Pre-launch Book Release: Slow Growing Ivy, by David Terelinck

Slow Growing Ivy, by David TerelinckThis book is dedicated to my partner, Robert Miller. Slow Growing Ivy is his book as the title tanka comes from a sequence of the same name. It was written at the time when Rob was undergoing treatment for head & neck cancer. It is my way of saying thank you to him for the endless support he has given me as a tanka poet. (David Terelinck)

Welcome to Mandy’s Pages. As many of you know (and for those of you who don’t), author and poet David Terelinck completed his second book on tanka.  The first, Casting Shadows, was published in 2011.  This March, he releases his second book, Slow Growing Ivy.

Today, David talks about his book Slow Growing Ivy and shares details about his writing and publishing adventure. If you are still wondering, Slow Growing Ivy is set to release on March 30, this month.  Isn’t that amazing?

Mandy:  Congratulations David.  You must be super-excited about your book, now that you have worked and completed your second. I have a great deal of appreciation for your effort and dedication – and for all the hard work that must have gone into this book. I want to be in your shoes someday, with a book on tanka of my own, but ... that can wait. (Grins). I hope you’re up for a rapid fire round, because I have a lot of questions for you ... which I hope you will be patient with and respond to. (Laughs) Okay, not rapid fire ... but a whole lot of questions!  

About Slow Growing Ivy: When did this project take form?  What inspired you to start this book?

David: Slow Growing Ivy first started life as a much smaller book with only 77 individual tanka, and under a different name. It began as There Shall Be Signs in late 2012 as part of the Snapshot Press book awards for tanka in the U.K. That competition called for unpublished tanka MS of up to 100 single tanka.

Although the MS did not win an award and was not picked up, the comments from the editor John Barlow were highly encouraging: “On a personal note I would just like to say how much I enjoyed There Shall Be Signs, both in terms of the poetry and the evident editorial care. There were many tanka in the manuscript that I would certainly like to consider for an appropriate anthology should the opportunity ever arise, and were I still editing Tangled Hair I would have been greatly encouraged to read some of the unpublished tanka in your manuscript in a submission. I wish you the all the very best in placing these poems and fully expect to encounter them again in the coming months.”

I viewed this feedback as a wonderful opportunity. I felt that there was sufficient encouragement here for me to create another full-sized collection with individual tanka, sequences and prose journeys; to self-publish again under my own imprint of Cedar Press. So a metamorphosis began. Some tanka were deleted, moved around in the book, re-written . . . new material was added on a regular basis. And all the while I was submitting tanka to journals and competitions. As those acceptances came back they were updated in the new manuscript. Eventually it simply evolved into what Slow Growing Ivy is today.

So is it safe to say it has been a work in progress?

It has essentially been a work in progress from mid to late 2012 to late 2013 when the manuscript as Slow Growing Ivy was finalised. There is much of myself in this collection. The tanka will reflect the recent journey of the last couple of years that have included my writing responsively with poets I had not written with in the past, being on the periphery of other people’s cancer journey, and the discover of my grandfather’s remains after he had been missing for fifty years. 

Completing a book is a huge task. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work and planning. Timing is everything when you have a huge project in mind and want to complete it.  Has this book gone as planned? Did you meet your deadline for publishing this book, or were there hurdles on the way?

Once I had moved into the space of knowing I was going to publish again, it fell into place like clockwork. I decided on a very relaxed publication time-frame as I did not want to rush the final result. I wanted time to pause and consider the contents, and ensure the book was visually appealing. It was all planned to fall into place with having the books in hand four weeks out from the scheduled launch date of 30th March 2014 at the NSW Writers’ Centre at Rozelle (Sydney).

If there was any hurdle it was only a small one concerning the printing of the cover. I have an excellent printer, FC Productions, only 10 minutes from my home. I have had a lovely relationship with them through my previous book, Casting Shadows, and also through the printing of Grevillea & Wonga Vine. They have also printed several books for Beverley George. They are always polite, responsive and very reasonable priced for authors interested in smaller print runs.

You mention a single hurdle – the printing of the cover.  Care to elaborate? 

This time I had decided, in consultation with my graphic designer, to go with a matt cello cover with a spot-gloss finish. FC Productions were not equipped for spot-gloss work and had to outsource this. They were so helpful and obliging with trying to locate someone who could do this for me. They eventually found someone who appeared willing, but seems this was not a sincere offer. They mucked us around so much with trying to obtain proof copies and being able to actually commit to printing the order, even though we agreed to all their terms.

I sense they actually expected us to say ‘no’ due to the extra costs they imposed on proofs and the like, and were afraid to admit they didn’t want the job after saying yes. Time was ticking away towards the end of February and we still could not get satisfaction. So we pulled the original idea and went with a full cello gloss that FC Productions could quite easily do themselves. However, on having the books in hand I am not at all disappointed. The end result looks fantastic with a full gloss cover and I couldn’t be happier.

So apart from that one small hurdle all else was plain sailing.

David TerelinckWhat do you feel, now that Slow Growing Ivy is published?

It means I can see and hold the physical outcome of the last 3 year’s work. Not having ever had children, I think it must sort of be the equivalent feeling of a father holding his newborn for the first time. There is a sense of elation and pride that I had a hand in creating this. My blood is coursing through these pages. And like all proud parents you count toes and fingers (pages) and make sure all the essential parts are there. And once you hold it in your hands, and see it is perfect in your eyes, you forget about the trials that may have cropped up during gestation and the labour.

Amazing! I would hardly have considered the comparison, but you are spot on, David. There is always a feeling of pride when realizing your blood flows through another, in this case, your book. Was there help along the way, encouragement, input, feedback ... support?

I still feel I owe so much to everyone who helped me with this book. It is not a book that was created solely by me. Without the input of countless people books simply do not exist. So I also feel very thankful to my three blurb writers, Beverley George for the introduction, my talented graphic designer, the wonderful artists who painted the cover image and illustrated the book, FC Productions, every editor who has published work that appears in this book, those who have written responsively with me over the years.

It also means now I can look forward to moving on to another project. There are several waiting in the wings, bleating for attention. They can now be given the attention they deserve now this has come to fruition.  

One major task in completing a book is the publishing process. I believe you self-published your book. Did you have an editor? Has the publishing process been stressful? Is it a tedious task for any of us to undertake? How has it been for you?

Some may think self-publishing to be a stressful process, but I did not find it so. I enjoyed learning the process behind book production, and relished the sense that I had control about how my book would look and feel.

I did not have an editor to work, or contend with, depending on how you view that process. Is this a good or a bad thing . . . who can tell? The reviews will decide that based on how the quality stands up to independent assessment. The value of an editor is that they are divorced from the work and have no emotional involvement; cold, hard maths. So they can often cut where a cut is needed. I feel my editors are those who have previously published my works. Around 75% of the tanka in Slow Growing Ivy have appeared in a journal or anthology in the last couple of years. So I don’t feel I have compromised the quality of Slow Growing Ivy by not having an editor or publishing house.

What I have enjoyed with the independent publishing process is being able to control the production quality of a book. Often, when an author signs with a publishing house, they are limited by the stock that the publisher and their printer use based on availability and cost. That is not such a factor for me. If I want a specific paper type, such as 128gsm satin as I used previously, I can have that without any compromise. If I want a specific font, a certain type of cover, then I can have that. It does not come down to someone else’s choice or the small print in a contract.

So true. You do not lose sleep on what another decides for your book.

Yes, you have total control . . . but with that comes the complete responsibility. To ensure that the overall quality is maintained both in content and end production. You are the one who has to deal with the cover artist, engage the graphic designer, approve set-up & design and placement of tanka, and double proof for accuracy. And you have final sign-off and responsibility when it goes to print and when the finished product comes back. Some people may enjoy all that, and others may not.

Ultimately, when one self-publishes, you need to find all the up-front costs that are normally covered by a publishing house. But if that is not an issue for an author then independent publishing might just be the way to go if you have a vision you want to see come to life.

Last month you confided that there is a 'surprise' poet who has collaborated with you on responsive tanka.  Would you like to mention the poet, and what this experience means to you? How did this collaboration form?

As books have now gone out to libraries for legal deposit and to reviewers, I guess it is alright to now disclose that there is one complete responsive tanka sequence in Slow Growing Ivy written with Carol Judkins from Carlsbad, CA, USA.

I have only known Carol for a relatively short period of time. We became facebook friends in October of 2012. Carol joined a closed and private group I run called Tanka Workshop. This is a space for 10 people to actively workshop and critique tanka to assist with improving our skills as tanka poets and aiding our publication of work.

Carol was so responsive to feedback and her tanka skill developed in leaps and bounds, as did her resume of published works. I was amazed at the high quality of the tanka she was writing and I enjoyed the style and content of her tanka. In September last year I approached her and asked if she would like to write a responsive tanka sequence with me.

I was delighted she agreed and we discussed, via email, how the responsive process would work for us. Our guiding philosophy was that there should be no pressure and no time constraints, and that the process should above everything else be fun. There was never a deadline for response turn-around and we could still attend to other things in life as the sequence progressed. We did not start with a theme, but one soon developed through subsequent responses.

It was truly a collaborative process from start to finish as we discussed each tanka in the sequence and identified evolving themes. We commented on each other’s tanka and were open to suggestions for improvement of the work as a whole. This is the first time I have written with Carol and it was such an engaging and wonderful process. I can’t thank her enough for the joy involved in writing with her.

We finished the sequence just as I was about to finalise the content in Slow Growing Ivy. I asked Carol if she would be happy to permit me first publication rights in my new book. Again I was delighted when she agreed. I am thrilled with our sequence and think it a wonderful example of the responsive tanka process and am proud to include it in this collection.

Carol Judkins(Grins wide). David, here’s a surprise for you.  (Welcomes Carol for this brief interaction).  Congratulations Carol.  David shares his wonderful experience writing tanka with you. How has it been for you?

Writing with David Terelinck is pure heaven. Who wouldn't experience deep satisfaction collaborating with a generous heart, a supportive mentor, a talented poet? On our journey we have also had good, plain fun with surprising links and shifts!

I’m sure it was equally uplifting and wonderful. Thank you Carol. I’m so delighted David invited you to be part of his book. Back at you David ... Who do you dedicate this book to and who would you like to thank?

This book is dedicated to my partner, Robert Miller. Rob has been a staunch supporter of my tanka journey from day one, and has often been a tanka widow and taken a back seat when a workshop appeared, a submission deadline was looming, or the muse simply refused to be ignored or silenced. Slow Growing Ivy is his book as the title tanka comes from a sequence of the same name. It was written at the time when Rob was undergoing treatment for head & neck cancer. It is my way of saying thank you to him for the endless support he has given me as a tanka poet.

Who would I like to thank . . . do we have enough space for that? In all seriousness I would thank the following people:

  • Beverley George and Kathy Kituai for reasons previously stated;
  • All the editors who have ever published my work;
  • Everyone who reads my work. Without readers, authors would have no audience;
  • Robert Miller who is simply an unqualified support;
  • My wonderfully gifted graphic designer, Matthew George (son of Beverley). Matt has made this book so much more than I envisaged. Thank you for the hand-drawn title and section header font! It is wonderful and I love all you did on the book;
  • Claudia Coutu-Radmore, Kozue Uzawa and Tom Clausen. Three tanka colleagues, and I hope friends, who wrote the most amazing back cover blurbs;
  • Sylvia Amodeo who painted Slow Growing Ivy and did the individual book illustrations;
  • FC Productions for an amazing job printing my book and bringing it to life;
  • Kathy Kituai again as she is the official launcher of the book on 30th March 2014;
  • Those people who have kindly agreed to review a copy of the book;
  • My mother and sister who have again come to the fore and willingly taken up the role of providing some light refreshments for the launch;
  • Barristers Block Premium Wines in South Australia. They are attending the launch and doing a full wine-tasting at the end . . . what a nice touch of class with the synergy of books and wine;
  • The NSW Writers’ Centre for allowing me access to the Centre for the launch and for the discount on room hire;
  • Everyone who has written responsively with me and placed their trust in me during that process;
  • Carol Judkins for having faith in me and Slow Growing Ivy and agreeing to have our sequence published there without seeing he full manuscript first.
  • To the other amazing, talented and gifted tanka poets out there that I read on a daily basis. Your ongoing quality work inspires me to keep doing my best as well.

What is the difference between Casting Shadows and Slow Growing Ivy? What does each mean to you? 

Difficult question Mandy. Sort of like asking which child is your favourite . . . I imagine every parent has a favourite child, but they never tell.

I think the main difference is that they came at different times in my life, with different life experiences. And I think that is reflected in the differences of the tanka in each. I recall saying to a friend that I felt the tanka within Slow Growing Ivy was richer and deeper than in Casting Shadows, but she does not see that. Many people continue to tell me that they dip into Casting Shadows over and over, and how much they enjoy it. But I do feel the new collection is informed by other life influences that have had in impact in the past few years.

One main difference is in the layout and design. In retrospect if I had my time over with Casting Shadows I would not have so many tanka per page. This time I have a maximum of two per page to allow more white space so each tanka can be appreciated without it running into the next.

Each book is a learning curve. So again I have rectified in Slow Growing Ivy what I felt was an oversight in Casting Shadows. I have made full acknowledgement of all publication credits for tanka that appear in the new collection. And also acknowledged what specific tanka of mine are from responsive sequences with others. I wanted to show respect for all those people who have been so important on my tanka pathway.

Casting Shadows will always have a special place in my heart as it was my first collection. I hear first-borns do that? But I am very proud of Slow Growing Ivy as there are some very “different” style of tanka in there . . . the sort I was not writing five or seven years ago.

I’ve asked you this question last week, nonetheless ... How can people buy your books?

Both Slow Growing Ivy and Casting Shadows are available direct from me. Slow Growing Ivy is $25 AUD which includes postage worldwide. Casting Shadows is $15 AUD, also including postage. Secure PayPal payments can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – don’t forget to include details for postage, and whether you would like the book signed. 


tanka_oz (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au


One last question, David, why do you think a person should buy your book? 

In the words of Tom Clausen who wrote the back cover blurb, those who buy my book of tanka will experience a world that moves them “from the moon and stars to the inner workings of the human condition” and will be taken “on a voyage of discovery and awareness of the ephemeral to a place that is lasting in our heart.” 

Thank you so much for your time with this interview David.  Once again, congratulations on yet another book.  (((HUGS))) ... I am honoured that you are my friend and mentor which has enabled me to see the heart of the poet that you are. I hope others realize the potential of your writing through your book, and connect with your tanka on a deep level.

Readers ... spare a moment and send in some love.  David could use all the encouragement and support in getting his book launched this month - on March 30th.  Post your felicitations as comments here, and /or get your ‘autographed’ copy of Slow Growing Ivy today! 


a shaded corner

in the hospice garden

– slow growing ivy

as if there is all

the time in the world



through distant fog

the echo of drum and gong –


that separate us, and those

that bring us together . . .




cobbled together

with birdsong –

the answer to prayers

comes in many forms 

(from Slow Growing Ivy)

Author Spotlight: David Terelinck

Book Review: Casting Shadows