Purple Ink: A Childhood In Tanka by Carole Johnston



There is a striking honesty running through the poems collected in Purple Ink – A Childhood in Tanka by Carole Johnston. These tanka are often bittersweet, laced with both innocence and guilt, which is what make this book powerful and unique. Carole weaves her magic through the use of vivid, often surprising images to produce her signature tanka that tiptoe so delicately between inner and outer worlds. And, moving in and out of shades of light and dark, as well as the real and surreal — Carole proves herself not just as a brilliant tanka poet, but as a storyteller. She has a knack for producing vivid and memorable images in only five lines, by scratching beneath the surface to get under the skin of a poem, and in turn the reader. This is Carole Johnston at her best, once again, packing that poetic punch that lingers far beyond the last page.

–Caroline Skanne – editor of ‘Hedgerow: A Journal of Small Poems’ and Wildflower Poetry Press.


In  Purple Ink Carole Johnston has once again created a world that is both magical and profoundly realistic. Through her exquisite patterns of imagery and her masterful tanka, Johnston takes us inside the rich mind of a young poet, always a stranger in the “neurotypical” world of her neighborhood, as she moves from innocence to the eventual understanding that we are ultimately defined by the secrets of “hearts we never share.”  We are invited on this profoundly moving journey with her, uncovering along the way inner secrets of our own.

–Dr. Jonel Sallee is the author of Trees Stand Tall, a book of poems, and numerous scholarly essays.


Purple Ink  is a delightful read about childhood memories that so many of us older little girls can relate to. Carole Johnston writes with an innocent heart.

–Alexis Rotella’s latest book of tanka is The Color Blue, Red Moon Press





Purple Ink: A Childhood In Tanka

by Carole Johnston

$19.99, Full-length, paper


Carole Johnston remembers her childhood as an impressionistic film. She is dedicated to learning the art of writing tanka in the Japanese tradition and spends most of her time lost in “haiku moments.” Living and writing in Lexington, Kentucky, she finds time for the mind to wander. Her two other books of poems are, Journeys: Getting Lost  – Finishing Line Press and Manic Dawn – Wildflower Poetry Press.


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