Cover Blurb: A Samurai’s Pink House (Inanna, 2017)
The poems in this brilliant new collection draw you on a haunting journey through time and Japanese culture. Cherry trees, rice fields, blossoms, moonlight, teardrops of rain and dew evoke a Zen beauty of discipline and quiet obedience. Sensuousness abounds: the scents of “spring and sea salt”, “sake and green / tea”, “seawater cologne”, “salmon and tuna”; the sounds of “shamisen strings”, “roar / of cicadas and fireflies”; even tastes “of seaweed and sake”, “a salty kiss”. But undercutting this deceptively tranquil surface are private suffering, as personified in poems recounting the passion and eventual subjugation of female samurai in the 17th century and the wanderings of master haiku poet Basho, the secret homosexual longings of a kabuki performer, a geisha’s loneliness, and the homesickness of a transplanted modern day teacher. Writing with a deft and delicate touch, throughout Sonia Saikaley skilfully balances the beautiful and the sad. Reading these seemingly quiet, yet so poignant depictions is like tasting exquisite confections with a surprise tang of bitters at the centre. A Samurai’s Pink House is a book I shall delight in returning to again and again.