Let’s Get Inspired by –Xenia Tran – Part 2 of 2

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To be inspired by another life and their routines helps us in our writing, blogging, and life. I always look for inspiration, and with the help of a few blogger friends, I have created this “let’s get inspired series”, click here to read the introductory post.

Today we share with you the second part of our interview with Xenia Tran. We will discuss her love of Poetry and the books she has written. If you missed part one, click here to read. In part one, we spoke about Xenia’s blogging and photography journey.

What inspires you? Featuring Xenia Tran – Part 2 

Xenia and I started blogging at the same time – that is- March 2016. We have become friends over that time. What drew me to Xenia’s blog – Whippets Wisdom, was her Whippets’ photos and her poetry. 

I have no pets. However, the photo’s that Xenia takes of her two adopted whippets are stunning and heart-warming. You see the personality of the whippets, who are called Eivor and Pearl. Xenia has since created a second blog called Tranature – quiet moments in nature, which I must admit I wasn’t aware of until I had we had this interview.

Xenia is an accomplished writer who specialises in Japanese poetry. I have to admit it is only recently that I understand the Haiku and Tanka poetry forms and what they are. Xenia was featured in the World Haiku Series in September 2020 with ten haiku, and these were translated into Japanese by Mr Hidenori Hiruta of the Akita International Haiku Network. Xenia has published two books of which a percentage of profits goes to a charity (see below).

Xenia has published two books, of which a percentage of the profits go towards nominated charities.

Her first book, Sharing Our Horizon, was published in 2018 in aid of animal rehoming charities. 

Her second collection, Between Heather and Grass, was published in 2019 to aid Children with Cancer UK and Dogs Trust.

She is currently working on her third collection of poems and photographs,

Xenia was born in The Netherlands and now lives in the Scottish Highlands with her husband and two adopted whippets. Which is another reason why her photos are stunning. The Highlands are so picturesque (though I have never been there personally, I get to see them through Xenia’s beautiful photographs). To read more about Xenia, visit her About page.

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Your love of poetry, especially the Japanese form – how did that happen? Can you share your back story?

I started reading and writing poetry at primary school and, as I was growing up, I also enjoyed writing short stories, journals and diaries. When I was working as a therapist I came across the work of Dr Rita Charon from Columbia University, New York, and attended a conference in London where she was speaking about narrative medicine. This inspired me to create poems about the therapy sessions after I had finished writing up my client notes.

As a therapist you listen to a lot of people’s problems and writing these poems down was a way of releasing that energy in a creative way. The poems frequently had a zen quality to them that provided me with new insights. Creating them and reading them back afterwards was both an enlightening and therapeutic experience. These poems were as confidential as the client notes so there was never any pressure or inclination to publish them.

My narrative medicine practice inspired me to read more Zen poetry, which eventually lead me to read more haiku and other Japanese poetry forms. Although the haiku is a very short poem, it takes a lot of skill to get it right. After joining a women’s writing group and having several poems published in journals I decided to attend a Summer School at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast. One of the workshops during the Summer School was on haiku and it deepened my love and understanding of the form.

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Your book journey can you explain how it came about? Was it designed, or a natural accident?

Sharing Our Horizon was created in response to repeated requests by my readers to publish a full collection. I had written many poems by then and fourteen poems from the blog had been anthologised. I selected four of the anthologised poems and fifty-six others and paired them with photographs where image and words naturally complement each other.

I took several hours a day off-line to fine-tune and edit so that the poems flowed easily from one to the next and then handed them over to my editor. I enjoy working with poetry journal editors and working with an editor on my first full collection was a natural next step. Once my editor had given me his feedback I took a blogging break to work on my final edits before handing the manuscript to my designer.

The internal design of a book is an art in itself and I used a professional designer who could also take care of the book cover design. The designer prepared a paperback edition and an epub edition. I self-published the epub on Apple Books, Google Play and Kindle while the paperback and all other epub editions were distributed via Ingram Spark.

My intention to share the proceeds of my books with animal rehoming centres flowed naturally from my earlier involvement as a volunteer. I was delighted to be able to support three charities in the first year of publication and am very grateful for everyone who bought a copy.

The main lesson learned from publishing my first book was that it is far easier to plan your writing and photography with a theme and book in mind rather than doing this retrospectively. I also learned that I really enjoyed working with an editor and designer and that I would be happy to do this again.

One poem that had been set aside for my second book was A Message from the Stars, a poem written in memory of our nephew Jamie, and I wanted to create a selection of poems that would fit naturally around that. I discussed the choice of a children’s cancer charity with Jamie’s twin sister before I approached them. The charity loved the idea and were happy to be involved from the start.

This time there was a clear plan and intention and the poems for Between Heather and Grass almost wrote themselves. Organising the photographs was also easier, as I could take them with the book in mind. In addition to working my editor and designer I also worked closely with the charity and am very grateful for their input.

If you would like to know more about Xenia’s books the details are below.  And remember a percentage of profits goes to charity (what a beautiful idea).

Sharing Our Horizon – A Journey Through the Scottish Highlands with Two Adopted Whippets by Xenia Tran is a collection of poems and photographs that capture daily moments in the Scottish Highlands with her two adopted whippets, Eivor and Pearl. The majority of poems are haibun, haiku and tanka, written in rhythm with the seasons and the fluctuations of the weather within those seasons.

Sixty per cent of net profits from the sale of this book are shared with animal rehoming charities at the end of each financial year.

For a sneak preview, trailer video, reviews and shopping links, please click on the cover below:

Hyperlink for Sharing Our Horizon: https://www.book2look.com/book/bwCKv5hliC

If you’re in the UK or US you can order the paperback edition through your local book store too.


Between Heather and Grass – Poems and Photographs Filled with Love, Hope and Whippets by Xenia Tran is the soulful sequel to Sharing Our Horizon and her second book for whippet lovers, dog lovers and lovers of nature. The majority of poems are haiku, haibun and tanka, written in rhythm with the seasons. The poems and photographs illuminate each other and are both calming and inspiring, inviting you to dip into this collection many times over.

Thirty per cent of net profits from the sale of this book are shared with Children with Cancer UK, in memory of her nephew Jamie Baker. Another thirty per cent of net profits are shared with animal rehoming charities.

For a sneak preview, trailer video, reviews and shopping links, please click on the cover below:

Hyperlink for Between Heather and Grass: https://www.book2look.com/book/wdeQy3NcgV

If you’re in the UK or US you can order the paperback edition through your local book store too.

Xenia was very kind to gift me a copy of her book as she dedicated a poem ‘When the Mist Rises ‘ (based on a blog post of mine where I shared a rather personal story- that post is now private/draft as I found it too hard to keep up on my blog). If you want see inside the book click here to read that blog post.

Are you inspired, motivated?

Do visit again to read the stories of other bloggers interviews I have lined up, and maybe more as 2021 progresses.

If you missed the first blogger Robbie Cheadle in the series you can read her interview here. Kamal Roohani was the second blogger interviewed – click here to read.  And Ellen Hawley was the third blogger in the series, click here to read.

Images : Xenia kindly supplied me with three images used on this blog post. The feature graphic has been created by myself on http://www.canva.com

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22 replies

  1. A lovely interview. I’ve enjoyed this series, Bella. Well done, my friend. I also like the way you organized the content, along with the aesthetics of the post, and the page. Beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

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