Like the birds on the cover of ‘Seasons Defined’ my soul has taken flight this summer, and with various twists, turns, swoops and sweeps my inner consciousness has been on a mysterious journey. It is an intangible experience, an inexplicable sensation without one specific cause.

Along the way two creative art pieces have become my friends; both affecting me deeply and I’ve returned to them often.

The first is a unique poetry book which I won in a Giveaway by Khaya Ronkainen. This chapbook * travelled from Scandinavia, leaving Finland early summer, only to return with me to Sweden where I savoured it in peace and serenity.

Beautifully bound with golden ribbon and tag, I unwrapped ‘Seasons Defined’ with reverential care and with sweet expectation dipped into the book. Within are sixteen exquisite poems capturing the magic of the seasons in Finland; there follows an exploration of the wilderness, the landscapes, the weather, the wildlife.

‘Hoppers chirp
Bees hum

Fostering species
Flowers bloom

Cotton clouds
Blot the sky’  (From ‘This is Country’)

Furthermore the poems become an exploration of oneself and ultimately love! This collection is a moving tribute to a country Khaya embraced as her own, as well as recognising her roots, and some poems tenderly capture the loving couple of Khaya and her husband.

we quench our thirst from a well of love
and agree, love is a beautiful thing

we dine outdoors with birds singing
and agree, it’s time to dance’  (From ‘Wilderness, My Friend’)

Life in all its facets is celebrated throughout!

As Khaya wrote in a personal handwritten inscription to me, I did indeed recognise a little, or rather a lot, of Sweden and its wilderness within the poems. I related directly to the natural world she so eloquently and vividly describes and through her words I saw the wonderful nature anew.

Whilst depicting the enchanting and bewitching seasons, Khaya’s work struck a deeper chord with me as she spoke of the solitude of the wilderness. Not to be confused with loneliness; this is an enriching, rewarding solitude that brings deeper understanding of the world and oneself.

‘I embrace silence.’  (From ‘At the Crack of Dawn’)

‘Deep in the wilderness, I stumble
The track under a canopy of spruce
Draped in snow leads to paradise

Only imagination stands between
man and reality, for in dreamland
Solitude is tangible.’  ( From ‘Winter Dream’)

The very solitude that enveloped me in its soothing arms during the summer and one which is not yet ready to release its clasp.

Photo by Irina Kolomijets

Throughout the poems, Khaya’s sense of wonder and joy at the nature of Finland is captured with  awe and exhilaration. Her unique insight and approach is explained by the fact that Khaya is originally from South Africa. The variances of the Finnish seasons is a world away from ones experienced in the southern hemisphere. Furthermore, her poetry is influenced to a certain degree by the strong tradition of oral storytelling of the Xhosa people. I feel that within the beats of the poems there is a song to be heard, the pulse of the phrases take on a life of their own as they become all-encompassing, over-arching each other. This becomes more evident with each reading, when hidden depths are slowly unfurled.

I cannot thank Khaya enough for this precious Giveaway of both her first poetry chapbook and also of the highly unusual broadside ** of the poem ‘Summer’ with original artwork.


To read more about Khaya & her poetry as well as to buy the print version of ‘Seasons Defined’ click here to go to her website.

‘Seasons Defined’ is also available as an ebook on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

* If like me, you’ve never come across the word Chapbook before, this is an expression from North America and refers to a small paper-covered booklet, typically containing poetry or fiction.

** Broadside were traditionally posters, announcing events or proclamations, commentary in the form of ballads, or simply advertisements.

Finally just as Khaya’s poetry moves me so does the instrumental composition below. Just as the poetry embedded itself within me, so did the music of ‘Awakening’.

From the initial crackle of an old vinyl, the quiet haunting tones of the first bars rise to a hypnotising melody that never fails to lift my heart and mood. The musical ‘Awakening’ mirrors a shift and rekindling of my conscious self.

One comment on youtube writes of ‘Awakening’:

‘Absolutely beautiful, both music and cover. The title is so apt as the shining melody, gently and persistently get brighter. The darker background fights but loses. Five stars Sammy.’


  1. Pingback: On Questioning My Writing Poetry - Khaya Ronkainen

    1. Andrea, in one sentence you reached into the essence of this book … ‘a journey of the soul’! Thank you so much! It was a happy time wandering through the poems, my heart and soul … and a collection that will stay with me. Hope you’re having a special Autumn; I’m back in Sweden for a short while and the trees are in full celebration of the season, a delight to see and to view the dance of the falling birch leaves.

  2. Khaya Ronkainen

    Dear Annika and your amazing readers! Forgive me, I’m a little bit late in responding not for lack of time but words.

    This is one of the few occasions, I can’t find the correct word to capture the joyous emotion I feel right now. I’ve had time to read and reread your spot-on and brilliant review about my work, and the wonderful and encouraging comments by your readers. I am humbled, honoured and grateful beyond words. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone. ❤

    1. Khaya, it’s wonderful to read your special comment … thank you so much! It’s been an honour to read and review your poetry book and I am overjoyed with the thoughtful and positive responses here. I am sure I am not the only one keen to see your next collection and until then wish you great joy in writing and may the mystical landscape around you continue to be your muse! Hugs ❤️

  3. Annika, poetry’s not my thing. However I loved this post and am so impressed both by those that can be inspired to write good poetry, but also those that can appreciate it. We’ve just had a literary festival here in Jersey and I was similarly impressed by the poetry performances and the reaction to them.

    I’m guessing that Sammy’s your son – that was a very nice piece.

    1. Roy, I must admit that I don’t read a lot of poetry but am definitely drawn to certain works! I’ve followed Khaya for a long time here on WordPress and always found her poems mesmerising and intriguing! The chapbook is a delight to hold and its cover welcoming. From the first I was hooked … immediately approachable and able to understand the poems on one level and later seeing hidden depths. Just wonderful! The literary festival in Jersey sounds wonderful and what a beautiful setting! Did the poet performances make you enjoy poetry any more?

      Yep, Sammy is my son. In the last year of A-levels and music is his passion, having studied piano/keyboard since young. Recently he’s started music production/composition on his own and it is a joy to watch his dedication! So glad you enjoyed this piece.

      1. Thanks Annika. If anything I’m drawn to the Celtic Revival poets (Years etc). Yes, Lemn Sissay played to a packed Opera House over here last week – a powerful performance poet who went down very well.
        You must be proud of Sammy – hope he continues to excel.

        1. Wow! I’ve just spent ages looking at Lemn Sissay online and he is amazing! Mesmerising and incredibly powerful … that must have been one heck of a performance. Thank you for mentioning him and I’ll look out if he’s anywhere close to where I live in the future.

  4. I am so pleased you had a good holiday this summer, Annika. Just what you needed I am sure, after such a hectic time earlier in the year. I love Sammy’s music! It sounds so confident and cheerful. You must be so proud of him ❤
    Thank you for the review of Khaya's poems. They sound sublime!

    1. Clare, you are right that the summer break was good … absolutely wonderful and rejuvenating. I just can’t believe how fast the time has flown since my return, Khaya’s poems sneaked into my soul during the holiday, unexpectedly so I must say. Definitely sublime and coupled with my son’s music, I won’t ever forget either. Oh yes, I am so proud – it’s lovely to see his passion and dedication to his art and overjoyed when it works out for him! Many thanks for reading and your thoughtful reflections. ❤️

  5. What a fabulous review, Annika, and introduction to Khaya’s poetry. I’ll add her book to my collection, too, knowing I’ll be just as moved as you were. And I love Sammy’s song, too, and I know how proud you are of him. He is one talented young man! So glad to finally see a post from you pop up in my email and looking forward to more. 🙂 Much love!💗🌼🌻😊

    1. Lauren, bless you for your generous and warmhearted comment – a perfect start to my day! ❤️ As a poet I am sure this is a collection that would resonate deeply with you and enjoy when you have a chance to read! Oh yes, I am incredibly proud of Sammy – it’s been a joy and honour to listen to the creation of this song – his patience and dedication is inspiring. The mood of Awakening slotted in perfectly with my feelings as I read ‘Season’s Defined’

      I have indeed been away from blogging for a while and although I will not be postign on the same tempo as previously I couldn’t help but share some of my poetry today on a new post!

      Hoping you’re having a good start to the week. hugs & love xx🍂🌻🌺🤗

  6. What a powerful review of Khaya’s poetry, Annika! I just bought her Chapbook and I’m sure will enjoy her poems as much as you did. I also loved your son’s Awakening – have listened to it several times already…it goes so well with my view of the salt marsh and the birds flying by as the sunset nears. What a beautiful composition ❤

    1. Wow! Helen, thank you so much for your fantastic comment – there is poetry here and I’m picturing the salt marsh with its birds! How wonderful that you have bought Khaya’s Chapbook and do enjoy, it’s one to savour and revisit. Also, I’m overjoyed that you were enthralled with Awakening … it is the perfect complement to nature, I feel. Wishing you a magical start to the new month … perhaps a bit less hectic for you?! ❤️😀

    1. Absolutely, Alison! As you can tell I found Khaya’s poetry wonderfully uplifting and inspiring and so glad you felt this as well. Many thanks for reading and you’re lovely comment. 😀

  7. Sounds like you had the perfect accompaniments to leisure time, Annika. Apart from your family, of course! 🙂 🙂 We all need time to recharge, rethink, reevaluate and just be. My turn now 🙂 Thanks for being great company.

    1. Jo, I wish you lots of happiness and fun in your new life in the Algarve – it must be so exciting and yes, I reckon it’s your turn to just stop! And Be … without the constant busyness life forces upon us. Will you continue blogging – I do hope so as I’d miss your posts and your company very much. Love xx

    1. Julie, I love your expression of ‘odes to Nature’ – perfect! When you write of the seasons, nature, your garden, there is always a poetic lilt and I’m sure you’ll adore this book when you have a chance to read it. One to savour and return to. Wishing you a fabulous start to October. 🍂🍁

  8. The poetry book sounds delightful. You have a way with words too. I have always longed to travel to Finland. Hope you had a great summer with lots of YOU time. Writers need to recharge the batteries from time to time. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Mary Ann, as a poet I really hoped you’d see this post – not only wonderful poetry but about Finland too! I do hope these brief extracts here give you a hint of the magical awe-inspiring landscape. Reading it, I feel as if I’ve been there myself! 😀

      I had a wonderful summer (alas it seems long ago!) with lots of relaxation, rethinking … and yes, recharging the inner batteries.

      Wishing you a great start to October – a beautiful autumn here in the UK with cold crip mornings slowly turning to warm sunny days. Heavenly! x

      1. Thanks for the lovely comment. Finland is on my bucket list. Autumn or Fall is a favorite season of mine. Those crisp cool mornings and later sunny days are my cup of tea. I took a short break from singing but am back in earnest now. What is you new project, if any? Enjoy!

        1. There is a new project in the works but I’ll keep quiet for now to see if it turns out as I want … keep your eyes peeled. The idea was given to me by a plumber as we were talking about my book. Intrigued?! 😀

  9. It’s nice that you are back Annika and that too with such a benevolent review of a poetry book. I admire your understanding of Khaya’s poems, they are soulful…so is Sammy’s music, Thanks for sharing.

    1. Balroop, as a poet yourself I hoped you’d see this post and find this Chapbook and the poems of particular interest. As you noticed, the soulful and spiritual nature of Khaya’s work spoke directly to me and it’s been a joy to share here along with Sammy’s music … the two seem to complement each other perfectly.

      It’s lovely to be back albeit with a slightly reduced tempo. Wishing you a lovely weekend. Xx

  10. Great review, Annika. Thoughtful as always. Welcome back, too! I was wondering if I had missed some posts, because I’ve also been away from WordPress at times. Glad to reconnect. Happy Fall to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Barbara! 😀 The poems are deeply thoughtful and made me even more so!

      It’s lovely to hear from you and no, you haven’t missed any posts … it seems a lot of bloggers are easing up a bit on WP!

      Hoping you have a beautiful autumn/Fall as well – I do love this season with its crisp chill in the mornings then the warming sunlight of day … the leaves in the last flurry of colour!

    1. Robbie, it is a very special collection and one that has touched me deeply … a joy to share here. I know, it’s been ages since I posted … lots of reasons why, some touched on in this post but also such events as organising a big birthday party for myself earlier this month, work … great to be back and reconnecting!

  11. Dearest Annika, Loved reading your lovely post and that poetry book sounds such a beautiful read..Khaya sounds and looks to be a beautiful Soul..

    And yes there is a difference to being alone and being lonely.. I love nothing better to be alone in nature, and feel her vibrant energy and power of the Seasons that bring us different emotions.. Spring with her new growth, renewal and life pushing through the frozen earth, while Summer brings her warmth and fragrant blooms.. Autumn prepares for sleep as Summer gently winds down bringing us the golds and harvest rewards.. Winter her blankets of snow to protect the earth and prepare all that sleep for their new generation of Springing Forth again..

    Sammy’s music captured all of that, I have played this piece several times now while writing this and I left Sammy a message on his YouTube.. You must be so Proud of him.. and rightly so.. Wonderful what he has done in composing this piece..

    Sending love and well wishes Annika.. welcome back.. And so pleased I did not miss any posts.. 🙂 ❤ Hugs

    1. Sue, your warm, generous, heartfelt and thoughtful comments are always a blessing and joy to read.❤️ Thank you so much, my friend. Whilst following Khaya on her blog, through her poems and comments I had also found her to be ‘beautiful Soul’.

      I love your beautiful summing up of the seasons and there is pure poetry in your descriptions, and the personification of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter is wonderful. Autumn is definitely rewarding us this year with warmth and gold!

      Wow … your words about Sammy’s music will mean the world to him (and to me too) and oh yes, I am so proud! Not only that, I feel honoured and very lucky to have followed the creative journey of this song – from the first tones played on the piano, to the final production here. Your youtube comment is fantastic and thank you for introducing me to a new artist, Tokio Myers – I’m now listening to his amazing music and talent whilst working.

      I’m glad you didn’t miss any posts either! 😀 I am slowing down on the blogging tempo as well; finding the much needed balance in life, savouring the moments! Wishing you a lovely relaxing weekend, with joy at each New Dawn!🌻 xx

      1. Wonderful to know you too are taking life in the slow lane to savour the Now of your moments Annika.. And yes, your Son’s debut Album will be something else… He has tremendous talent.. And Glad I introduced you to Tokio.. 🙂 His journey was also dedicated and long until his breakthrough …
        And much love returned dear Annika… ❤

  12. This is a great review of the poetry and it’s great to see you’re back to blogging again! Also thank you very much for including my song at the end of this post!

    1. Sammy, thank you so much for your kind comment about the review and l’m happy you enjoyed reading about Khaya and her poetry. It is an honour and a pleasure to share your song here – it is very special and it’s wonderful to see the positive feedback about your work. We can’t wait for the next one! 😀

  13. It is indeed lovely to have you back Annika. You were missed.
    I had not heard of a chapbook before but if this is a regular example then I would love to see more. Khaya’s poetry is beautiful and it is presented so uniquely. I marvel at the idea of leaving a tent and being greeted by a mosquito festival! 🌼

    1. Brigid, I totally agree, the presentation is unique and it is a joy to just hold the book. When Khaya first mentioned the Chapbook on her blog I was slightly wary; I’d seen small poetry pamphlets before and they did not look good … this is top quality, great design and space given for the words to stand out! Just lovely.

      Haha … mosquito festival was the only part of the poems I’d disagree with – to me they’re a nightmare but I love her positive take on them!

      Warmest thanks for the sweet welcome back, it’s great to be here again, maybe not blogging at the same tempo but a joy to catch-up. 🤗🌸

    1. Wonderfully described, Diana … it is that common spirit which is celebrated with finesse and joy! I saw you’d written a review but only read it today – I worry about being sub-consciously influenced by others! I totally agree with your review and the only complaint is that one finishes reading it too fast! I can’t wait for her next collection either! Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment when you have so much on. hugs xx

    1. Ahh…thank you so much Iris, it’s good to be back! Lovely to catch up here! I’m so happy you thought the two fitted with each other … the poetry and music have been linked with me for a while now and the evocative nature of ‘Awakening’ is mesmerising.

    1. Bless you, Jennifer … I just write from the heart … and then edit! 😀 In some ways I’m more nervous about book reviews than showing my own writing as I want to do the book justice! I’m so happy the precious and unique nature of this collection comes across. Good luck at the weekend … enjoy! Hope you sell lots of books! 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthia! ❤️ That means a lot to me.

      I’ve never reviewed poetry before and at first made lots of notes on form etc … by which stage I felt it becoming an essay. I then went back to my ‘write from the heart’, what the poems mean to me, how they’ve affected me. I’m so happy you enjoyed the review – I love your posts and writings and am sure your reviews would be great!

    1. Such books are indeed precious and the tag is saved within the book as well. Also today I took the broadside to be framed and it will hang in my study – the little robin shining bright! Now I’m curious about your special poems…

      1. I love that idea–an image will bring back the entire poem to memory. I get this with the shelves of books that sit right by my desk. I look at a book and remember all the joy I had reading it, in about five seconds!

  14. Mike

    Hi Annika

    Sounds as if you have taken time out to re-align yourself. Glad you are back as I have missed your posts.
    The poetry is delightful and as for the instrumental..well that is amazing.


    1. Mike, warmest thanks for your lovely comment. 😀I know, I’ve been away for a while – realigning and being very busy on the work and personal front! It’s great to come back and share both the poetry and music – I’m so happy you enjoyed both.x

  15. Nice to hear from you, Annika!

    Your review of the poetry was (as always) thoughtful and complete. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us. And I’m listening to the track you included right now. It’s lovely.

    1. Thank you so much, Staci … it’s great to be back although for various reasons, some mentioned here, I will not be running on the same tempo with blogging as previously. It’s lovely to make contact and share once more.

      I find reviewing poetry tricky and after preparing ‘essay’ style notes about form etc I decided to go with the impact the poems had on me and why.

      So glad you enjoyed the instrumental as well … it’s been amazing to follow through the creation of this from the first tentative notes on the piano.

      Wishing you well with all your writing. x

      1. A rigorous blogging schedule is difficult for anyone, let alone for someone with other time demands.

        And I think you made the right choice going with how the poem made you feel rather than a critique of the mechanics and form. Poetry is all about feeling, after all.

  16. Annika, this is a wonderful review of Khaya Ronkainen’s book of poetry. I knew you captured the essence of her profound work when you reminded us that solitude is not loneliness, a distinction essential to understanding her poem. In fact, the language of poetry is precise, each word chosen at the end of a blade, and the poet demonstrates her mastery at this skill. The background you provided about Khaya makes the review that much more meaningful. I wish her the best with all her future endeavors.

    Everyone should be lucky enough to earn a review from you.

    1. Bless you, Sharon … this is the fifth time I’ve read your wonderful comment and on each reading I’m tear-eyed. Thank you so much for your final comment – that means so much to me.

      Khaya, I know will be overjoyed and touched by your anaylsis of her work and how true when you say that’ each word chosen at the end of a blade’. There wasn’t a superfluous word, or pause for that matter! I read about her background on an interview linked to her blog – she was born in the same village as Nelson Mandela which I find wonderful.

      Warmest thanks again, love & hugs ❤️

  17. Ahhh …Annika, it is wonderful to see a post from you again. Hear your strong voice with a new exciting poetic and almost spiritual addition. Is this what the Solitude gave you then we all should find some.
    Your first paragraphs sound like a crystal waterfall of poetic words, controlled to some extent by its banks.

    Your review of Khaya is wonderful and she deserves every word. I will buy the book but through her blog I am already an admirer. Wonderful woman with so much strength and love.
    Your pictures that accompany are so very delicate and imbued with the spirit of the poems.

    Then to this wonderful composition and playing by Sammy.Perry of his latest release. Awakening is all you say and the utube comment sums up a or t of what I feel.

    You have given me an uplifting start of the day. Thank you.


    1. Miriam, I’m smiling at your wonderful poetic comment / essay … so much I want to answer! 😀

      Yes, solitude gave me all this and more … and Khaya’s poetry reinforced my emotions during the summer. Odd how life throws us these combinations at times! I’m taken with your descriptive and evocative staement about my first paragraphs as ‘crystal waterfall of poetic words’ – praise indeed from such a gifted poet as yourself – I might even become big-headed! 😀 Khaya will be so happy that you want to buy and read her book and I am sure you will see even more in her work and understand the poetry behind it. Enjoy!

      The music is one I listen to on a daily basis and this very morning I put it on first thing, having rejected many other pieces. Uplifting indeed!

      Wishing you lots of joy with your own poetic work and look forward to your next post! ❤️

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