Modern English Tanka Press, also referenced as “MET Press” or simply “METP,” is a publisher of fine poetry of lasting value. From 2006 to 2011, we published a number of poetry journals, collections, and scholarly works with the purpose of popularizing the ancient Japanese poetic form, tanka and promoting the reading and composition of tanka in English. While tanka was our primary focus, we published poetry in other Japanese and western forms. Haiku and American cinquains were secondary specialities. This blog is the website and online presence of MET Press. Its mission is to continue our outreach in support of promotion of poetry and facilitation of its dissemination amongst both poets and readers. MET Press published a flagship journal entitled Modern English Tanka which we are making available here, in its entirety, to readers because it is out of print. MET Press also published five anthologies that were, at the time, considered a “new wave” in tanka in English. Those are also available here in their entirety on this blog. Feel free to read these and the other fine collections of tanka, haiku, and other poems online here and to download their PDF versions for yourself and to share with others. Read the Educational Use Notice that appears on the various books pages on this blog for more specific details.
MAJOR ACTORS IN THE MODERN ENGLISH TANKA PRESS PROJECTS
Top row, l-r: Denis Garrison, publisher and editor of MET. Michael McClintock, contributing editor of MET. M. Kei, major contributor and supporter. Bottom row, l-r: Alexis Rotella (“@TankaQueen”), major contributor and supporter. Karen McClintock, artist extraordinaire designed many covers for MET Press. Last but not least, Sanford Goldstein, the patriarch of tanka in English and a generous and patient mentor to us. Many other fine poets, writers, artists, editors, and contributors gave MET crucial support whom the constraints of space forbid us from including in this very short list. Read MET online to discover all these wonderful people.
ABOUT MODERN ENGLISH TANKA’S MISSION AND IMPACT
The following passage from the first editorial (2006) in Modern English Tanka quarterly journal summarizes the vision and mission of Modern English Tanka Press even today.
“Modern English Tanka is dedicated to publishing and promoting fine English tanka—both traditional and innovative verse of high quality—in order to assimilate the best of the Japanese uta/waka/tanka genres into a continuously developing English short verse tradition.
“For reasons too far-ranging to rehearse here, English long form poetry has fallen on hard times and many venues do not want to publish poems more than thirty lines in length. Perhaps as society accelerates, attention spans shorten concomitantly. In any case, “English poetry” is becoming synonymous with “English short verse.” The continuing trend towards popularity of Japanese short verse forms in English reflects this sea-change in English poetry. The haiku (and senryu) are so tightly condensed, however, that they do not serve very well the needs of English lyrical poetry.
“On the other hand, the cinquain form invented by Adelaide Crapsey, an Imagist poet, in the early twentieth century, has been developing into a respectable vehicle for the brief lyric. Insofar as some American cinquain (and some even briefer cinqku) have managed to embody that special tanka essence within their set forms, we are open to publishing tanka written in those forms. As any reader of this issue will see, we publish 5-7-5-7-7 tanka and briefer versions, even tanka verging upon free verse.
“It is not the goal of Modern English Tanka to either authoritatively define English tanka or sponsor any particular formula or template. Rather, it is our goal to give tanka poets a venue in which they can showcase their tanka—not just their show-stopper, standing ovation, fortissimo tours de force, but also their quieter, more subtle tanka, their strange tanka, their haunting tanka, their terrifying tanka; even their snarky kyoka belongs. We want to give space to the widest range of tanka because it is such a new form in English. Only by publishing the full panoply of English tanka, will we ever discover its particular place in the English lyric tradition. While there are many centuries to rest upon for Japanese tanka poets (and they, nevertheless, are continually innovating), English tanka is less than a century old and needs plenty of room to grow and find its feet in the English language.”
The following Bright Stars 3 editorial (2014) by the renowned Keibooks publisher and editor M. Kei estimates the impact of MET Press several years after the last issue of Modern English Tanka.
“Bright Stars Continues
“Bright Stars continues to excite new and old poets alike. They are trying out new ways of writing tanka, new ways of collaborating, and new ways of thinking about poetry. They are creating new relationships and forging connections across continents, pages, time, and issues. The reader who reads all the poems in each issue can see the sparks jumping from brain to brain and poem to poem. Bright Stars is not just an anthology, it’s a community, and not just a community, but a constellation. Each bright star contributes its own light, but together they form larger shapes that illuminate the universe.
“We are particularly pleased to publish tanka by Denis M. Garrison. Long time tanka readers will recognize him as the poet, editor, literary critic, and publisher of Modern English Tanka (MET), the seminal journal of the 21st century. Garrison’s wide open approach to tanka quashed the orthodoxies of the late 20th century and ushered in the modern era in English-language tanka. It was Garrison who pioneered print-on-demand (POD) technology combined with electronic editions that made tanka poetry both affordable and accessible. It was Garrison who mentored many of the 21st century crop of poets and editors, including yours truly. Two journals originally published by the MET Press, Atlas Poetica and Prune Juice, are still going strong.
“Bright Stars is the direct descendant of Denis Garrison’s pioneering work. If you enjoy it, you have him to thank for it. Without him, tanka poetry would be a very different world.”
The Publisher’s BIO
Denis M. Garrison was born in northern Iowa in 1946. His family and philosophical roots are in black dirt country. He has lived all over the United States, several years in Asia, in North Africa, and in Europe. He received his early schooling in Tokyo, Japan and in Sukiran and Naha, Okinawa. He served in Germany, Libya, Okinawa, and Taiwan while in the Air Force, and aboard the carrier USS Ranger in Viet Nam and in North Korea while in the Navy. He has worn many hats in a varied life: sailor, airman, mechanic, electrician, debt collector, sporting goods salesman, quality control technician, boiler-room operator, bureaucrat, small businessman, priest, poet, editor and publisher. A lifelong photographer and a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Denis was the first photographer admitted to the Maryland Federation of Art, with a black and white portfolio. Garrison lives on the Piedmont Plateau in northern Maryland where he devotes his full time to writing.
A 1974 university graduate in English Literature from Towson University, where he edited the literary magazine and chaired the Towson English Association, Denis taught creative writing for Johns Hopkins University’s Free University. His poetry is published internationally in Poetry Scotland, Ribbons, Magnapoets, Tangled Hair, Nightingale, Eucalypt, Simply Haiku, Moonset, Wisteria, Roadrunner, Trilopia, Verse Libre Quarterly, Stirring, World Haiku Review, Haiga Online, and many others, in print and online. His work may be found in the American Haiku Archives in Sacramento, California; the Poets House national poetry library in New York City, NY; and The Haiku Foundation online archives.
Garrison had published several poems and short stories, as well as an essay on dichotomies in the modern novel, before the 1975 publication of his poetry chapbook, Port of Call and Other Poems (1975). He has published six full-length books of poetry: Eight Shades of Blue (haiku, 2005), Hidden River (haiku, 2006), Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems (2007), Fire Blossoms: The Birth of Haiku Noir (2008), First Winter Rain: Selected Tanka from 2006-2010 (2010), and She Walked Among the Blossoms (2018). All six books, plus Port of Call and a chapbook of short stories (Three Odd Tales), are published in a compilation volume [Barefoot on the River Stones : The Collected Poems of Denis M. Garrison 1972–2018 (2018)]. He has edited the journals, Modern English Tanka, Concise Delight Magazine of Short Poetry, Ambrosia: Journal of Fine Haiku, Modern Haiga, Haiku Harvest, Ku Nouveau, Haiku Noir, Templar Phoenix, Haiku Cycles, Gunpowder River Poetry, Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, and Loch Raven Review. Together with Michael McClintock, Garrison edited the new wave tanka anthologies, The Five-Hole Flute: Modern English Tanka in Sequences and Sets, The Dreaming Room: Modern English Tanka In Collage and Montage Sets, Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, and Streetlights: Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka. Garrison also edited the Ash Moon Anthology: Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka together with Alexis Rotella.
Garrison has created three new poetic forms. The cinqku and crystalline tanka and haiku analogues have become popular forms for innovative tanka and haiku poets (see articles on both here). The longer nautilus form has a mathematical basis. Garrison’s poem, “Nautilus,” the prototype and namesake of the form (which is comprised of a Golden Mean stanza bracketed by ascending and descending Fibonacci sequences), has been included in an academic text, Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry. (Internationale Forschungen Zur Allgemeinen & Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft), ISBN 978-9042023703, by Marcia Birken & Anne C. Coon, faculty members at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
Garrison has served as a judge for poetry contests, especially cinquain and tanka contests.
Garrison has published a great many nonfiction items about national health insurance. He also compiled and published the first comprehensive set of Orthodox Old Roman Rite service books and several related books, and edited a denominational newsletter for more than a decade. He earned his doctorate in theology from St. Ephrem’s Institute for Eastern Christianity Studies in Solna, Sweden for his religious writings.