin-Tachibana has tried to become part of it, while also resisting it as a way of staying true to herself. Enjoy the poems. You won't find anything like them for a long time. The poetic vision is perfect, we can all learn so much if we open up to her words and to her world. Corrin-Tachibana shows we are all the same, but all different. We can search for love but where do we find it? Can we ever find it?

About the reviewer
Jon Wilkins is 67. He is married to the gorgeous Annie with two wonderful sons. He was a teacher for twenty years, a Waterstones bookseller and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously. Nowadays he takes notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University. He has had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council and several pieces published traditionally as well as on-line. He has had poems in magazines and anthologies, art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station. He loves writing poetry. For his MA, he wrote a crime novel, Utrecht Snow. He followed it up with Utrecht Rain, and is now writing a third part. He is currently writing a crime series, Poppy Knows Best, set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s. Next year he takes up the UEA Crime Fiction Creative Writing MA. The game's afoot!

You can read more about Sing me down from the dark by Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana on Creative Writing at Leicester here

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