ATLAS POETICA

Tags: Joy McCall, Atlas, Sergio Ortiz, line length, Japanese tanka, Japan, Yosano Akiko, Woodward, Perryville, Maryland, USA, tanka prose, Atlas Poetica, Goldstein, Reichhold, Donna Ferrell, Sanford Goldstein, modern poetry, House Woodward, Charles E. Tuttle, Father Neal Henry Lawrence, Jane Reichhold, modern Japanese literature, Jane Reichhold11 Reichhold, Sadakichi Hartmann, Charles Tarlton CARMODY, Marilyn Shoemaker, Katsura Imperial Villa, Katsura Riky Marilyn Humbert, Tim Lenton, Matsukaze, Charles Tarlton.........................36 Shading, Joy, 2014 M. Kei, Marilyn Humbert, Peter Paul Rubens, southern California, Jenny Ward Angyal, Gerry Jacobson, Crossroads Charles Tarlton CARMODY, Christmas trees, Road Marilyn Humbert, The Birthday Party Sergio Ortiz Gambia, Professor Sanford Goldstein
Content: ATLAS POETICA A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka Number 18 Summer, 2014 M. Kei, editor Amora Johnson, technical director Yancy Carpentier, editorial assistant 2014 Keibooks, Perryville, Maryland, USA
KEIBOOKS P O Box 516 Perryville, Maryland, USA 21903 AtlasPoetica.org [email protected] Atlas Poetica A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka Copyright © 2014 by Keibooks All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers and scholars who may quote brief passages. See our EDUCATIONAL USE NOTICE. Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka, a triannual print and e-journal, is dedicated to publishing and promoting fine poetry of place in modern English tanka (including variant forms). Atlas Poetica is interested in both traditional and innovative verse of high quality and in all serious attempts to assimilate the best of the Japanese waka/tanka/kyoka/gogyoshi genres into a continuously developing English short verse tradition. In addition to verse, Atlas Poetica publishes articles, essays, reviews, interviews, letters to the editor, etc., related to tanka poetry of place. Tanka in translation from around the world are welcome in the journal. ISBN 978-0615985374 (Print)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editorial Educational Use Notice ...............................4 Numinous Tanka, M. Kei ................................5 Tanka in Sets and Sequences Going to Gore Orphanage, Tish Davis ...............7 Abyss, Alexander Jankiewicz .........................7 Memorial Day: The Ghost of Charlie Miller, M. Kei ........................................................8 Tombland, Joy McCall ...................................9 Elemental, Kath Abela Wilson & Brian Zimmer ...............................................10 the child had to play, Joy McCall ...................11 The Song of the Sea and Mountain, Sonam Chhoki & Sergio Ortiz .......................12 A Book of Houses, Leslie Ihde ......................14 the fate of the yoxie, Joy McCall & Kate Franks ........................................15 Eleven Stones, Debbie Strange .....................16 Selkie Sisters, Debbie Strange ......................17 Trees, Marilyn Shoemaker Hazelton..........17 Skeletons in a Pantry, Genie Nakano.............17 Feeling Paris, Natsuko Wilson ......................18 Knocknarea, Autumn Noelle Hall & Claire Everett .................................................19 Camino, Carole Harrison ...........................20 a penny for the guy, Joy McCall......................21 the morphing garden, Michael Dunwoody......22 Earthly Carapace, Sonam Chhoki ................23 shall we gather, Joy McCall ..........................24 ghosts, Joy McCall ......................................24 ancestors, Joy McCall...................................25 over the rail, Joy McCall...............................25 traces of light, Tim Lenton & Joy McCall ...26 holding the shape, Joy McCall & Tim Lenton26 a stirring of belief, Joy McCall & Tim Lenton27 erosion, Tim Lenton & Joy McCall .............27 the scent of ancestors, Matsukaze & Murasame.......................................... 28
asylum, Murasame & Matsukaze................28 Nevada Hills, Matsukaze & Murasame .......29 the burning day, Matsukaze & Murasame ....29 charred remains, Matsukaze & Murasame ....30 The Morrigan Returns, Carole Johnston .......30 Siren, Bernice Yap ......................................31 The Birthday Party, Sergio Ortiz ..................31 Striding Eagle, Brian Zimmer ......................32 Agitator, Marilyn Humbert .........................32 Unnamed Road, Marilyn Humbert ..............33 Katsura Riky, Marilyn Humbert ...............33 Sky Blue, Genie Nakano .............................34 Reasons to Not Return, Geoffrey Winch ........34 Lost Worlds, Jenny Ward Angyal.................35 Childhood of Christ, Gerry Jacobson ............35 Crossroads, Charles Tarlton.........................36 Shading, Charles Tarlton.............................37 Calliope/My Ex: Love/Trouble Maker, Chen-ou Liu .......................................................38 Individual Tanka..............................................40 Articles Review: Poetry and Melancholy: Jeffrey Woodward's Another Garden, reviewed by Charles Tarlton6 3 Review: January, A Tanka Diary by M. Kei, reviewed by Patricia Prime.........................69 Review: A Rumination on M. Kei's January, A Tanka Diary, reviewed by Jeffrey Harpeng ............71 Review: This Short Life : Minimalist Tanka, by Sanford Goldstein, reviewed by Joy McCall73 Mini-Review: circling smoke, scattered bones, by Joy McCall, reviewed by Steve Wilkinson ........73 Tanka in Three Lines?, Matsukaze.......................74 The Problem of Tanka : Definition and Differentiation, M. Kei .......................................................77 Announcements ...............................................95 Biographies ......................................................98
Educational Use Notice Keibooks of Perryville, Maryland, USA, publisher of the journal, Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka, is dedicated to tanka education in schools and colleges, at every level. It is our intention and our policy to facilitate the use of Atlas Poetica and related materials to the maximum extent feasible by educators at every level of school and university studies. Educators, without individually seeking permission from the publisher, may use Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka's online digital editions and print editions as primary or ancillary teaching resources. Copyright law "Fair Use" guidelines and doctrine should be interpreted very liberally with respect to Atlas Poetica precisely on the basis of our explicitly stated intention herein. This statement may be cited as an effective permission to use Atlas Poetica as a text or resource for studies. Proper attribution of any excerpt to Atlas Poetica is required. This statement applies equally to digital resources and print copies of the journal. Individual copyrights of poets, authors, artists, etc., published in Atlas Poetica are their own property and are not meant to be compromised in any way by the journal's liberal policy on "Fair Use." Any educator seeking clarification of our policy for a particular use may email the Editor of Atlas Poetica at [email protected] We welcome innovative uses of our resources for tanka education. Atlas Poetica Keibooks P O Box 516 Perryville, MD 21903
Numinous Tanka
Last fall, I edited two special features that received an overflow of submissions. The Garage, Not the Garden : Tanka of Urban Life filled the double-sized special feature, plus issue 17 of Atlas Poetica, while All Hallow's Evening : Supernatural Tanka has nearly taken over issue 18. That these two `unconventional' themes (by tanka standards) saw such a large response advertises tanka's Untapped Potential--this small form really can handle any content that the poet cares to pour into it. This is not surprising given the divine origin of the form; it was invented by the goddess Wakahime ("Poetry Princess") who taught humans how to make both incantations and ordinary songs in the tanka form. For several centuries thereafter, it was not unusual for the gods themselves to contribute tanka to anthologies. The human poet through whom they spoke was merely the channel. The numinous nature of tanka is amply illustrated by the plethora of tanka in this issue that tap into mythology, religion, legend, fantasy, magic, horror, and the most mysterious topic of all, Death. In these pages you will find urban legends, headless horsemen, wendigos, aliens, curses, wishes, myths, magic, Gothic tales, and much more. Our poets draw upon the collective psyches of cultures around the world: from the tomb of Baudelaire to the neolithic stones of Ireland, from the wilds of New Jersey to the tremulous heights of the Himalayas, from the musket fire of the American Revolution to the coco leaves of the Andes, we find ourselves keeping company with travelers, ghosts, rabbis, psychopomps, and madwomen. If we are lucky, we will meet the angel with the orange
in his hand; if not, it's a dizzy leap from the cliffs above a thrashing sea. Magic is very much in the eye of the beholder, but whether the spooks herein frighten you or make you laugh, we are certain that you have never met anything like the cavalcade of spirits unleashed within these pages. In addition, our expansion from eightyfour pages to one hundred and four pages enables us to publish tanka in translation from around the world, book reviews, and non-fiction on a variety of subjects of interest to readers and writers of tanka in every issue. Next issue we will have a focus on poets from India and South Asia wherever they may be. We invite submissions by poets of and writers upon the Indian/South Asian theme. We will also focus on responsive and collaborative tanka, and are open to submissions of nonfiction articles and book reviews relating to either focus. As always, we will consider tanka, waka, kyoka, gogyoshi, tanka prose and tanka sequences of any sort, but will choose thematic items first. However much space remains will be filled with other works. ~K~ M. Kei Editor, Atlas Poetica The Betsiboka River empties into Bombetoka Bay in northwest Madagascar. Cover Image courtesy of Earth Observatory, NASA.
Atlas Poetica · Issue 18 · Page 5
Going to Gore Orphanage Tish Davis orphans in their wooden beds in their wood-walled dorms; outside, a rabbit eyes gleaming red After the sйance, we gather under the street light and pass a soft cloth. We must make sure my Rambler Rebel is handprint-free. We're heading to the hollow where the orphanage burned, where the ghosts still scream and sometimes even leave a print on a passerby's car. a mailbox far from tract housing left to die with its red flag up . . . cicadas, nothing but cicadas transparent wings-- after two sharp turns teetering at the top without the moon a fresh struck match abandoned after two sharp turns and overlooking the hollow where even the light won't go something no one wants to say the cicadas' golden shells are also abandoned
it passes through our mood rings that steady burn . . . windows rolled up hands in the air ~Vermilion, Ohio Abyss Alexander Jankiewicz I can't explain it in any other way than this: I'm lying in bed alone as a young child. A tunnel of light appears near the ceiling in the corner of my room. It doesn't speak with words, but I know that it wants me to enter. I try to ignore it at first, but it won't go away. I can sense it wanting me to enter more and more strongly. I hide under my blanket, too afraid to call out to my parents for help. I can only hope that the light will go away. sometimes my mother's whisper saying good night echoes through the years alone in the dark ~Chicago, Illinois, USA
Atlas Poetica · Issue 18 · Page 7
Memorial Day : The Ghost of Charlie Miller
M. Kei
You never expect to meet a ghost on an autumn day as blue and gold as George Washington's uniform, but there he was, Charlie Miller, the Headless Horseman of Cooch's Bridge, bent over his horse's neck, galloping along the shoulder of the road. O, youth, so bold and brave, you served your country with all your heart-- and your precious head He was there, and then he wasn't. He was a flicker in the corner of my eye, and just like that, he was a bloody flicker seen from the corner of his friends' eyes as the British cannonball took off his head. The wound remains in the church's wall, but Charlie doesn't seem to know it. just sixteen, you answered Washington's call, fought the Redcoats, defended your native land, and left your immortal legend His father didn't want him to join up, but Charlie, half-grown, was sure he was a man, and his country was at stake. He mounted up and rode to meet the British. Every soldier who goes to war leaves behind an unhappy father, but young men never look back. If they did, they'd see old men weeping. Old men know what death is. such a likely lad, with a body as sweet as grass in the autumn sun, and in the grass you died
Charlie doesn't know he's dead. I saw him two miles south of the church, galloping north, just around the corner from Cooch's Bridge. Was he riding to warn his friends of the approach of the enemy? The Redcoats were swarming and Washington was fighting a slow retreat in defense of Philadelphia. your father mourns you, laddie, your friends weep for you and we tell your tale to this day-- you never died, lad, even though they laid your body low Charlie Miller is still riding that last ride, crouched over his horse's neck, young body supple and strong as he races north to fate and eternal fame. He was just a boy like so many others, a boy who thought he was a man and paid a man's price for the liberty of his country. O, Charlie! you've lost your head, but never your heart, we'll lift a cup to you and your eternal fame Charlie Miller really existed, and his story is what I've said. Legends abounded after Charlie's death. They say he went on fighting the British, and the redcoats fled at the sight of the Headless Horseman brandishing his sword. Others say a ghost passed through George Washington and saved him from a sniper's ball as he watched the battle. Still others say men were found butchered on sentry duty, their hair as white as if they'd seen a ghost. I didn't know his story when I saw him. All I saw was a teenage boy hunched low over his horse's neck, riding north, forever north. ~Cooch's Bridge, south of Newark, Delaware, USA
Atlas Poetica · Issue 18 · Page 8
Tombland
Joy McCall
It is not just the living that are frequent visitors to the cobbled streets of old Norwich . . . Situated at one end of Tombland are The Maids Head Hotel and Samson & Hercules House. Both have ghost stories associated with them, and when you explore their heritage a little further it is perhaps easy to understand why. The Maids Head dates back to the 13th century, when it was called the `Murtle Fish'. The name was changed following a visit by Queen Elizabeth I to Norwich in 1578. Like most places visited by the Royal Party in 1578, the Black Death or Plague was destined to follow in its wake. A member of the large party spread the plague as they travelled from place to place and Norwich was no exception. From August 1578 to February 1579 almost 5000 victims of the plague were recorded in the city. In total almost half the entire population of Norwich perished from the Plague during this time. While rats thrived in the narrow alleyways, the grim cry of `bring out your dead' rang throughout the city. As the number of bodies grew in colossal number, formal burials were abandoned in favour of mass-graves or `plague pits'. Cartloads of bodies were taken to the Cathedral Close, which became a large burial area. The graveyards behind St. George's church are so high as they were raised to accommodate the huge number of bodies. The church played an even more sinister role during this time, being the site where opportunistic looters of the dead and dying were taken if caught. After being bound at the ankles and wrists, they would be dropped headfirst from St. George's church onto the unforgiving ground below. Their bodies, whether dead or still alive, would then join the plague victims in the limefilled pits. One of the largest plague pits in Norwich was dug below the Tombland church of St. George. This grim feature, along with the close proximity to the Cathedral, may be the root
cause of numerous tales of hauntings and disturbances in the building throughout the years. These include the ghost of a young girl who apparently starved to death in Augustine Steward House next door after it was boarded up during the plague, as well as spectral monks, shadowy figures, and recurring nightmares for worshippers of being buried alive in a huge pit full of dead bodies. lost around the corner from the all-night bars, an old church-- cobblestones pave the way to untended graves damp and cool and musty, inside a woman sits-- dim light filters through grimy windows distant thump of music, and clubbers shouting and singing-- the woman lifts her head, her prayers disturbed on the hard pew she settles to sleep, shivering-- rain begins to fall rats scratch behind the altar below the nave thick lime in the pit shifts a little-- then closes again over nameless small corpses ~St Georges, Tombland, Norwich, UK
Atlas Poetica · Issue 18 · Page 9
Elemental Brian Zimmer & Kath Abela Wilson
from her bike she tells him what lives under the bridge a secret tamed by flowers certain he knows enchanted eyes meet you and I she says and a giant turtle covered with trap doors a stick wand summons the muskrat upstream a spell of waiting as things take their course out of camouflage burst from my creek-loud night downstream feeling the wake of transformation a raven leads the Morning Prayer: "she is in heaven" . . . after fighting-back left two days in the snow we doves mourn time its mangled nest our winged words a soothing song to sculpt a new earth's core wheels spin our bikes past swollen cornfields the king is dead long live the king
fallen stars burnt bread that overstuffs the sky dark swarms along our trail we mock a figurehead that murders innocence retain a sense of place solo ended trust the wind to turn the page we are the arrow sky-spent skein a bloom unwound symmetry of flight from set to rise in dream he recalls how in `64 no one had seen a boy step into sky awake no dream she floated off started over suitcase bulging with dandelions flames leap bite and devour not a word from the silent man become torch flint sparks our crumpled paper a couple's passion leaves the scent of birth in beach fires
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 10
gather wood sit close together there are stories too cold to tell beyond the blaze stalagmite me bolt upright in bed you cannot sleep until . . . no quenching his irrational anger candlelight softens the room my face the lost face of the past fireworks in the air a finale that belongs out of reach as it trembles a great fissure opens before him he turns off the plow removes his cap underground streams in the great cave waterfalls unheard unseen they know are there ~Kettering, Ohio / Staten Island, New York, USA
the child had to play Joy McCall from the tree roots the wild tribe emerge one by one-- circling the tree, they dance on the hill until dawn hand in hand these strange small people dance and sing-- their fingers white as roots, their skin rough as bark their voices are the creaking of trees in the dark wind-- their footsteps like dry nuts falling on soft ground how they smile, with teeth like the little bones of harvest mice-- their hair prickles like chestnut spikes when they laugh it is the stream flowing, the spring bubbling-- they slip away to sleep at noon, drunk on rain ~Norwich, UK
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 11
The Song of the Sea and Mountain
Sonam Chhoki & Sergio Ortiz
we hold hands and smile-- old photograph I trace the sandalwood frame hold our moment for a while our bodies, seagulls surrendering to the wind . . . time brings us into bloom-- is it for miracles we live? I cling to a hope thinner than wisps of incense swirls that we'll meet again in a new rebirth wind chimes break the echoes of our absence . . . but the world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence the sun backlights yellow aconite slopes what the gods won't tell us: hope is a poison-tipped arrow a poisonous sea rises on the night of our pain . . . and we wait for the unforced flow of words and sleep and dreams the memory of a writing hand won't do for the grief of naming things . . . the sun inks the dawn sky with etchings of blood
why do you hesitate, what do you see in my face if not reflex of the earth, a bed of golden saffron pale gold foxglove heads open to speckled violet throats . . . it seems I'm not the only one with hidden intent a swarm of bees awakens the stars . . . I have a lump in my throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness a plane blinks through a star-strewn sky late in the night you trail through my thoughts leave all these question marks my mouth closed behind a sigh . . . I walked through Shangri-la in spring showers reading Marquez through a rain-laden night I leave my sleepless room for the almond and oregano heat of Macondo it was inevitable: the smell of bitter almonds reminds me of the fate of disgruntled love affairs
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 12
wings in full span two moths circle a butter lamp round and round they dance to a rhythm set in the chrysalis of karma the moonflowers surprise me, shining in the night to soften their plaintive howling invariably words scatter like cloud wisps when I try to speak . . . the blaze of peonies in the morning sun soft I go to gather sun and wind, my speech the speed of darkness-- I am the tree that trembles the night is swollen with words but the disheveled goddess gifts me only the dross of dreams-- I unremember our love watching you on the bed . . . I mine each moment for the ore that holds an antidote for endings ancient grief of the moon forgotten by the sun at dawn . . . a crab quarries amongst the empty shells for the salt of memory no one believes in their own life anymore that's why they're lonely, and unable to find their own nakedness
the stars are too fixed in their orbits to care . . hope is now whimsical notes of a knowing flute so fearfully pale, a rose that bends to the breath of the gale, and stands adrift in the ruins of her sorrow the mountain stream carves stones in its headlong flight down the valley . . . this ancient pulse of endless flow empties all memories the dead gather white shadows from the past . . . real marionettes have no strings split portal of lightning-- dark clouds shadow-play at dawn blind fingers of rain touch my face burnt in the fire of lies a certain kind of Eden holds me enthralled . . . your eyes are a green twine, the saddest of rope ~Bhutan / Puerto Rico, USA
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 13
the first house walls and rooms I was still inside hidden and away
A Book of Houses Leslie Ihde I watched your body sleek muscles under wind parting water with breath and joyous movement
later I built walls with fabric draped on chairs you couldn't come in unless I let you
my dream house with courtyard and cats a little fountain places to play again only room for me
but you did worse than a rape your three year old laughter a terrible truth dawns --permeable walls
my married home come too late catching up on lost time timeless afternoon sun lengthened tree shadows alarm
then stream house island the gushing water moat split by boulders around and around me pretending I was the world
alarm no walls to the house that I am in others aren't outside my body is with yours we grow together old
the house you made with your arms your skin and your mind the others kept out by judgement alone
wind blew my third house down the vacation we planned together not sure the years or the season tomorrow
I was a mermaid you pushed my raft squirting water from your mouth a roman cherub steering me
the fourth house has ocean as foundation fishes for its walls no space not filled with water --it was illusion, anyway ~Psychotherapy & Self-Discovery using Art
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 14
the fate of the yoxie* Joy McCall & Kate Franks
We sat, my Canadian daughter and I, in the old beer garden, playing Scrabble over a tee-total lunch. The patched-up pub is in the shadow of the ancient church and was once the priests' ale store. Parishioners used to come for their pints, after the service, since the river water was not safe to drink, being polluted by sewage, cows . . . and bodies. The servants were paid in ale then, not coins. Three old regulars at the next table were getting slowly drunk on local ale, as usual. They became more and more drunk, more garrulous and loud. "Let us play the game with you," one said. And so it began, the maddest game of Scrabble I ever played. We gave up on sense and spelling and reason. The rule became: only nonsense words, but a meaning must be supplied. the Beymar spoke thus to her Gom: "befok the yoxie! I will swear a plinote against her; bring the Jorp!" he comes! the rog he wields and gooman wears, a bazlat slung across his back to play in case a bright elade can mend alas! the twavib lot is cast upon the casha-- she will seft no more nor tace the cri-ped gniteo
the yoxie's lot is hard and with no sefting harder still the cruel defungs await her once jorp-justice is viwalt but look! she is saved! the dinsa vedds approach, their zirmt music sounds across the quahns, and the wrepis sleeps, in ruteo ~The Buck Inn, Norwich, UK *yoxie, a maid of old, dim and unschooled
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 15
Eleven Stones Debbie Strange Mother lies in a curtained hospital cell, a bloodstone on her tongue. (she cradles the stone angel face of her infant daughter) No one has time to feed her, and her gruel congeals into limestone. (she carries fieldstones from dawning to dimming day) She is intubated, tied to the bed, and my heavy heartstone sinks. (she keens as hailstones grind the crops into dust) Her tumbled thoughts are skipping stones, with neither echo nor ripple. (she polishes the worrystone in her heart's torn pocket) The cornerstone of her life has crumbled, but I am the one who falls. (she is the hearthstone and the headstone) she is 35 when her mother dies and I am born I am 35 when my mother dies it takes 35 days for her to let go ~Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 16
Selkie Sisters Debbie Strange
Skeletons in a Pantry Genie Nakano
Three full maiden moons slipped into the darkling water--selkie sisters astride galloping sea horses, their hands tangled in spindrift manes . . . skinny-dipping with my sisters washing moondust from our hair then braiding it with stars ~Wallace Lake, Manitoba, Canada Trees Marilyn Shoemaker Hazelton Trees of every kind hold a spark of the sacred for me. They steady this world. In winter, I rest my hand against their trunks to feel the heat within. so quietly the roots of trees cultivate their secret knowledge of time, of space, of wonder
Round 2 AM, I need a shot of whiskey-- drag to the kitchen--open the pantry room door to see a small rat on top of a box of cornmeal staring down at me. I scream, close door--run back to bed. For the next few nights, I hear noises from the pantry--pots and pans sliding, the dogs bark courageously. So I buy and set out traps. But I really don't want to kill him. I just want him out of the house. After all, I was born in the year of the rat. I spend Saturday taking everything out of the pantry. He is gone. The only evidence of existence is a half-eaten box of corn meal and a few droppings. On Sunday, I spend the day throwing things out, cleaning, rearranging, organizing the pantry room--it's never looked better. mixed feelings scamper away like a rat in the night those hidden dark demons prayers for a no return ~California, USA
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 17
Feeling Paris Natsuko Wilson
at dawn beneath the airplane Paris wakes up as if a lotus flower begins to open its petals in the dark pond
on the tomb of Baudelaire several notes are left carefully pinned with little stones as if people desperately wait for messages from the poet
pushing a blue door of a small hotel on a small street i might pass Andre Breton in the lobby who has just come down from the upstairs
far in the distance through the ancient graves in the cemetery the tower of Montparnasse stands tall, singing the tune of modern life
passing a flower shop, a key shop, and la creperie of sweet Paris i happen to meet a Gypsy woman sitting at the end of the street the tune of Swan Lake played by a cellist on the platform of the mйtro is swallowed by the screeching sounds of an incoming train
breathing out the scent of Bordeaux wine a lotus flower peacefully closes her petals until the dawn ~France
a man on the subway tells about his sad life to strangers who pretend not listen but pay curious attention
over a chocolate box i bought as a gift for Basha a sales girl scatters playfully fresh petals of red roses
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 18
Knocknarea Autumn Noelle Hall & Claire Everett
on its limestone mount, Connacht's Queen Maeve stands against her Ulster foe . . . no longer can her fair face feel the breeze from Sligo Bay
"in her young age She had been beautiful in that old way . . ." golden ode poured out in ink-- Yeats crowns her once again
cloak and spear aflame every inch the warrior each man in another man's shadow . . . all who loved her
on the breeze the sighs of the dead who sleep in her shadow . . . the chill when she turns eastward to face Dagda's Cairns Hill tomb
to each, but a sip of `she who intoxicates' that he might thirst . . . she fills twin drinking horns from the head of the King's prize bull feet on the scree of scraper and arrowhead, flint and chert, wild as the wind in her hair she guards the Hill of the Moon
leave to Maeve her cairn of stones on the summit of Knocknarea for luck, this offering, as well: a sea-smoothed pocket stone ~Ireland
hip high, the wall circumscribing its rim and hip-to-hip laid North to South, the graves of those who danced in her footsteps
Faery Queen treading the rings of time Sun and Moon still gild the Lake of Brightness rising first, in her eyes ).
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 19
Camino
Carole Harrison
this fast train across morphing landscapes an alien I long to walk, to feel the mud between my toes screaming I am here, I am-- graffiti my need to be known the script of my soul Early days, our first camino in Spain, one hiking stick each. My idea. He thought it silly. Left his firmly attached to his back pack . . . . Without warning, two maneaters, straight from hell . . . held off by just one thin hiking stick. Keep walking! Don't look at them! Keep walking! Be strong! He tries to get his stick. Can't! Keep with me! Keep walking! An eternity, probably only 100m, the fangs of Hades disappear back to their flocks of sheep. I collapse on the ground . . . . he takes my hand carries me up hills balancing my downhill journey . . . together we walk through fear hiking shadows stir the thick Iberian air of empty streets . . . by magic a door opens-- dos cafй con leche an adobe house returns to the earth a crumbling heap melting memories-- what will remain of us?
a stork on a steeple `S' shaped clattering . . . wins the argument a patch work of red soil and spring grasses stitched with poppies ever cheerful--your smile threading the years In southern Spain, days of walking, forests of encina oaks, thousand year old trees. Fascinating aged shapes. What tales could they tell? What shepherds with their flocks passed by . . . pilgrims on their way to Santiago? ancient oak silver topped soldier saluting the years-- scars on twisted trunks badges of a life well fought way below us the white village growing smaller . . . funny how a welcome smile outweighed shattered glass the castle locked storm the door, he says, waiting for a key . . . so easy to bridge gaps than surround ourselves with walls between stone walls memories and wild flowers a song of colour-- when did you last dance so freely not afraid of anything? ~Spain and Australia Previously appeared on Poets on Site, Facebook.
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 20
a penny for the guy * Joy McCall
staunch in their faith the Catholic men hatch the plot over cheap ale in the Dog and Duck tavern the young man in a filthy airless undercroft makes the sign of the cross blessing the martyrs of his faith he sweats hiding gunpowder under wood and coal checking his watch waiting for the signal English Lords wigged and robed, in the great hall above his head gather in solemn state passing the laws of the land heavy footsteps the priest-betrayer approaches the conspirator is sold for a few pennies
he is thrown into the dark jail mocked and beaten tortured on the cruel rack he confesses tied by his feet behind the horse he is dragged through the streets of London past jeering crowds broken and bloody on the scaffold still he prays the god of the Romans does not deign to save him his hacked limbs are scattered north, south east and west that he may find no rest between heaven and hell again November and English children laugh around the bonfires Roman candles, sparklers a penny for the guy ~England * Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th, remembers Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, by recusant Roman Catholics, to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the new Church of England King.
A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 21
the morphing garden Michael Dunwoody
i took measured sips of intoxicating air carefully careful not to interrupt the thrill of his hand still on my thigh we soared high, higher eye level with the blue moon set in a sky quick with fleeting wished-upon stars when i kissed him that first time madcap butterflies shocked my heart to a frenzy of zig-zaggery whenever he read my eyes set his warm red mouth on mine just a glance askance and like a cat my lover madness in his eyes searching what shadows allow was gone at my looking back the grid of burlap binding the frail hydrangea was creased with blue snow when he chose to walk away from my promise of summer near the shaded bench where we dreamed as lovers ornamental grass hacks the sanguine azalea into joints of memory
in the mothy dusk whenever i'd regret him the summer garden necrotic with white lilies recalled all his flourishes this crafty autumn a few trees pretend at green roses set frail buds flies mate in the cooling sun while i wait as i promised despite promises i have become a frail dream more space than substance undifferentiated in fables of his lost loves in his diary is our past too everyday to be wept over? please no, i believed in love earned a name incised in stone ~Canada
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into the lichened-cave She arrives astride a tiger eyes and nostrils aflame it singes the moss-- a talisman to this day
Earthly Carapace Sonam Chhoki it fills the ancient cavern, and shakes the oaks Mara closes his ears writhing on the jungle floor
Mara slithers in a haze of myrrh swinging his hips to a deep-throated song of eternal knowledge and pleasure
"This noise you make, churns me inside out. But I will not be quelled, this battle has just begun and is yet to be won!"
in a swathe of deepest red brocade he intones: "Walk my path of love, Become be the One forever!"
She replies: "My tiger of compassion awaits you, let us soar the Garuda's heights to the Rainbow of Bliss."
the Sage utters no words will her years of solitary meditation by glacier lakes and peaks douse the flames of such passion?
Mara spits, Mara swears he swivels his head and shrieks tearing birds off their flight, startling the nagas in their sleep
images rise in fevered succession: Mara sighs, Mara cries, he dimples, he dances, he lunges at her
the Sage opens her Third Eye of Crystal Light-- in a whorl of ululation Mara swirls and dissolves
the Sage closes her eyes and summons from her depths a lightning swell of the cosmic OM
In Tibetan Buddhist iconography Mara is the god who creates cosmic illusions. He is famously depicted as the one who tempted the historical Buddha with visions of carnal pleasure. I've used this template to portray a female Buddha who is confronted by Mara's illusionary promises. She is inspired by the eleventh century Tibetan Yogini Machig Labdrцn (1055­1149).
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shall we gather Joy McCall
ghosts Joy McCall
the bank slopes down to where the stream runs under the bridge-- the priest comes dripping up from the baptising
there's a spirit in the Main Street bookshop in Tipp, Ohio-- a small child humming an old settlers' hymn
eight motorbikes in a row alongside the river inn-- ale and pork scatchings the bikers' communion
on a cliff above a Welsh cove, an old cottage-- a gentle ghost neatly folds back the quilts
my long-haired friend chilled from the immersing huddles by the fire-- he says nothing, deep in his own holy space
on friday nights, the sound of a hammer on an anvil-- a blacksmith singing low by the old forge wall
in the gloom the priest shares our table our rough altar-- he gets drunk and sings hymns as the day wears down
on the cliff edge walks a bent old woman, talking to herself-- through her grey body I see the waves breaking
we pitch a tent under the willows in darkness-- my friend sleeps in leathers, the priest lies naked, snoring ~The King's Head Inn, Barton Broom. Norfolk, England
in the old hall where the strangers dwelt a robed rabbi walks-- he repeats the sacred words; there is no flesh on his white bones ~Strangers' Hall, Norwich, England
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ancestors Joy McCall for the Gypsy a cold wind blows in the walled garden he talks to me of the visionary and the persian woman a small bird sits on her bare shoulder whispering carrying a message from a man she does not know eyes are watching my fingers need to touch the stone face it is cool and smooth and calls me to stay the sculptor smells of cedar chippings and cat mint he speaks of poetry and unrequited love I ask the names of all these old ones of stone and wood-- he does not know, and they stand silent among the herbs ~The Old Bungay Road, Norfolk, England
over the rail Joy McCall the stout landlady of the Sea and Shore pub leans against the bar-- and steel in her voice, calls `time gentlemen, please' peasants all, the sour-faced villagers down their ale-- and smoking rank roll-ups they stagger home a small group of drunken sailors call for more ale-- the old one stands sniffing, swaying on his feet a small child appears in the doorway crying `father'-- the old drunkard, white-faced, lays the tankard down back on the ship the seamen gather around their captain-- he stares at the dark sea, calling `my son, my son' ~Orford Ness, Suffolk, England
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traces of light Tim Lenton & Joy McCall
holding the shape Joy McCall & Tim Lenton
between the fields a path stretches outwards through mud and dust: I reach for distant forests, my intentions unclear
I dream now with my back against the ruined wall-- of spinners, weavers and the smell of damp wool
what waits there among the bare trees, calling to him? I hear the small voice of the east wind, crying
defiant flint in unsuspecting fields stands facing out shrugging off my pale lost years and intercepted light
this far north of summer, shades of green fade into the mist and skeletons wave to me in a persistent dream
my own light scattered these damp days into shadows-- my spirits falling, rain on the shallow moat
unsettled by this rutted path I turn away-- these furrowed fields hide old bones and dark secrets
holding the shape the old builder mapped out, fierce stone grips sky: even the fallen windows open my watering eyes
traces of light in the turn of the land uncovered here: nervous deer dance at the edge, balanced on history ~Suffield, England Inspired by
roofless walls once whole, this great hall fallen, silent-- I stare into the face of my own ruin ~Baconsthorpe Castle, Norfolk, England Inspired by
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a stirring of belief Joy McCall & Tim Lenton
erosion Tim Lenton & Joy McCall
I need now the clear sacredness of these old bells-- the kind call to prayer, the slow passing of time
where a road falls into the sudden sea, storm skies looming, hidden waves nibble away at the ground I stand on
with the promise of wine, a new world and living water: I bathe in familiar sounds, and unexpected light
how fragile are the crumbling cliffs of our island-- and deep in my bones the same slow eroding
on the wind Sunday morning bells across the field-- a distant old church, a stirring of belief
surface tension disguises solid roots beneath my feet: buried too far down for oceans to uncover
strange dreams break through into my pale green world of fading life, and I reach out for slivers of sharp reality
mammoth tusks caught in the layers, exposed by tides-- in all dark crevices some old light remains
splinters, shards, the breaking of things, a silent bell-- broken voices sing a deeper, lasting song ~Shotesham St. Mary, Norfolk, England Inspired by
fresh water flows down, hidden between bleak hill and bright valley: I catch a glimpse from my old and glistening cavern ~Happisburgh, Norfolk, England Inspired by
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the scent of ancestors Murasame & Matsukaze dark nights a storm calls the voice from the deep-- I cannot sing without wind and rain in this padded house a broad voice walks the length of these old floor boards-- outside wind and fury mice run under my worn oak floors in the night-- these small quiet things bring me strange comfort yesterday i was remembering the scent of our ancestors that i dropped somewhere in the cold underbrush the cracked bones of my kinfolk litter this land-- from every small green field their voices call to me ~Louisiana, USA/ Norfolk, England
asylum Murasame & Matsukaze do they haunt you these many women? the mad streets are not the place for a sleepless poet these women move around me sideways many eyes behold me in silent derision do they deride or are they dancing around you? a moth will always burn in the flame in the madhouse these women nod in passing shedding commonplace tears for something i've lost ask them then to give you what they find on the madhouse floor even a bowlful of tears can clean a deep wound ~Louisiana, USA / Norfolk, England
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Nevada Hills Matsukaze & Murasame beneath a persimmon sky in an old thatched cottage at a teak desk writing tanka a young man resting his chin on brown hands his head filled with music and dreams and old waka an aged wife stirring noodles after a long day when all is quiet seated in her room, one with darkness brown poet following his faith across the land noise all around him his soul patiently waiting from the picture window an overcast sky these little storms coming from Nevada hills ~Las Vegas, Nevada, USA / Norfolk, England
the burning day Matsukaze & Murasame knitting galaxies a fresh bowl of chokeberry blooms where is your fire i say where is your fire? the hayfield catches fire and burns on and on my wild spirit aches with loss after loss in this penitent morning rushing to the courtyard can i help but inhale the smoke and ashes of the burning day over the horizon? sins circling in the hot winds, torment my weary head I fall to my knees not expecting mercy am i branded with a scarlet letter do i move Hawthorne-like in the heat of day muttering my prayers? ~Louisiana, USA / Norfolk, England
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charred remains Matsukaze & Murasame in these eyes sometimes light sometimes darkened clouds and on some occasions the color of rain in brown eyes sometimes storms thunderclouds then the sun breaking through at other times in my eyes tsunamis hurricane force winds the crack of a cool wind the flash of a light'ning strike hits the walls I smell the burning of many dreams on some cold morning taking the steps two at a time down into my soul trying to salvage the charred remains of dreams ~Louisiana, USA / Norfolk, England
The Morrigan Returns Carole Johnston she stalks me in the shadows of morning I find black feathers in front of Starbucks I ignore the first sign shoving the feathers in my pocket I ignore the second sign crow prints on my windshield every morning the sun pops orange on the city fills the sky with copper light as feathers fall I ignore the third sign black wings stretched across the russet dawn a thousand feathers follow me my black wings beat with the hearts of a thousand crows ~Ireland The Morrigan is an ancient Irish trinity of goddesses, known to foreshadow death in the form of a crow.
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Siren Bernice Yap That figure by the lonely shore a love song calling to the sea white foam on her shoulders Stumble on dried grass, old sand grits your toes dragging over each wave as they cut into your feet The moon a cool pearl, ignoring her shadow the dark edge a cut hiding in her gaze She grins a mouth full of glass snags against your palm, your hand they tear the flesh out ~Australia
The Birthday Party Sergio Ortiz Gambia. Alhaji, twenty-one and gay, had been planning his birthday for months. The guest list carefully locked away; there was that real threat of decapitation to consider. However, he could no longer find peace by avoiding life. how old is need, how knotted are the corridors of loneliness? Imam, there is no angel with an orange by my bed His friends gathered by the poolside, each with his past shut in him like the leaves of a book, eyeing the uninvited guest snapping photographs. freedom is a fire that runs like a staircase up then down-- my lover's lips the color of soft-skin mangoes ~Gambia
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Striding Eagle Brian Zimmer for Joy as if I were a mirror to shatter the stone eagle steps forth unchained from its common plinth psychopomp guardian of the dead do you miss the corner burden that kept you flightless? see what I see and the artist saw predation of every stone eye follows sepia and song bow of wings does not portend escape flex of strength is not the curve of flight your bones never hollow ave, ave, the despair of the body parted from its destiny meets fate head-on
Agitator Marilyn Humbert My youngest brother is untamed. More than a rebel, he is an anarchist. I don't understand his choices, but he's my brother and I love him. I wait with my brother in this small room without windows only a cold metal seat My father chose to turn his back and walk away. while his son waits for trial-- he weeds dandelions heads from his manicured lawn My brother chatters away to me about this and that--does he not realise . . . stifled by the air inside I walk outside to the endless roar of freeway traffic ~Mt Druitt Courthouse cells, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Striding Eagle, 16th-century, Venetian marble; Artist: Unknown; Saint Louis Art Museum. Originally a funerary object supporting a sarcophagus, eagles symbolic of Christ's Ascension into Heaven & the Resurrection of the Dead. Working in Italy, sketches of this sculpture were made by Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens, in the 17th century.
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Unnamed Road Marilyn Humbert our bike paws the tar band hungrily-- the thrum of pulsing hearts my arms encircle his leather-clad waist windblown hair tangled days drift into days trees snap by birds rise, wheel and swoop we attack the curves of this untamed road stopped, roadside-- leaves on sprawling trees brush my face fingers unknot twisted curls the smell of leather and fuel on we plunder bitumen and back roads to the dimness of night ~Outback, NT, Australia
Katsura Riky Marilyn Humbert strolling through Katsura gardens I spy the moon in the lotus pond washing his round face weeping boughs over Miyuka pathway Heian feet on worn river stones beneath my steps Gepparo Teahouse snug among pines-- I sip warmed water fragrant with leaves a path of white stone framed by blossom on tangled wood, whisper of distant voices wooded islands in Katsura grounds in the shadows sighs of a prince and his lady ~Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto Japan
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Sky Blue Genie Nakano a woman inside a sky blue room she waits for emptiness to be filled it's been weeks now how long will it take the hours turn into days, nights into weeks weeks into another day seagulls screech fly into grey clouds piercing their birth sacs rain begins to fall and she waits scent of earth after fallen rain the air, ground, city streets she sniffs her hands and arms she is back again fall, falling, flow sorrow flows underground waves come and go she embraces the gift asks no questions ~United States
Reasons to Not Return Geoffrey Winch old friends' homes where we drew real ale straight from the barrel long-buried beneath this junction: that taste travelled with me brewers, biscuit-bakers, dignified people digging the vistas of bulb fields: those traditional trades smothered by the new once again we return to the crem: how many more dreams to ashes memories to dust? where I was schooled, played guitar, began to flower by miles evermore distant even more by years as does the town this junction keeps growing: latest gantry signs tell of parts that never were never will be part of me ~Junction 11, M4 Motorway, south of Reading; and the town of Reading, Berkshire, UK
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Lost Worlds Jenny Ward Angyal snowmelt from mountain glaciers blesses Pachamama's belly . . . her rising fever chills me breathless at 13,000 feet I blow softly across two coca leaves . . . the ritual of wishes twilight in the Temple of Virgins on Moon Island-- I leave an offering of blood-red gladiolus the Uru people live on islands made of reeds cut adrift I reach for the shore in this river of stars ~Peru & Bolivia
Childhood of Christ Gerry Jacobson Back there it's dark, cold. Melting snow, slush. What's it all about? I'm outside it. Why do they sing carols? Why Christmas trees? It's all around me but I am not part of. Ask questions. The adults deride it, yiddish it as "Crutzmuss" or something like that. I soon learn it's not kosher for a little Jewish boy. Like the bacon smell in the grocer's shop. We have our own winter festival, Chanukah. Huddling together around the candles. Singing hymns in ancient Hebrew. And "Chanukah gelt", gifts of money. A sop to Jewish children living in an alien world. Years later, in another life. On stage in Llewellyn Hall. In the choir for Berlioz' oratorio "Childhood of Christ". A sudden flash of recognition. "What's a little Jewish boy doing up here singing about baby Jesus?" And "Is my mother turning in her grave?" belonging not belonging longing now is the dance of my disconnect ~London, England and Canberra, Australia
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Crossroads
Charles Tarlton
CARMODY: You see that? Fifty cars or more, all with their headlights on. Some dignitary's funeral? BLIGHT: Or some other kind of parade. lingering rain now its wildest rhythms slowed--direct me, Lord ta-dum, ta-dum--a tedium at the blackened lychgate No funeral today, but it's not like nobody has died. News circulates from all corners of the dying world--of murder, accident, disease, and thousands lost in a flood, gone overboard, or starved. Life struggles on against the dying, against the cold statistics of despair. sad, sad, Columbine raw combination of dove and eagle's talon delicately blue and white uncomprehending star night lay frozen in a sullen graying hush thuds and scratching gone I hoped to talk to the moon when it finally appeared
and again silence threatens to invade the sad rhythms of the dead slowed to stop--direct me, Lord ta-dum, ta-dum, a tedium Gratefully, I was walking back from the grave, sending my thoughts to any other place, urging them away, when it abruptly ceased to rain. The tree bark soaked was darker now, and the lawn sparkled in the wet as if baskets of shattered glass had spilled, but either no one noticed or all were so gorged with emotion they could not muster more. the plain fact of it there has to be an end to death and dying for the living to get on with the little that is left that storm withdrew while sheets of the yellow sun snapped over the lawns like the new-making of a bed or a table festive set comes hopeful sunshine to guy our long sad faces
The stars are nearly out, flamboyant, lustrous in a sky made obviously of arched Plexiglas. And the wind is blowing hard down here against the slinky yielding trees, the trees glad for the exercise now their leaves have dropped, and the leaves skip and swirl, dancing for all the world. then our rain tires lets angled sweeps of sunlight fall overwrought across strewn muddy puddles down from the littlest twigs
He bent over there at the edge of the cemetery and picked something up. "What did you find," his brother asked, walking along, "the end of a string?" "The end of something," he answered, "we'll have to see where it leads." I hawk out--direct me, Lord ta-dum, ta-dum--a tedium quit at the blackened lychgate
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Shading Charles Tarlton CARMODY: They were afraid you were coming. They were sure you wouldn't have one nice thing to say. BLIGHT: But you all look so lovely, I mean, really lovely. I was a child in southern California and we had a garden where my mother raised a few potatoes, green beans, onions, and carrots. The weather was dry and hot so we had to water the plants every day from a hose connected to the house. One day, about when I usually did the watering, it started to rain. The sky turned gray and seemed to lean down very close to everything. I stood in what was suddenly almost darkness, the unfamiliar rain soaking the vegetables, and I could have been anywhere-- like France, you know, or China in the movies. the rain just hisses so where did you get the idea it hopes to rinse away our sins or sadness --rain mixes its own dish under a low tree transfixed in passing headlights at dark noon see the lonely boy dream he's a wild Apache scout the air is inky black and I cannot even see my eyes blink this is that fine parchment where here and gone is written In a winter apple orchard, amidst the thistle and broom of the empty branches, here and there an apple was missed and waits, waits in the snow. But the shadows are too long now, the days too short, and ice hangs under the smallest twig, drops of ice hanging where dew or rain froze one dark morning. When the leaves come back, everything seems to suggest, when the leaves come back . . . .
you could barely breathe when the orange blossoms were thick as soap suds thermal winds pushed fondant swells up into the mountains you could arrive at the airport in sandals get on the flight and get off where you needed a parka and fur-lined boots peasant hands, thick fingers, their meatiness belying concert pianist but a pencil stuck in there scratches out feathery verse From the highway, mountains of the Swiss Alps, their names unknown to me, rise up like cataclysms of stone, rocks bigger than you could ever imagine rocks to get, flat faces of granite a mile high and two miles wide. People live in villages tossed like grain for birds or chickens around their base, around the lowest slopes where grass still grows. These people must believe in these mountains, throw themselves down in front of--what? It's hard to name it, because "mountainous" is a word that already indicates massive (or more). at Quйribus where the wind blew us off the mountain a hundred weary soldiers clawing their way up, and in they cut deep pits in Malta to get the stone to build their churches and the fortress Citadel they devoured the island at the airport waiting to fly home two months in Europe are already forgotten time blown along in the wind
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Calliope/My Ex: Love/Trouble Maker Chen-ou Liu Written on October 25th, 2013, 42nd anniversary of the expulsion of Taiwan (Officially the Republic of China) from the United Nations
I am not into her anymore but I promise to make her live forever in my love poetry revising for hours in dim light the muse and I straddle the thin line between pleasure and pain our laughter and conversation penetrate this winter night's silence . . . the shadow and I Medusa on top in the sex scenes of a movie . . . my ex does the same in my winter dreams the red line set and my credibility on the line: every snowy night just one dream with my ex first sunrise . . . I keep rehearsing Hi! Miss Lee, nice to meet you before the old mirror
for a week writing poems for my blind date the muse and I like two mice with our legs caught in a glue trap
the chill air this Easter morning . . . Miss Lee, my ex and the muse morph into one
Oh, you are a published writer Fan Lee sounds like my ex . . . alone with the muse
trapped for hours in a labyrinth of words the muse and I stand facing each other under the blazing sun
awash in Summertime and moonlight Fan Lee whispers my tanka of longing
La petite morte rolling off her tongue . . . for me now there is no separation between sex and poetry
for Roland Barthes
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artistic masturbation! when I remember my ex's cutting remark something shrinks sex is sex, nothing more and nothing less . . . I comb through Fan's words in search of nuance a tanka the site of a struggle for meaning . . . is my dispute with the muse cloaked in clichйd images ? Madame Bovary divided by Fan's bookmark will our dreams be overlapping on this midsummer night? Fan and my ex carve out their spaces in my thoughts the harvest moon hangs high over the Taiwan Strait the muse rising from a sea of words covers her breasts . . . I am pregnant with verses of longing Fan cries out, Your ex stands between us . . . water stains on my first chapbook, The Border as Fiction Fan Lee's face blurring into my ex . . . in the attic the cold air sucked in and out with my shadows
the muse's face in the lake of my mind I fish for words rippling from our ancient past the past like a headless ghost . . . this ache in my heart keeps me awake my poetic mind emptied by snowy loneliness-- I'm hungry for passion fruit a purple rose tattooed on my ex's bosom we used to sing California dreamin' on such a winter's day walking alone with my old shepherd on Christmas day the tumultuous crowding of memories first sunlight slanting through the window . . . I realize my ex's shadow and my own will never meet again my New Year poem, writing is making love to the muse . . . a raw primal pleasure coming in wave after wave ~Ajax, Canada; Toronto, Canada; Taiwan Strait, Taiwan
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Brane Grgurovic Alenka Zorman, Slovenian-English Translator / slovenska-anglesko prevajalka Odpiram okno za novoletni pogled v sirjave morja. Od nekod se spusca galeb. Ah, streha ni moja! I open the window for the new year's view of the wide sea. A gull flies from somewhere. Ah, the roof isn't mine! ~Slovenija / Slovenia
In a spring evening the crescent moon sinks into a stormy cloud. A grey-haired woman moans in her wheelchair. Po topli plohi jadralec preleti nebo v barvi mavrice. Cvetni list se osuje s tulipana v vazi. After a warm shower a hang glider flies across the iridescent sky. A petal falls off the tulip in my vase.
Matjaz Tevz Potocnik Alenka Zorman, Slovenian-English Translator / slovenska-anglesko prevajalka Se neolistan se hrast dviguje v pomladno nebo. Z bliznje hise odpade poslednji kos ometa. Still leafless an oak stretches to the spring sky. The last piece of plaster falls off the nearby house. Pomladni vecer. Prvi krajec potone v nevihtni oblak. Siva zenica tarna v invalidskem vozicku.
V tisini jutra valovijo v soncu jesenske trave. Mimo okna gre sklonjena senca neznanca. Autumn grasses wave in the sunshine of a silent morning. A bent stranger's shadow passes by the window. V zimskem jutru spatifil na polici odpira bel cvet. Trepet maminih ustnic govori o bolecini. In a winter morning Spathiphyllum on the shelf opens its white blossom. My mother's trembling lips speak about the pain. ~Slovenija / Slovenia
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Alenka Zorman Alenka Zorman, Slovenian-English Translator / slovenska-anglesko prevajalka Dalec vsaksebi s prijateljem poslusava isto pesem . . . V pomladnem veceru zaustavljava cas. Wide apart my friend and I listen to the same music. In the spring evening we try to stop time. Neznani ptic je na balkonu odlozil puhasto pero. Sanjarim o tebi, kako me primes za roko. An unknown bird has left its feather on my balcony. I am daydreaming of him who holds my hand. Vnuk odpotuje. Na morskem obrezju joka babica-- z milnimi mehurcki v trepetavi roki. Grandson departs. His granny cries on the seashore-- with a bottle of soap bubbles in her trembling hand.
Sanjam svoj poljub na njegovi rami in svojo mamo, ki nemo blagoslavlja najino toplo blizino. I dream about my kiss on his arm, and about my mum who wordlessly blesses our warm closeness. ~Slovenija / Slovenia Ivanka Kostantino Alenka Zorman, Slovenian-English Translator / slovenska-anglesko prevajalka Vecerno nebo si v kodrasto pricesko vpleta zarec trak. V reki derocih misli iscem drobce otrostva. Evening sky interweaves a red ribbon in its curly hair. The rapids of my thoughts search for the pieces of my childhood. ~Slovenija / Slovenia
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Elizabeth Howard after I dump her body I enter the bedroom her red wig on the dresser the eyes white and staring the echo of her voice a treacherous journey through night snow to the hidden cabin-- a wiry strand of gray hair in my old cup out of emptiness a broad white wing waving or is it tail or fin? who or what the creature with my message of the day? winter dusk wraiths rise out of the smoke wisp across the hearth gather in dark corners whispering hoarsely flickering streetlight in the mirror the old drunk's shadow staggers once again through the empty house exploring an old graveyard spider silk and Spanish moss smother my face creatures slither through the leaves I flee, crows calling, caw, caw dead and gone for three days it's Aunt Lucy calling throughout the night where is my gold ring? where my gold teeth?
he comes walking but how--him sick to death I wave as I have ever done he turns, stares unseeing his eyes, glazed mirrors ~Tennessee, USA Diana Teneva behind the well you appear thirsty for love . . . the kiss you dare not give to me the treetops scribbling in the sky my name can you read it from where you are a snowman with a nose shortened by a sparrow . . . my daughter wants an Eskimo kiss following Ariadne's thread I rummage my mind mazes ~Bulgaria
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Margaret Van Every the dead return on their day of honor miss their friends and family mole and tequila rancheras at top decibel despite their efforts to make them scared of hell the church will never win: fearing life more than death Mexicans embrace the skeleton if only we donned our mask and cape rang the bell and waited for the door to open invite us in for sweets this fecund population bound to the church not by the promise of eternal life but for love of the virgins here and now in Yucatбn the talking crosses* speak in Maya only the gospel of revolt to ears attuned to suffering dнa de los muertos in this ancient Mayan village the bones are brought to light scrubbed with remembrance returned to earth another year
Mixtec pueblo-- they greet us barefoot on dirt floors we buy rugs and candles and learn to measure progress by how well we hold back time ~Mexico *The first Talking Cross is said to have spoken in Chan Santa Cruz,Yucatбn, in 1850. In the Mayan tongue, it urged the enslaved workers of the sisal haciendas to revolt. The location became the capital of the Caste War (1847-1901). The cult of Talking Crosses still exists in Yucatбn. Karla Linn Merrifield Florida titans half green algae half fungus lives a double life-- one chloroplast is said to quench your thirsty giant heart Florida's airplants soft starburst spines dripping dew Spanish moss draping-- one quiet breath is said to replenish the emptied soul ~Florida, USA
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Vasile Moldovan Coming out majestically from the veil of mist Sphinx in the Carpathians . . . What he can read in the stars because his silence is so deep? Waked from sleep a dizzy child smells the fresh air of this pure morn breathing God himself I stare at the sky outstretched on the grass . . . the scattered clouds hide for a moment the Lord's countenance Maybe this is the first celestial sign after the tempest: the enemy camps united by the rainbow Angel voice or human speaking? always the same resounding cymbal just like a bronze bell Only an old man in the empty bedroom all alone just like the Lord in the Garden of Eden ~Romania
Kath Abela Wilson purple butterfly my feathers a cauldron a mask sing a potion stirring insects and birds a blue bag of bones inside my backpack into the night I "do" the jailhouse stairs ~Pasadena, California, USA a grandson runs back under the bed scared of himself staying home spooky night to trash his costume ~San Diego, California, USA macabre white coated workers in the laboratory needles and pins round em up roughnecks from bad dream moving company ~Santa Barbara, California, USA on our wedding day we heard about his fall my estranged father my jealous first love chose that day to die ~Pasadena, California; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA my dad left my mom for her how sad she confided after he died in her dementia he lived downstairs with another woman ~Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
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gay bashing attack the old haunt above the bay cross country my dream of you dying on a stretcher ~Staten Island, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
the night I teased him by putting beer in his soup he sent nasty emails to all our friends about me and the witch's brew ~Pasadena, California, USA
he brought mom cold-cuts after the affair his son appalled at betrayal so when he did the same he avoided cold cuts ~Brooklyn, New York ; Staten Island, New York, USA
his monstrous shouts I all night awake afraid wrapped in a white sheet if this had been a ghost story it would have been better ~Santa Barbara, California, USA
sound of a rocker in grandma's room she'd call in the priest for last rites a prescription for her daily dose of spirits flying nun 6th grade class threw everyone's books out the window little old black bonnet head making the tough guys cry Kathy Noonan first grade if you read this you know it's true you chased me heavy clomp red mane from school all the way home high school sweetheart he worked in a butcher shop enchanted I gave him entrails from my biology dissections he gave me extra organs ~Staten Island, New York, USA
since I became pregnant without intercourse in the course of pregnancy I worried I might have a dog but of course I didn't ~Bryan, Texas, USA Toki I have heard tell of the ogress Asin: huckleberries are hers and hers alone, and her voice foretells death youth pastor says bow down to Christ or burn in Hell then strums as we sing of God's unconditional love ~Pacific Northwest, USA
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Patricia Prime in sultry thunder an enormous blue moon hangs in the darkening sky-- this is the day of the dead when spirits rise from graves like a thriller in Hitchcock vein costumed revelers on Halloween night chase each other down the street Shhh--there are vampires knocking on the door--be quiet! You can have the money and sweets--all of it yourselves I say to my grandchildren the spook touches me on my bare forearm his hand folded round the haft of a knife as he demands `trick or treat' the most profound and deadliest of Bosch's visions his own hell beneath the illusions based on medieval facts fox-trotting at the Halloween Ball dancers dressed as Satan and an angel their wings ethereal round the Ouija board the marker summons up letters-- there's a loud scream when a girl sees her dead mum's name ~New Zealand
Debbie Johnson a vulture circles a bloody rabbit carcass which reminds me how much I desire to taste your blood tonight a left foot wanders the night in search of body feels incomplete just as I feel empty when you are away under full moonlight a tombstone casts its shadow over fresh grave site mirrors the darkness I feel since your untimely demise heavy fog covers abandoned cemetery eerie music plays as a skeleton's ribs are strummed by a ghost ~Iowa, USA Christina Nguyen it's not the fact we're selling you short girls it's the fact we're selling you ~Minnesota, USA
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LeRoy Gorman Medusa had it all worked out in vitro & no more men but then she lost her head a new bridge between nations trolls on both sides take up their positions no phitter-phatter of little bigfoot feet on the forest floor where we clearcut our footprint is large sleep all day & skip classes at night teen vampires are not all that unusual puts out the most candy the vampire gussied up as a vamp thought it was your face I saw in the crowd but no it was Halloween a debutante but still a nobody the lake monster yet to be named hard to get into Bram Stoker with you dear masked for Halloween nibbling at my neck
zombie carollers do they practice before groaning silent night to death sex with Circe bangles made from bones of men who came up short as animals do they rattle Odysseus tourists gone the Sasquatch looks a little older fading into forest for another winter a tank battle lasts fifteen minutes on the history channel the reaper has a laugh that lasts forever a whir in the dark the wingbeats of dragons the wingbeats of wind turbines ~Canada Matthew Caretti to cross over the dark river styx a worn coin for memories of ghosts no longer there curses lost in tutankhamun's vault found again in the bazaar my wallet gone ~Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
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Radhey Shiam a ghost in guise of a saint entered temple went away singing with the golden idol a ghost recites the Bible every Sunday morning sitting near a grave the watchman is puzzled chilly night a lady slipped into my bed to my horror she was a ghost a group of ghosts enjoys feast of bones and wine near the graveyard midnight at her son's grave she offered flowers to her surprise she found her son smiling before her in the graveyard sounds of a piano I looked around a lady in white laughs at me ruins of a palace I still hear sounds of a piano ladies laughter clapping of hands
long line of devotees struggle to get an early chance a stampede fifty devotees injured forty killed after a holy dip I sat on the bank of Ganga the mother Ganga appeared and blessed me sitting on wings of a butterfly an elephant flew in the sky landed on Everest and met a snow fairy an aged lady on the unique carpet flew higher and higher landed at White House to surprise the President gamble at Dewali night is ceremonial blessing a drunkard put his wife on bet and lost her the priest sacrificed a buffalo to goddess Durga to bless the couple with a baby on her way to the temple she saw a round stone she worshiped the stone offered water and flowers and returned home a monk with a bowl stands at the road a passer by dropped a dead fish in the bowl ~India
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Tish Davis allowing us to tour its lighthouse, it rubs against my ankles invisible gray cat at Fairport Harbor in the pumpkin patch far behind the farmhouse the wind-up bear still searching for his lost boy ~Ohio, USA Paul Mercken Paul Mercken, Dutch-English Translator de meester vraagt waarom dwaal je weg van de school het visje antwoordt omdat het vakantie is the master asks why do you stray away from the school the little fish answers because it's a holiday ~The Netherlands
Amada Burgard a young girl sits, eyes to the fire awakening spirits, she speaks to the trees in darkest forests, on darkest nights, the slendermen gather, to offer frights dark trees, under moonlight, the black wolf stumbles, becoming man crows bow, spirits take refuge, the wise woman wanders amongst the trees the raging moon holds no power upon the will of the trees the autumn trees witness scattered in a field bones of the sacred, magic of the wind ~The Black Forest, Germany
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Nu Quang opening the door . . . George Bush and Dick Cheney shout "trick or treat" I fill their bags with bowls of Tootsie Rolls waking at midnight I feel a hand press my shoulder lying flat I hear footsteps disappearing out of the window moonless night walking past a cemetery she starts to run hearing sobs footsteps follow her ~United States my first pilgrimage to the Black Lady Mountain I gaze out at the dawning sky a goddess standing on clouds ~Vietnam
Gerry Jacobson moonlight . . . approaching the Mother through a field gate . . . the grizzled kisses of the ancestors ~Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England leaning against his headstone . . . two hundred years . . . closing my eyes the veil is thin ~Lamas churchyard, Norfolk, England Finis Terre where the world ends I'll never get there now . . . for me there is another ~Cape Finisterre, Galicia, Spain twenty five gaunt and dying how did he feel . . . never became Shakespeare never slept with Fanny? ~Keats House, Hampstead, England
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Joy McCall all soul's night and through the empty park the shadows creep and through the long lonely dark a young woman weeps down the dark hall of the old manor Anne Boleyn carries her severed head under her arm ~Blicking Hall, Norfolk, UK the black dog howls in the night, haunting these flatlands-- village children wake screaming, dark Shuck snarling at the door ~Bungay, Suffolk, UK midnight and at the pub door the hanged priest knocks-- the weary landlord brings the penitential ale ~The Buck Inn, Norwich, UK the ferry drifts down and across the river on the tides-- night after night, plague souls leave the doomed village ~Surlingham Ferry, Norfolk, UK two a.m. writing dark tanka I wonder-- is some far-future human dreaming me? ~United Kingdom
Susan Burch accused of witchcraft her breasts were cut off and force-fed to her sons the bitter taste of humiliation Based on true story of Anna Pappenheimer. leaving her house barefoot in the rain his bloody footprints run down the gutter from my window I can almost see the hole in the old oak tree the cache of panties the police couldn't find sitting in McDonald's depressed though everything says, "I'm lovin' it" detained for shoplifting at Macy's my teenage daughter yells, "see! here's my receipt!" to the man, face blood red riding the metro the b.o., perfumes, stronger as the doors close a stranger takes my breath away ~United States
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Autumn Noelle Hall Halloween yowl a white tom mooning between pumpkins yearning for his yin-- black cat on the prowl 10-second shutter turns her into a ghost this daughter who once tried to kill herself now in living black-and-white licking his name off the calavera she tastes only the sweetness of his life Dнa de los Muertos epitaph: died laughing when asked how much she'd earned for her poems Dнa de los Muertos calaveras literarias herbalists, healers, knowledge-keepers spelled into witches and scattered like kernels beaten from broom corn I hear tell they once lynched Italians in N'Orleans . . . any head can wear a hood any neck, a noose dad's careful carving eye for eye, tooth for tooth all lit up some punk beats our pumpkin to a pulp--SMASH
black cat sinks a single crescent claw deeper . . . the waning moon pulls me into its velvet night with this candle beneath your chin, call her name three times: Bloody Mary . . . Bloody Mary . . . have no fear --it's just a tanka mirror Ochtertyre round Samhain fire, a stone for every man . . . come morning, they'll live out the year, all those whose stones remain looting my kids' loot to find my favorite chocolate treats-- a Halloween trick I gleaned by my parents' example the princess bloated from the coat stuffed underneath her gown her crown a-top a ski-cap --Iowa Halloween Samhain sills of Erin where turnip lanterns ward away the Fae . . . from far and starved for magick my Irish blood bids them stay the spice of sage from the arroyo, it raises all their hopes for a safe border-crossing pinned on the pumpkin-pie moon Halloween birthday he drops treats in goodie sacks tricked into thinking those elaborate costumes were all donned just for him ~United States
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Natsuko Wilson walking to my parked car on the street after jury duty i get a parking ticket-- a welcome relief to return-to-life on the wall of the dental surgeon's office a laser-operated photo of a landscape exposes every detail of the trees a dandelion through a crack in the concrete path between the buildings is about to bloom so alone but proudly ~Ontario, Canada Nilufer Y. Mistry marauding shamal her blinding wall of sand overcasts . . . sandblasts our sleek city towers our walls of glass sunrise for the faithful light desert-dunes on fire & rose-rimmed sandstone minarets flare crimson above the Adhan whispered on the wind ~Dubai, United Arab Emirates
gennepher hanging on the wall a puppet on a string shadows advance on the sleeping child the child woke up with a start a witch in black outside her bedroom window on her broomstick ~Southampton, England the child played on the marshes a gibbet remained by the stile the rotten rope perfectly still skeletal hulks of prison ships rotting ribcages rising out of the mudflats ~Marshes, River Medway, Kent, England, UK
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Joanne Morcom headless bodies in 200 Mile Gorge where men searched for gold and found instead a wendigo more than a legend the Jersey Devil lurks in the Pine Barrens a solitary hunter of warm blooded creatures ~Jersey Barrens, New Jersey, USA no such thing as alien abduction I'm only dreaming about a planet ruled by lizards searching for Cthulhu in the wilds of Rhode Island expedition members first lose their way then their sanity I read aloud from the Necronomicon to summon the Old Ones but they don't come to do my bidding summertime and the grave robbing is easy I find a use for every body part badlands a good place for digging graves the only watchers spiders and snakes ~Rhode Island, USA
Jenny Ward Angyal only bones under the turned earth of Bloody Kansas-- those passenger pigeons the Choctaw called lost doves ~Kansas, USA a priest told her no Jews allowed in heaven-- she raised me under a white oak and named it Paradise ~Connecticut, USA the shark's tooth like a dragon's tongue filling my palm bubbles of sea foam on shifting sand ~North Carolina, USA slow down slow down the song of the wood thrush until at last it echoes the music of humpbacked whales ~Virginia, USA
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C. William Hinderliter jack-o-lantern smile the glint from the carving knife of the scarecrow on my doorstep divorce court decree she points out the small print of our prenup signed in blood cemetery moon strolling through the fog on the long way home the graveyard whistles back enchanted forest the crunch of the frost on the old deer trail the howl of the wind and the wolves on my trail forbidden love . . . the ghosts of my past still haunting me the sound of the "wind" as it rattles my door ~Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Pravat Kumar Padhy my shadow lengthens towards light the cry of owl reminds me in dream it is still midnight past, present and future embedded in Krishna's* mouth the far off dust, dark and dance of fire through Hubble Space telescope *In the Hindu religion books it is narrated how Lord Krishna manifested the spectrum of universe to his mother, Yoshoda, by opening his mouth. Nataraja* in cosmic dance God particles sparkle the stillness in the discovery tunnel *Natraja is regarded as cosmic dancer and is depicted of God Shiva. Boddhi tree--* in deep meditation closing my eyes I turn within discovering reflection of sound and light *Boddhi tree is regarded as the sacred tree, located in Bodh Gaya, India. Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under the tree. ~India
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Matsukaze house full of local children gathering for a seance-- next door a grandmother dies abandoned cemetery a shawl of mist damp leaves, their brittle sound unnerves the children Day of The Dead my neighbor's son thinks it's cute to dress up as rotting flesh grandma later found at grandad's grave rehashing the years they enjoyed everyone in the neighborhood avoids Mrs. McDougal's dark home-- she sacrificed her baby this Halloween had a party and we opted to watch `Rosemary's Baby' each Halloween the children scared by Mr. Harkless in the cemetery calling for his dead lover
an old abandoned cabin-- consulting a medium, she searches for a vein in my arm each year buying costumes and candy, Nana warns us about devils and demons my friend tells me the Mayor's wife conducts a black mass in the basement of St. Matthew's Methodist Church outskirts of town-- several deranged ones escape the local asylum on Halloween-- Marlice Hammond's daughter disappears dear sister, you were on my mind; i, a brown rabbi paced the length of dry corridors reciting *berakhah *berakhah: Hebrew for blessings/benedictions it was while standing in line i wondered were you ok, in that quiet town of Norwich? wanted to send you several waka in two lines so their arms could hold you, suspending you in a blues of love ~Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA
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Deborah P. Kolodji lake ripples of a son's last sighting . . . el vestido blanco de La Llorona midnights and full moons our howls echoing each other a sudden chill and neck pin pricks . . . it's midnight in the Queen Mary boiler room another argument about ghosts: the unexplained light blob on your photograph ~Kern County, California, USA
Janet Lynn Davis breathless, will I ever slow down my racing thoughts? a roadrunner pauses on the sunlit grass ~Grimes County, Texas, USA a cottontail camping out in a bed of garlic . . . why am I drawn to things that ought to repel me? ~home, Grimes County, Texas, USA reflections leap off the water . . . a statue beside the Roman Pool of Diana and the Stag ~Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California, USA
Alexander Jankiewicz a figure at my doorway translucent turning toward me sleepless in bed full moon dreams hearing echoes of childhood ghosts from the past whispering my name ~Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
at the ER a fleeting connection . . . the screams of an unseen stranger echoing mine ~emergency center, Tomball, Texas, USA mission bells above the garden-- Joy, Sorrow and at the center Gloria ~San Luis Obispo, California , USA
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Robert Annis the tree branch hydras over coffee mugs one day I'll call my hands gnarled bed sheets drying in the sun my father insists I sleep more three crows French braid the air a rise and fall dance before the storm the train crawls in its stern blue steel singing midnight the cicadas slept their seventeen years all at once Christmas lights web October branches abandoned an ice cube melts in a sweating glass my father's finger maps out our road trip in the old atlas a dead friend lives through hidden photographs in the stairwell black ants dismantle a cicada --the shrinking corpse of summer midnight plums cool in kitchen shade I could not wait for breakfast to eat them
moth wings silent beneath the fan staring into the light you fall asleep without wind the rain falls in bars so straight and thin I might slip through completely dry pink sunset bouquets the boulevard palm tree crowns pinball in a rogue gust umbrella shadows jellyfish on the sidewalk dancing to a polyrhythm of sopping shoes the naked summit peeks through tufts of fine nimbus his brown halo just a bit wider than mine on the tracks we balance, pushing against the other's hand to stay upright the lake laps my ankles slowly I sink into black mud holding a slack line the waiting room is full of anxious limbs --an empty chair and clipboard between each of us
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a lean doe stoops to nibble weeds from my lawn I douse the headlights in favor of the moon a purple flower peeks out from the green of my garden I reach slowly and pull the weed at last electric night beams from headlights --reflections from the frozen eyes of a deer into mine a hungry cloud nibbles the moon I fall asleep to electric rain pouring from the speaker my father's attic holds its hot breath --a photograph of me fishing with a dead uncle the grass pales thirsty under a clear sky flies circle a forgotten trash bag its sleek black shining WALLACE STEVENS sends his blackbird to taunt me its shadow warbles just beneath my pen ~Florida, USA in Central Park October wind spreads leaves in waves a homeless woman sketches deciduous branches
nine stories over Times Square a maid folds sheets with her eyes closed singing in Chinese subway car my brother and I double check that it's empty before doing pull-ups ~New York City, New York, USA hiking mount Rainier winter is slow to leave my first snowball burns my hand in June ~Southeast of Seattle, Washington, USA Ernesto P. Santiago the "nine-dash line", and yet another dash --Spratly Islands, my eyes wide as skies as I read "The Iliad" August full moon at the Athens Acropolis, wandering bards-- I surround myself with patience to lift me higher ~Greece
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Zoe Savina Constantine Fourakis, Greek-English Translator ` . . . . . . I'd like something that will not betray me, a God or friend, yet, love it may not be and I mourn betrayals . . . -- ! a cut pomegranate a small robin pecks on it . . . a bright red mouth --sought by others too for this year's good luck! -- ' the first blooming on the bank of your lips, a rainbow --an effacement of anger in only seven colours
-- ' an old guitar, a shadow of fingers the arm is naked with a tattooed bird twittering sweetly ~Greece Geoffrey Winch clearly as the sea Blake saw Milton never envisioned restaurant sailing-club beach-huts tennis-courts houses putting-green ~William Blake's cottage, Felpham, West Sussex, UK coffin-lid ledger stones with blazoned swords or crosses but no written legends: could be crusaders buried beneath this nave ~St Wilfrid's Chapel, Church Norton, West Sussex, UK
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Michael Dylan Welch continuing drizzle-- in the flood plain inside the Japanese dyke bales of hay rolled just like Nebraska ~along the Mogawa River, near Gifu, Japan I'm a taxidermist says the other man in my rain-streaked shared cab-- me too, says the driver ~New York City, New York, USA up late the night before our flight to Japan-- again I zip and then unzip our suitcase ~California, USA Pat Geyer buttercups in sunshine, these little cups of gold . . . i share a chalice of rain with my thirsty garden fairy ~USA
Alexis Rotella In a Paris cafй a white angora on a velvet cushion eating bits of filet each dipped in cream. ~Paris, France The bell of the lily beside the priest as he gives my father his last rites. ~Windber, Pennsylvania, USA The sea has many ears the old woman with deep apron pockets tells my brother and me. ~Rehobeth, Delaware, USA Is Santa real I ask my uncle-- as real as Jack Frost he says. The child I was visits the old woman who lives by the creek as leeches suck bad blood from her tumored arms. ~Cairnbrook, Pennsylvania, USA
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Eamonn O'Neill my Ireland the lady asks what can I tell her-- we have rivers and we have dreams we grow old in Ireland realising that our lives could topple the Church of Rome at my age I begin to dream again of words there is tenderness in Ireland amidst the fairy tales these killers get close they shoot uncaring it's all about the next fix in Dublin any night in the posh shop doorways our huddled homeless most people don't give a shit in Dublin by the Liffey's side the boardwalk junkies hell he waits for a fix sure I'm already dead the fucks it to you anyway
I trawl the birth records for my elder brother born dead would he have protected me would I now be whole my born dead brother was never talked about my mother of the secrets took to her grave so much of the unsaid my younger brother doesn't talk to me and I don't talk to him this legacy of the unsaid is frightening suddenly this anger yet just for today I curse those who stole my soul I read those pretty poems as if pretty makes you cry but I can dig deep to the darkness of the dead is this what it's all about this rawness of the gut you turn out the light and there are only plastic flowers ~Dublin, Ireland
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Poetry and Melancholy: Jeffrey Woodward's Another Garden Reviewed by Charles Tarlton
Introduction of black is the key to the late intensity of color, the foil for his generous palette . . . . (1) The first four sections of Another Garden, a hundred pages or so, are made up of selections from Woodward's tanka, tanka sequences, and tanka prose. These are in turn divided up into four sections: A Deck of Cards, Partial Census, Blue Flag, and The Simple News. A fifth and final section, Lagniappe, contains two influential essays by Woodward and an interview with Woodward conducted by Claire Everett. All three of these prose pieces deal with Woodward's views of the history and future of tanka and tanka prose in English. I will consider the poetry first and then at the end turn briefly to the critical writings. waste places and disturbed sites Right across the poems in Another Garden we can detect a persistent underlying rhythm of melancholy. There are poems about faded youth, about lost and faithless love, about dashed hopes and dreams; there are poems about lives ground down by misfortune, failure, madness, death, resignation, and routine, and there are poems about regret and foreboding. Here and there, the poet musters up brief moments of ironic optimism in which he takes a stand for hope or even happiness against these tendencies, but like stick writing on the beach, the waves of fatalism wash up again to all but erase these. Still, pathos in the tone and subject of the poems does not necessarily mean despair in the act of poeticizing; a poet may write of misspent youth or love betrayed but still do so in ways that allow poet, poem, and reader to find solace at another level. Viewed in this way, the poetic act is an example of what Kenneth Burke called-- "equipment for living." Facing pain, sadness, or fear through the language and structure of the
poem allows us to get over them, to stare into the abyss symbolically and survive it. Dreams Deferred It was the common perhaps even required ambition of young American men of a certain generation to defy convention and devote themselves to the bohemia of Art--poetry, novels, and paintings for their own sake, made in poverty, on drugs, or as expressions of social and sexual alienation. Everyone can readily identify icons of this dream--Salinger and Vonnegut, Eliot and Ginsburg, Rothko and Motherwell. But, for every aspiring young talent who achieved artistic success in this mode, there were thousands more for whom the dream fizzled and they had to drop the show and earn a living. Many of Woodward's poems zero in on this storyline. There is the young man posed in romantic garb, armed with a book of poetry, and his head filled with the artistic heroics of Rimbaud, who has to admit to himself and us (mixing Heraclitus and Kerouac) that "no one steps twice onto the same road" (Photograph at 19). In another context, while his contemporaries were choosing the way of economic success, the voice of the poem "squandered the fortune of my youth--on the luxury of reciting aloud another man's finely-tuned phrase or praising the harmony of another man's palette" (Halo). But, it is not all idealism and puerile hope. there must be a book about this place with such counsels as may save me from the lonely fall of a winter's night In another tanka prose, Woodward celebrates the Chinese poet Tao Qian, "who chose the rudeness of the common country path over the
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sophisticated corridor of imperial preferment, the patient poverty of studious seclusion over the ready riches of a busy courtier's life" (Peach Blossom Spring). Tao Qian's poem of the same title, a utopian fantasy of a daydreaming fisherman, betrays a common longing, "the same today and yesterday." in a time of war I too would flee here peach blossoms scatter and color a villager's white hair *** I too would sit with the ancient ones for a time in the delicate shade of peach blossoms Peach blossoms here symbolize leaving the world behind in the pursuit of Art, but tellingly, Woodward puts them in a daydream, like the attitudes struck by the self-conscious youths perched above the river in Woodberry Tavern, who drink tequila neat, and "speak of Velбsquez as if he were one of our crew" (Woodberry Tavern). The young poet who looks out from these recollections is, of course, long gone. He exists now only in Woodward's artfully rendered nostalgia as a green and hopeful spirit whose future was, when these snapshots were taken, unknown. Woodward leaves it there, and does not drag that youth's precise fate into the picture, as if he meant to preserve that innocence. through a withered garden But, there is another voice in these poems, an older and wiser voice that is not so green, a bruised voice that talks almost wholly in pessimistic terms about--love--as a tug-of-war between fond, fleeting, and sexy memories, on the one hand, and a residuum of heartbreak, on the other. Here are some scattered small examples of the former--
she lies on her back in the cool grass awhile a winding stream nearby parallel a cloud in the sky my taste inclined through a long dry season to stone and water . . . but now it is there, for love, in the tangles of your hair But such moments of ardor are rhythmically counterpoised by darker sentiments like this-- though the mayfly may not live to love tomorrow in loving tonight he outlives your vow or this one, even more bitterly-- lying on her side pretty chin propped up in her hand she looks girlishly innocent and yet she lies These short bitter lamentations on false love, betrayal, and loneliness recur right across the text, like currants in a scone (so that you get one in almost every bite). Here is one last example-- long incised upon an upright slate of stone the now illegible but once familiar name of one left here alone Not only does this theme of lost or betrayed love recur regularly in Woodward's individual tanka, it is also the central focus of three of his major tanka prose--Souvenir, Venetian Blinds, and Morro Bay. Crucially positioned as these works are at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the poetry in this book, they remind us of the central importance here of the pathos surrounding
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physical love. They demand and will reward a closer look. In Souvenir Woodward has constructed a nearly perfect tanka envelope--one tanka, a bit of prose, and another tanka. In the first tanka the poet looks up to catch an adventitious glimpse of a girl in a popular pub-- light falls from her hair onto a gold necklace and lapis lazuli a carafe's close shadow of cerulean blue Directly, this reminds the poet of someone-- "you in high summer here at my side your eastern city far behind." But the poet is disturbed by the vision and abruptly leaves "that shimmering aura where it lingers with an admirer about a corner table." Nevertheless, the "shadow" of the remembered "you" dogs the poet out into the darkness of October, "into a sudden evening into a windy street." We are set up, at this point, for some further poignant revelations: what is so disturbing? we want to know. The poet immediately obliges with this closing tanka. if I turn back now and look to the east the heavens blacken A setting of dire intonation if ever there was one; and then we get this-- where tonight you lie at ease beside another. A second, seedier narrative can be found in the tanka sequence--Venetian Blinds. Love affairs that begin in "a rented room / with a single window" offer, perhaps, a fleeting ecstasy, but seldom real happiness. The interior of the room delivers a temporary "intimacy," yes, but there is something foreboding in these tanka lines-- her high heels click a door clicks to
And then, reversing the more sanguine logic of the tanka prose, The Silence that Inhabits Houses, about Matisse's painting of a room in which the color black is featured and in which bleak faceless readers gaze upon a wordless book, the Venetian blinds here are drawn to shut out the items present in both poems, the "royal palm and seaside view." Though closed, the blinds do not block everything, but-- let the midday light and palm pass through to stripe peach and green a satin sheet and sleeping woman too But the woman who was-- nakedly there before is now fully clothed and-- the interior intimately ebbs away with the click of her heels with the tide of the bay And, then she is gone, because erotic suggestion, as Woodward hints in another tanka prose also containing disturbing blank faces (this time a clock's), is consubstantial with the ebbing away of "the primal tidal sway" (The Black Clock). Casual liaisons rise up to frustrate the longing for real love in the tanka prose, Morro Bay, when the poet wakes through "the slit of my rumsoaked eyes and stare[s] offshore past the stranger whose satin robe parts innocently as she tosses back her platinum pageboy with bangs and I taste the salt in the air." And, here comes the tide again-- a seaworthy trawler called from night fishing to port rolls with a billow in the morning glare
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Lest we imagine the scene here to be more genteel than previous assignations, the poet quickly disabuses us. "Somewhere between midnight and dawn," he discloses at the end, "I misplaced her name. She did not ask me and I did not tell her mine" (Morro Bay). We can perhaps treat this one last tanka as a summary of the Woodwardian outlook on the transience of love-- I did not flinch but closely weighed her every word and only then walked out as I'd walked in, alone through a withered garden Bleak, Disheartening Travelogues once seaworthy, indeed, but lately beached and left to rot Woodward's choice of persons and places to "visit" in his tanka prose tends toward the desolate and the piteous. Not all of his poems eulogize bleakness, of course, many focus on more comforting topics--beauty and tenderness. Still, the larger part of his attention is devoted to stories of indigence, madness, dejection, isolation, failure, and affliction. Listen to some representative and general observations-- the grass is withered and every flower of the field also their proud colors muted now muddied red, gray or brown the stunted pine that I planted years ago still stands there stooped over refusing to grow like the weight of a great stone to the calloused hand now stonily numb this winter sun
In the space remaining I would like to pursue this last thread by an examination of three of Woodward's tanka prose: Tor House, Needles by Night, and Seamen's Bethel, New Bedford, each dark and bleak in its own way. In Tor House Woodward recounts a visit to Robinson Jeffers's stone house in Carmel, California. A sad, inevitable, and deterministic outlook saturates the poem, although to be strictly honest, it is not said to be Woodward's view so much as Jeffers's--"man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die."(2) Jeffers is depicted as building Tor House, his stone house-edifice of granite boulders hauled with great effort from the beach against all odds. Then, ironically, we hear Jeffers's own words again-- The square-limbed Roman letters Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain Robinson Jeffers's pessimism was not unfounded; in time his headland at Carmel was stuffed with the newer sort of expensive houses, about which James Tate has more recently written-- your strange carbuncular creation, now rented to trillionaire nonliterary folk from Pasadena. Edged in on all sides by trilevel pasteboard phantasms . . . . (3) Woodward's sympathetic lament turns back upon itself, though, as he seems to realize that he, the same as all the other tourists, has "come now to marvel at your handiwork, even now to rest their hands upon your stone." The wear and tear that erodes whole civilizations, the inexorable grinding down by Time about which Jeffers had waxed so philosophically has not in this case happened. The stones in the present still appear to be eternal, only the context has changed, has become urbanized, and in Woodward's words, Jeffers is left only to lament his loss of "an unbroken field of poppy and lupin." The tanka that finish this poem carry the dismal mood to the end--
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not far from the house I find the wind-worn Monterey cypress did you plant this one, this gaunt one, this evergreen go, then, with the grain of this, your granite-- I see you there, a child of the wind, of the tide . . . and brother to a stone The tanka prose Needles by Night causes odd reverberations in me when I read it. I grew up in San Bernardino County, California, where Needles, being on the California-Arizona border, is the most eastern city. As boy and much later, I have crossed and re-crossed that desert in all sorts of old and new cars. It is a remote and desolate place in the day, eerie in the headlights of a car at night. Woodward manages to give expression to all this in his repetition, at the beginning of each prose passage and in the first following tanka, of the words "coming into Needles." The anticipation generated is then thwarted, of course, because (as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland) "there is no there there." You no more than come into Needles, then you are as quickly out-- coming into Needles only to pass through and quickly into the wide desert of the night again With each of the poem's "re-entries" we are: "at the end of a blistering day;" or "on the dusty coattail of a bit of night wind and heat lightning;" or "on the sly and under cover of darkness;" or, finally, "by way of the main street 10:30 p.m. a digital bank clock remarks for the record 112 Fahrenheit . . . ." The desolation of the desert at Needles is further reinforced by two dramatic images that punctuate the tanka-- and every hour or so the ghost of tumbleweed floats on the road
and then this at the very end-- and gray and scraggly through the halo of your high-beams the trickster coyote Needles "here" is surely not so much a place as a stage or phase on an otherwise unspecified and, perhaps, pointless journey. In some ways, I have saved the clearest example of the melancholic tone of Woodward's overall vision for last. Seamen's Bethel, New Bedford, recounts Woodward's visit to the chapel commemorating dead whalers and fishermen in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Woodward mixes history (the story of the Chapel and its dedication to the dangers of sailing) and literature (episodes by Melville from and about Moby Dick). Once the mood has been set by a brief (is it original to our poet?) sea shanty, we learn of the "[t]hirty-one cenotaphs on the wall that name and number the men who did not dock again, at this port"--one fell to his death from the mast, one taken by a shark, one simply lost at sea. We learn in rapid succession that Melville was amazed at the "actual cannibals" hanging around the town, "savages outright." The dead sailors died for lamp oil, "dipped with whalers in the blood of their prey, the flesh and harpoon together cleansed." In Ahab's mad terms, as he baptizes the harpoon, "Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris," he says, "sed nomine diaboli." Death at sea, Ahab's madness, the moralism of Quaker merchants, all come together in the anathema of this chapel, dedicated to exactly what--a sailor's dangerous life and death, racial curiosity, moral and religious posturing--"this salt-cured and seasick chapel?" The tanka prose concludes in bleak terms. "The winter light of New England is constant and pewter on the panes. I rise to take my leave but the thirty-one tablets stay, the winding-sheet of the wind unraveling below in the harbor." I've sat in this pew, then, not unpredictably far back from the pulpit . . .
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I shut the chapel door, sleet on the cobbles of Johhny Cake Hill We might end, then, with Father Mapple's (Melville's own creation) paean to gloom, delivered in this very chapel, "Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale!" In summing up, I want to bring forward one last tanka tucked away at the end of a section entitled "Resident Angel." This tanka summarizes for me the overall tone and sentiment of Another Garden. It is a gem. no way to skip it but I toss the stone sidearm nonetheless and listen to it clatter across the frozen river The poet resolved to encompass his experience in this collection, no matter that the effort might reverberate in unexpected, harsh, and often bleak caverns. Coda: On Tanka Prose Finally, Jeffrey Woodward's Another Garden provides us with clear examples of his formal and pedagogical contributions to the promotion of tanka prose in the West. Appended to the poetry is a section entitled, Lagniappe: Two Essays, One Interview, containing three seminal prose contributions by Woodward, each of which displays his knowledge and erudition in the history and exportation of Japanese poetic forms. These essays will appeal especially to poets and readers curious about other forms of widening, so to speak, the context surrounding the individual tanka poem, as in tanka sequences and the like. But, there is a second and more important thread in these essays that concerns the question of tanka prose in the history of literary genres. Here is Woodward at his best: Two temptations beset tanka. The first lies in an appeal to ossified "tradition," in a misinterpretation or falsification of tanka
that aims at slavish imitation of Japanese models in subject and form. True tradition, it seems to me, can be deciphered only by serious study of tanka literature and history, by the identification of those vital qualities that transcend generational change as well as by an identification, on the negative side, of capricious trends and stylistic mannerisms. We must presume, of course (if only to be logical), some limit which lyrical innovation cannot exceed without breaking its link to tanka prose per se, but, luckily, no one now can say exactly what or where that limit lies (although, of course, some editors would like to chain tanka and tanka prose to their own diffident and mechanical restrictions). At the center of Woodward's contribution in this connection is the idea that, whatever its origins, tanka prose has now been assimilated into Western poetry and is more or less free to follow where the poets writing it want to take it. Art not edict will dictate the future of tanka prose; better, as it were, alive than dead. The push and pull between prose passage and five-line poem when set over against each other is always complicated. To prescribe any one kind of relation here as more correct, as purer, or more legitimate would stymie the potential flowering of the form. What I mean is this: sometimes an effective tanka prose arises from the harmony of the prose and the poem, from the derivation of one from the other; but other times it might as easily arise from a conflict between them, from the spark generated by the two in unnatural proximity; and, finally, a powerful tanka prose might also grow out of far more oblique connections, as when, for example, the poet seeks to induce the poem by provoking marginal, hidden, or anachronistic aspects of the prose to generate one or a series of more or less dissonant tanka. Tanka prose can find inspiration not only from its Vermeers and Mozarts, but also from its equivalents of Cy Twombly and Philip Glass. Charles D. Tarlton San Francisco/Dublin January, 2014
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Notes (1) Jeffrey Woodward, Another Garden (Detroit: Tournesol Books, 2013) Pp. 13-178. (2) To the Stone-Cutters Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you fore defeated Challengers of oblivion Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down, The square-limbed Roman letters Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well Builds his monument mockingly; For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun Die blind and blacken to the heart: Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found The honey of peace in old poems. 1924 (3) "Failed Tribute to the Stonemason of Tor House," Robinson Jeffers, Selected Poems (1991). January, A Tanka Diary by M. Kei Reviewed by Patricia Prime January: A Tanka Diary by M. Kei Keibooks, Perryville, Maryland, USA, 2013 $US 18.00. Available from Amazon as a Kindle e-book for $US 5.00. M. Kei is a distinguished author, poet and editor of Atlas Poetica. His latest poetic offering, January: A Tanka Diary, is a collection of 640 tanka of which 220 are unpublished. The rest have been collected from the tanka he has written and published in many venues. Finely articulated, the poems range from resonant lyricism to breezy
pleasantries to dense poems about life, death and everything in between. The tanka present a refreshing variety of content and one is drawn to the honesty and immediacy of his thoughts and observations. The title is appropriate, not only in a metaphorical sense but also because the tanka refer specifically to a year in the life of the poet beginning from the cold and dreary month of January and continuing until the following January. Each tanka appears on a monthly basis on the day on which it was written. In these tanka images of processes in nature and of the natural world are analogues of feelings and intuitions which cannot be expressed in any other way. Descriptions of the scenes, the birds, the water, the plants, set the mood and measure the emotions. Images and the language that contains them evoke happiness, love, sex, pain, joy, sadness and loss. Perhaps one has to shift into another gear to read this poetry, with its quiet, confident rhythm that links the poet to the world known and unknown. Sometimes the tanka are presented in a traditional juxtaposition of human and natural elements, as in the first tanka: a fresh leaf white in the winter of a new year; it seems a shame to mar it with words Just as effective are those tanka which are a form of analyzing what will happen after we are dead and gone: when the world of men is gone, who will scatter the ashes of our existence, who will place the memorial of our dying? The authentic voice of the poet can be heard in many of the poems, including those that seem to come wholly from nature:
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first birdsong of the year somewhere, amid all the brown gloom, a small life is happy to greet the day This collection of interwoven poems in which the `subject' is simultaneously created and dismantled, placed and complicated by the tanka's self-conscious attention to perception, to the constructing of images and therefore to the status of a work of art in its contemplation, is masterful. M. Kei is a major tanka poet. His craftsmanship is impressive, language honed to the instrument of his intellect, wit and observations. Occasionally he lets us into his closely-guarded inner sanctuary, as much by implication as by direct words: throwing away old papers, I found a love letter-- I vaguely recall that boy-man In the following minimalist tanka, he comments on his passion for the sea, his sailing career and the loss when he has to give it up: I miss the boat crave it the water the herons and the world Kei also addresses the everyday life and companionship of his children in these two beautiful tanka: leaning on the windowsill, my daughter helps me count white-throated sparrows
my son and I crawl through the bilge of an old wooden boat, painting the Copperkote for another fifty years The poet takes a long slow plunge down memory lane and comes up with some truly memorable lines: "even the grackles / have lost their luster"; "her third eye /shining at the world"; "Mardi Gras beads rattle / against the lamp." From his children to his passion for sailing, Kei moves sure-footedly. One deft tanka follows another and we are left with the impression of a sequence of finely honed poems. Kei can be moving and intimate: waking the same time as always, this first day of being unemployed and he plies his craft honestly and precisely. He possesses a poetic language that circles through time and place, picking up the rhythms of life as it goes. His poems are full of stories: life on and off the sea, writing, listening to music, reading, watching the birds, friendships and loss. There is also an abiding sense of longing and belonging which transcends the minimalism of the five-line poems. The epiphanies Kei uncovers in his journey through the year derive from illuminations that are redolent of the poet's awakenings to life and all its vicissitudes.
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A Rumination on M. Kei's January, A Tanka Diary Reviewed by Jeffrey Harpeng
My youngest grandchild offers me a fake flower to sniff while the other sets up the backgammon board next to the computer. It is seven o'clock on a Saturday morning and in this scene backgammon girl says "Granddad, you're just sitting in front of the computer." That's how she sums up writing and reviewing. There are flavours, scats, scents and plain telling of the distracted life in M. Kei's writing. Rather than being a light bulb connected to the mains, the book measures a year as a lightning rod out in the storm. "Throw double six and you move four pieces six places, or two pieces twelve," I say to my granddaughter, "but you can't use it if the other player has two or more pieces where you want to go, and before you do anything you have to get that piece back on the board." And so goes a loose headed view of composing tanka. M. Kei has garnered, gathered and preened a two hundred and seventy page day-book-worth of brief phrasings in praise of the fleeting, two hundred and seventy pages of secular pieties and ruminations on the repetitions that paint the fading canvas of permanence. The tanka in M. Kei's January, A Tanka Diary are alive with the small and difficult finesses of relationship and affection, with the awkward gravity of sexuality, they are proud with a sacred relationship with boats and open water, they are attentive to the small, fine graces of day to day life with his children, and in woodland rambles he and the world give and take account and tell the toll of things passing away in each other. He writes ever alert to the craft, the craftiness of tanka, and its possessive, obsessive heritage. The diary year begins with a fresh leaf, with a small conceit. In its whiteness the leaf finds commonality with the winter; it is an exotic literary foliage.
a fresh leaf white in the winter of a new year; it seems a shame to mar it with words To say "it seems a shame" might have told the moment it was composed, how the thunder grumbled and the pale lightning flickered, but I found this small conceit more and more inappropriate as I read and reread, tracked and backtracked my way through the year. Apparently M. Kei soon overcame shame, for there are twenty tanka set down for January 1. For myself, I bookmarked the following as my opener. cold it is, and colder still, this dawn in a new year in an old house The echoing cold, colder, old, adds layers of chill, and frames still. It becomes a quiet point in deep time, and the whole poem is resonant with a petite poverty. It seems more the measure of the day and an appropriate place to write away from. M. Kei's forte, as a composer of brevities, is to find the marvellous in the mundane, to make the mundane marvellous, to assign just-so phraseology. Here he turned his subject into a meditation, into a spell. going to the funeral it snows a little in Illinois; coming home from the funeral, it snows a little in Illinois
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Or borrowing a quill from Dickens, he can show suffering, already known. hungry the poor man struggles through the snow, baby in his arms, little girl in his footprints He presents it as a mirror. Are you carried, carrying or following? Not every tanka is iconic or an illumination. Some are the road travelled, the pages turned, to get to those spellbinding reverences, those reveries. On occasion when I backtracked from a tanka that captivated me, I found, as in the following, the resounding of words echoing back and forth multiplying relationships between one tanka and another. I didn't know he was dying when I stood on the quarterdeck of his soon-to-be widowed ship pretty soon I'll have to get up and go back to work another summer seeping into the wood of the boat another Sunday spent worshipping in the cathedral of the Chesapeake, this wooden boat the only pew In this sequence, the `pretty soon' of tanka two drew me back, to the `soon-to-be widowed'. With that rereading tanka one becomes as a daydream woken from. There is the haunting of a weariness-unto-death. We are neither at the beginning nor at the end. It is another summer seeping into the wood of the boat. Say those lines again, yet again and their phrasing is an oratorical piety, another summer seeping, a joy, sanguine with the pity of all things passing. And
that is as it should be, for in this `another summer' is `another Sunday worshiping in the cathedral of the Chesapeake' and summer is seeping into wood, the wood that is the pew in this great cathedral of water and wind and sky. Such sequences accumulate delights to the individual tanka. On other days, as a lightning rod, he was struck with a voltage of humour. It was carried to earth by the laconic and wry in his bones and brainwaves. His reports of those tingles and shocks are plays and monologues well suited to the elbow nudge time frame of tanka theatre. another book of tanka for review-- sparrows chirping in the spring rain My grin teetered on becoming a smirk at the `just-so' evocation of the jizz of reviewing. From among my sparrow chirping thoughts I hope I have told you something meaningful or, better still, have given a sense of the playful seriousness January, A Tanka Diary provoked in me. To add a bit more cheek, I'd like to suggest an alternative to the following tanka. Instead of perhaps, let that line read `in a tanka'. Let this distortion be my final litmus reading. a bit of green in a sidewalk crack-- perhaps i have already been reincarnated
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Review : This Short Life : Minimalist Tanka Reviewed by Joy McCall This Short Life : Minimalist Tanka by Sanford Goldstein Keibooks. 6x9", pp, 162, print & ebook $15.00 USD / Ј10.00 GBP (print) $5.00 USD /Ј 4.00 GBP (Kindle) I have loved Sanford Goldstein's tanka since the first book of his that I found in the late 70's, This Tanka World. Each time a new Goldstein book came out, I bought it. His voice is like no other in the tanka world. I gave up trying to emulate it decades ago. His translations sit on my bookshelves too. His books of tanka are dogeared from travelling with me. Many of them are inscribed from him and so they matter even more. He is as good a friend as he is a poet. The two are inseparable. Sanford thought that Journeys Near and Far-- his recent collection--would be his last published book. He didn't count on M. Kei being wise enough to know there were far more tanka to be published. I'm guessing, and hoping, that even this present book will not be his last; the old man still has so much to say. He can still write tanka like no one else. Tanka which seem simple but hold deep truths. Tanka that seem complex but go straight to the heart of things. Sanford writes honest, modest poems, that tell the stories of his daily life, following the example of his own hero, Takuboku. I spit on tonight's lonely manuever, I floss, I scribble poems He writes:
never will I know it, the sound of one hand clapping He already, long ago, realised that none of us will ever know that sound--and yet all we sheep keep listening, wondering, while he sits outside the fold, knowing. Sanford's books are some of the most valued things in my life. He is a true gentleman and a scholar--but more, he is the kind of man who is the best kind of friend. This is a wonderful, intriguing book, made perfect by the combined forces of my two favourite tanka poets. I'm so happy it came to be. *** Mini-Review : circling smoke, scattered bones Reviewed by Steve Wilkinson circling smoke, scattered bones by Joy McCall Edited by M. Kei Keibooks, 6"x9", pp 176, print & ebook ISBN-13: 978-0615880006 $15.00 USD / Ј10.00 GBP (print) $5.00 USD /Ј 4.00 GBP (Kindle) To read Joy's tanka is to walk with her in her journey through life. Along the way you will encounter joy and sorrow, loss and longing. You will encounter enigmatic characters from her life and her town. As I read her book my emotions were moved on many levels. She succeeded in transporting me on a roller coaster ride of introspection and meditation. On many occasions after reading particular poems I just sat there in the silence of my own thought, considering that which I had just read and how it related to my own world. Overall Joy's book is a book of well honed tanka sequences that deserves its place on any bookshelf.
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Tanka in Three Lines? Matsukaze
Since my return to tanka the earlier part of this year (March 13th), the amount of tanka books I now own have doubled more than the haiku books I possess, and I've voraciously consumed anything/everything related to `tankademics;' in such a short time. Having studied different tanka composers both American and Japanese, I realized there was one I hadn't read, and that was Tawara Machi; author of `Salad Anniversary.' I purchased the Juliet Winters Carpenter translation and in her translation of Ms. Machi's tanka, Carpenter opted to translate each tanka into a three lined stanza. In the book's Afterword she stated: Tanka are often described as "five-line" poems, but this is misleading in several respects--not least being the fact that they are almost always written in a single line in Japanese. [. . .] In her second tanka collection, Toritate no tanka desu ("Fresh-picked tanka"), Tawara has experimented with writing tanka in two and three lines of various lengths (although she claims that "in her heart" she still thinks of tanka as a single line). In my translations I have generally adhered to a three-line format, and have aimed at brevity without attempting to duplicate syllable counts. My interest was immediately piqued to not only discover the history of three lined tanka, IF it existed; but to also try my own hand at composing in that form as well as in five lines. The history of the three lined form is discussed in the pages of Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era--Poetry, Drama, Criticism by Donald Keene. I will give a brief history of the threelined tanka with the intent of encouraging tanka composers to further their experimentation.
The three lined tanka is a form invented by tanka poets of the Naturalist School, Shazenso Sha ("Plaintain Society") of which the top three tanka poets were Wakayama Bokusui, Kubota Utsubo, Maeda Yugure. In Japan there are two branches of tanka: the Naturalist School and the Myojo ("Morning Star") school. The Myojo school was founded by Yosano Hiroshi (Tekkan) and his wife Yosano Akiko. The Myojo was marked by extreme romantic/ symbolist images, lofty words and the frequent use Japanese pillow-words, sometimes used in a modern fashion but still reminiscent of classical waka. The Naturalist School drew inspiration from everyday life, nature, and used colloquialisms and vernacular language. The start of experimental lineation in tanka began with Maeda Yugure who began writing tanka in irregular lines as his reformation of the waka form. The mantle was taken up by the fourth major poet of the Naturalist School, Toki Akika (Zemmaro). Toki studied under a minor poet by the name of Kaneko Kun'en who was known to have flirted with nearly every tanka school in Japan and experimented with free tanka of irregular lengths. Kun'en was called a `city poet' because of his style, though not very significant; he still boasted of an urbanity that went beyond most of the `country poets' and Toki was attracted to Kun'en's open nature. Around 1910, Toki published his first collection of tanka titled: Nakiwarai ("Smiling Through the Tears") which became a huge shocker to the tanka community. The collection was made up of 143 tanka all written in roman letters and formatted in three lined stanzas! In this, Zemmaro was working to free tanka from its old fossilized associations. Therefore his tanka were extremely antithetical to the pervading atmosphere of tanka collections and anthologies.
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Ishikawa Takuboku, a friend and fellow tanka composer, reviewed Zemmaro's work calling him "Less like a tanka poet than the tanka poets of the day." In his three lined tanka, Zemmaro still used classical language, but the material was drawn in the naturalist manner: from commonplace happenings and events. Zemmaro clung closely to the 31-morae/on tradition no matter how he divided up his tanka. He invented the three line form and that same form was later adopted by his friend, Takuboku, who so favored it that his only two collections were published in that form. In Takuboku's Poems to Eat, translated by Carl Sesar, he further gives a bit of insight on rendering tanka into three lines. After reading this information it seemed to me that the three line tanka form is indeed more legitimate than most might think. Studying a bit about tanka lineation from the Japanese standpoint I would humbly submit that five lines is not what makes tanka, tanka; but its musicality/rhythm, and its fiveness-five poetic phrases/segments/thought-parts arranged in either one, two, three, four, or five lines. Of course I am not in any way advocating the demise of the standard five line form, but I am saying that based on a few talks with M. Kei and further reading, it appears that the reason we in America compose tanka in five lines is based on the tanka's fiveness or its five poetic phrases/ segments. I humbly submit that in the way of experimentation, three lines should be an added variety to tanka composition and should be the decision of the tanka composer. This takes nothing away from tanka as a poetic genre, but I believe it adds a richness and vibrancy to an already ancient, enduring art form. The only downside is that I don't believe most of the tanka publications would be willing to accept tanka in 3 lines or any other derivative outside of five. Tanka in three lines would be one of many techniques/tools in the tool box of the tankaist. Below for your consideration are a few of my tanka in three lines, the first several accompanied by their five line versions for comparison.
over a bowl of spaghetti, steaming hot, we trade anecdotes about old cinema and rain over a bowl of spaghetti, steaming hot, we trade anecdotes about old cinema and rain morning breakfast, of blood oranges, a few dates, and talk of the explosion of Pan Air flight 450 morning breakfast, of blood oranges, a few dates; and talk of the explosion of Pan Air flight 450 seated-- with the dilettante on the floor listening to Forrester's contralto sing Wolf seated-- with the dilettante on the floor listening to Forrester's contralto singing Wolf i wish to do right-- tonight i lie in bed under a man not my own and still feel sweet i wish to do right-- tonight i lie in bed under a man not my own, and still feel sweet
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waiting, a long wait for my man's blackness to return home-- my man addicted to heroin washing rice grains-- i ain't no man's nigger, not even in the belly of racist America Allende del Sol, Mexico half factory, half tourist town where another elderly woman was murdered the futon, axis and crux of this unfriendly house-- each night he sits there nursing gin my body a lean axe has hacked its way through the night now morning, i stand poised in prayer
So we should write it in two lines or three according to its rhythm. Some may criticize us by saying this will destroy the rhythm of tanka itself. No matter. If the conventional rhythm has ceased to suit our mood, why hesitate to change it? (Ishikawa, p. 47) At this juncture in my tanka study, I do not have some intellectual/philosophical why these were composed in threes and not fives. I simply sang them in threes. Works Cited Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era--Poetry, Drama, Criticism New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Machi, Tawara. Salad Anniversary; translated by Juliet W i n t e rs C a r p e n t e r N e w Yo rk : Ko d a n s h a International, 1990. Ishikawa, Takuboku. Romaji and Sad Toys. Sanford Goldstein & Seishi Shinoda, trans. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University, Press, 1977.
and you Murasaki, did you sink into each phrase you penned? dressing for the journey
once a professor of 15th century lit, four summers later a schizophrenic episode
i move quietly, not to disturb the village slumbering in a hidden ravine of my soul
over a Borodin string concerto peeling lettuce, my thoughts smell like plums
Take, for instance, the tanka. We have already been feeling it is somewhat inconvenient to write tanka in a single line.
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The Problem of Tanka : Definition and Differentiation
M. Kei
1. Introduction
2. Background
Anyone who reads tanka in English has noticed a trend of the late 20th century that presents a unified and instantly recognizable form and content. Once known as "tanka spirit," this set of characteristics was widely accepted as defining the form in English. Then, starting in 2006, with the publication of Modern English Tanka, a far more diverse genre of tanka began to be published and continues to this day. With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to see that the tanka of the late 20th century and early 21st century was not a universal definition, but merely a powerful vogue. I call it the "New Wave" because it departed in significant ways from the tanka that had been previously published, and because, like a tsunami, it overwhelmed the previous approaches. Tanka embodying "tanka spirit" have been published both before and after the period of 1986­2005, but they did so in competition with a wide variety of other approaches. The period before the New Wave was characterized by a highly diverse and experimental body of poetry, both in translation and by native English speakers, and translations from languages other than Japanese, such as Spanish1. Most of this previous body of literature was unknown to poets and readers of the New Wave, and where known, frequently dismissed as unworthy and irrelevant. During the New Wave, tanka was something magical and mysterious that only the hierophants of tanka could understand. Novices could learn only by long toil at the knees of dead Japanese masters and their self-appointed acolytes. Little attention was given to tanka in English, and those who wanted to learn about tanka were constantly referred to classical and sometimes medieval Japanese poets and editors--as if nothing had happened in the intervening eight centuries!
Adapting tanka to English was no easy task. Although the earliest known publication of English-language tanka occurred at the tail end of the 19th century (Lafcadio Hearns' translation and anthology, Japanese Lyrics, 1894), it was not at all obvious how to render tanka into English. The two major attempts of the early 20th century were the tanka of Sadakichi Hartmann (1867­ 1944) and Jun Fujita (1888­1963). Writing in Drifting Flowers of the Sea (1904), Hartmann composed tanka in what is now called the "sanjuichi" form, from the Japanese word for "thirty-one." His tanka were metered and rhymed poems of thirty-one syllables in the classic Japanese pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. Clearly Hartmann, Japanese-born and well educated in Japanese and Western literature, conceived of tanka as a formal verse, so he added the formal Western elements of meter and rhyme to his Japanese structure.2 His results are musical, but they aren't good poetry. A single example of his work will suffice, Like mist on the leas, Fall gently, oh rain of spring On the orange trees That to Una's casement clings-- Perchance she'll hear the love-bird sing! Sadakichi Hartmann3 Here we have an orange tree instead of a cherry tree, but the archaic, consciously poetic diction deliberately mimics the classical diction of waka, as tanka was known before it was reformed at the end of the 19th century. Jun Fujita, publishing in Poetry Magazine from 1919­1929, left behind a small body of tanka poetry and literary criticism. In 1922 he criticized Yone Noguchi, another Japanese North
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American, for adopting the "carcass" but not the "essence" of Japanese poetry4. In discussing a poem about a waterfall, Fujita noted that Noguchi focussed on the roar of the waterfall rather than its silence. Fujita stated, To feel and create this poetic silence, and through it to suggest the roar, the power, and the majesty of the fall without describing it, is the mission of Japanese poets.5 Fujita's own work embodies his principles. While you pant deliriously, I awake To the bold moon, The somber hills, And myself. Jun Fujita6 The five poetic phrases of tanka have been formatted as a quatrain, no doubt to meet Western expectations of what a poem is supposed to look like, but it is highly irregular: 11-4-4-3 syllables. If the first line is broken into two, the pattern becomes 8-3-4-4-3. Obviously, formal form, archaic poetic diction, and classical subjects are not what Fujita conceived tanka to be. Although Hartmann and Fujita are treating the same subject, love (or at least passion), Fujita's approach is thoroughly modern. Although many newcomers begin by writing the sanjuichi form of tanka, they usually abandon it once they become more knowledgeable. Dr. Richard Gilbert's article, "Stalking the Wild Onji,"7 has been influential in explaining the difference between Japanese and English metrics and the implications for prosody. The problem of tanka is how to adapt a formal form into a language that simply does not behave like Japanese. Clearly, Hartmann's solution is not satisfactory while Fujita's solution gives good poems that don't look like classical Japanese poems. The quest to adapt tanka into English is more arduous than for other European languages. Romance languages adapt well to the sanjuichi pattern because their own vowels and
syllable lengths are closer to Japanese than English; a sanjuichi written in Spanish or Italian doesn't struggle to balance the Japanese aesthetics with the requirements of the form. This may be why tanka was readily taken up in Romanian8 and also had a vogue in Catalan.9 It may be that the struggle for adaption and the resulting variety is part of the definition of tanka in English. What follows is a survey of numerous methods and attempts to adapt tanka into English. 3. The New Wave 3.1 The Wind Five Folded School of Tanka The Wind Five Folded School of Tanka was one of the most prolific and influential schools of tanka to arise during the New Wave (1986­2005). Led by Jane and Werner Reichhold, it had a major influence on poets of the period. An early adopter of the World Wide Web, the Reichholds were able to disseminate their approach to a broad audience at a time when very few tanka venues attempted to do so. A tireless advocate for women poets past and present, Jane Reichhold became the heroine of a generation. Reichhold's editorial vision is embodied in the multitude of publications which she and her husband wrote, edited, or published, including Lynx, a journal for linking poets, the Tanka Splendor Award, numerous publications through her small press, AHA Books, and its online presence, AHA Poetry, as well as her own poetry and articles, but she only recently organized previously existing articles into a series of lessons she calls the "Wind Five Folded School of Tanka," named after the The Wind Five Folded anthology, which she and her husband co-edited and published in 1994. In her lessons, Reichhold describes tanka as: · subjective (meaning you can add your opinion, or that of anyone else) · emotional, opinionated, hot (often sensual), and lyrical · can discuss the most intimate body parts and functions · use an "elegant" language, and choose elevated euphemisms to cloak the unspeakable
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· are made of sentence fragments and phrases and should not read like a complete sentence · in English, we use the line length to indicate the length of the 5 or 7 sound units · are usually written completely in lower case except for proper nouns · can or don't use some punctuation. Sentence punctuation is really wrong · use the technique of showing an association, comparison or contrast between images. · taking an image from nature and associating, comparing or contrasting with the emotional situation of a person (it rains, I cry)10 The following tanka is an example of Reichhold's poetry from The Wind Five Folded, now as night everything returns to being clotted moonlight stones sleep to be clocks pendled by tides they tick Jane Reichhold11 Reichhold has identified the pivot as the defining feature of tanka and stated her opinion unequivocally, "In fact, if anyone asked what makes a tanka a tanka, I would have to say that it must have a pivot."12 She cites ancient Japanese tanka with a bipartite structure in support of this, but defines "pivot" very loosely, allowing for "implied pivots." This is not born out by an examination of either ancient or modern poetry or critical writings. While a "turn" forming a contrast between the upper and lower strophes of a bipartite tanka is common, many tanka do not exhibit this. Many tanka do not even have a bipartite structure. Professor Sanford Goldstein, as editor of Five Lines Down, wrote, I do not feel I would restrict tanka rhythms to this 3/2 approach. Why not a rhythm of 2/3 or 1/4 or even a rush of five lines down?13
Examples can be found as far back as the Man'yosh. Likewise, numerous verse forms also feature a turn, such as the sonnet, but that doesn't mean a sonnet is also a tanka. A few other writers were even stricter in their definition of pivot, most notably Donna Ferrell, who equated the pivot with the swing line (a line that can be read either with what precedes or what follows to form two coherent strophes), a view she often espoused in postings to her online forum, "Mountain Home," founded in 2000.14 Modern waka looks to the best of the Court tradition for examples of form and spirit, and to our own experience for authenticity of expression. Just as classical waka came to be defined by the uta, or "short poem," modern waka is primarily expressed in the five-line form familiar to readers of contemporary tanka. Modern waka features a grammatical "pivot" similar to that of classical poetry.15 The loneliness Of a single firefly blinking In the gloaming; A rose slowly fades Into the darkness of everything. Donna Ferrell16 The Modern Waka school of tanka did not differ in significant ways from the Wind Five Folded School. The principle difference was a narrow choice of models, explicitly classical, and especially Saigy (1118­1190 AD). Mountain Home (Sankashu) was the name of Saigy's most famous work. Ferrell did not publish any articles. Her editorial vision was manifested through her own poetry and her commentary on poetry workshopped in the Mountain Home forum. She rarely published outside of her own forum, and the email list has not had any significant traffic since 2010.17 The notion that tanka have a bipartite structure is a common one, but the two-part structure is not found in the oldest tanka: the famous wedding song of the god, Susano-o no Mikoto. The pattern in his tanka is the ancient
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tripartite structure of the original tanka: line 1 and 2 are a unit, line 3 and 4 are a unit, and line 5 is a unit. There is no "turn" here, but a steady building of repeated elements with pleasing rhythm and alliteration. Yakumo tatsu Izumo yaegaki Tsumagomi ni Yaegaki tsukuru Sono yaegaki o In eight-cloud-rising Izumo an eightfold fence To enclose my wife An eightfold fence I build, And, oh, that eightfold fence!18 However, as editor Edwin Cranston notes, this is the modern form of the poem. The earliest Japanese poems were frequently irregular.19 Even today tanka is often irregular.20 Ultimately this has led to the creation of gogyoshi, a five line Japanese poem without any requirements regarding line length at all.21 Aside from structure, the assertion by Reichhold that tanka juxtapose nature and emotion must be contested. This is a common technique in contemporary Anglophone tanka, and it has antecedents in Japanese classical tanka, but is not a requirement. Case in point, the works of Sanford Goldstein do not adhere to this prescription. Goldstein, a retired English professor who pursued a second career teaching in Japan, has translated (along with his partners) numerous works of modern Japanese literature, including the major tanka poets, such as Yosano Akiko, Masaoka Shiki, Ishikawa Takuboku, and Sait Mokichi. Goldstein has been writing and publishing his own tanka in English since the 1960s. His approach to tanka is very different from either the Wind Five Folded or Modern Waka schools. another Father's day I did not visit his grave
Sanford Goldstein22 Another of Reichhold's points to be contested is that tanka must use elevated language and euphemism to cloak "unspeakable" subjects. This prohibition certainly applied to the classical waka, but it does not apply to modern tanka in Japanese. I leave my house preoccupied with thoughts; a dog with saggy balls passes on the street Ai Akitsu23 Dead of night returning home exhausted from the interrogation-- my period begins to flow like rage Motoko Michiura24 Menstruation, interrogation, canine genitalia, and other "unspeakable" subjects do not appear in either the Wind Five Folded or Modern Waka schools of tanka, not even cloaked in euphemism. However, in the early 21st century have we started to see taboo-breaking tanka in English. there's always a monkey beating off at the zoo-- school boys laugh, the facts of life not fitting into the teacher's plan Bob Lucky25 The aesthetic espoused by Jane Reichhold is miyabi, literally "courtly beauty." In other words, poetry considered to be in good taste by the culture and aesthetics of the Imperial court of the Heian period (794­1185 AD). It is frequently coupled with fry, "elegance," as in Reichhold's points above. Father Neal Henry Lawrence,
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Benedictine monk, priest, missionary, and tanka poet, wrote, "Like Japanese tanka, tanka in English must never be vulgar, but always in good taste."26 Father Lawrence would probably not approve of poems about dog testicles, monkey masturbation, menstruation, or getting arrested. Above and beyond that, Reichhold's characterization of tanka as "feminine" does a real disservice. While it is true that women were successful tanka writers, we must also acknowledge that the context in which they wrote was one dominated by men. All the editors of the Man'yosh, Kokinwakash, and Shinkokinwakash were men, and men made up the majority of tanka poets published in those anthologies. Likewise, the famous tanka poets of the Meiji and Taisho periods that transformed waka into tanka were largely male: Masaoka Shiki, Sait Mokichi, Takuboku Ishikawa, Yosano Tekkan, etc. Yosano Akiko shocked Japan by refusing the role of the demure and proper Japanese wife to became Japan's most famous tanka poet. To label tanka "feminine" ignores that women tanka poets had to compete and succeed in a milieu dominated by men. That they did so makes their achievements even more impressive. The elements stereotyped as "feminine" in tanka are emotional expressiveness and sensitivity to the natural and human environments. These are the traits of good poets regardless of gender. It patronizes women to contrast them as feminine, emotional and subjective, versus objective, rational and masculine men. In tanka, the full range of expression is open to all poets. 3.2 Orientalism Orientalism is an aesthetic that has influenced tanka in English from its origin. The earliest tanka in English, by Sadakichi Hartmann (in Drifting Flowers of the Sea, 1904), are Orientalist in nature, embodying as they do a japonisme that represents an imaginary and Romanticized Japan. Given that Hartmann migrated from Japan to the West when he was a teenager, it is perhaps not surprising that he came to view Japanese poetry through Western eyes. All other Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans whose work I'm familiar with are devoid of
Orientalism. With the exception of Hartmann, Orientalism is an approach typically utilized by Western poets. It is not surprising that novice poets respond to the exotic content of tanka without understanding the underlying principles, so it is inevitable that newcomers to the field will produce tanka about cherry blossoms, kimonos, and temples. However, some poets and editors participate consciously and deliberately in Orientalism. They usually do so with the best intentions and the belief that they are accomplishing good in the world. Case in point, Charles E. Tuttle, founder of the publishing house that bears his name, did excellent work publishing books in English on Japanese subjects. However, the anthology he edited in 1957, Japan : Theme and Variations, is rife with Orientalism. Tuttle tacitly admits as much, The older images of dainty geisha, pagodas and arched bridges, and jeweled landscapes yet remain--although often in bright new contexts.27 A single example of "jeweled landscapes" will suffice: The snow has fallen on the black branches of plum and cherry; on all the hills the moon walks, but you still hide behind your tall screen. Florida Watts Smyth28 Smyth's work is not devoid of merit, but it is predicated on the belief that tanka is written in a pattern of 5-7-5-7-7 about classical Japanese subjects. She manages to pack the piece with Oriental tropes: snow, cherry trees, plum trees, moon, and a Japanese screen, all while impersonating a courtly lover. Forty years later, a more sophisticated treatment of the same theme is provided by Jeanne Emrich.
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why do I feel so empty tonight? moonlight streams in at every window and you await me Jeanne Emrich29 Emrich captures the classical trope of a woman waiting for her lover by moonlight without resorting to any flagrantly Oriental motifs. At 4-4-5-5-5 syllables she doesn't embody either the 5-7-5-7-7 or short-long-short-long-long formats, but what she has written is a very traditional tanka in subject matter and aesthetics. If it were translated into Japanese, it would be entirely acceptable to the ladies and gentlemen of the Heian court. She demonstrates that Japanese aesthetics can be used without Orientalism. Let us consider how Japanese aesthetics could be applied to a different culture. John Daleiden chose a Haitian theme: Haitian woman, spawn of powerful genes-- work your spell use your voodoo fingers to enliven this old man John Daleiden30 It is hard to imagine a subject that deviates from the tanka norm as much as voodoo. In fact, if anyone had suggested that there might be something compatible between tanka and voodoo before reading this poem, the reader could be forgiven for being skeptical. Daleiden uses the melody of tanka, and he applies tanka aesthetics: compaction, evocative detail, suggestion, allusion, subjectivity, and eroticism. Words like "Haitian," "spawn," "spell," and "voodoo" are heavily freighted with associations that amplify the poem beyond what is written on the page. In order to critique Orientalism, we must also be certain what it is not. Mention of Asian topics is not inherently Orientalist. Many people travel or live in Asia and record their experiences authentically. Orientalism, as per Edward Said, is
the projection of an Oriental fantasy upon Asia by Westerners, instead of seeing Asian people for who they are.31 In addition, even when there is a sincere desire to engage, care must be taken to avoid "tourist tanka," by which we mean superficial works that record the traveler's reactions to an exotic locale. Thai massage at the women's prison-- she works on my feet and plans her escape; I can feel it Bob Lucky32 Although Lucky went as a tourist to Thailand, his experience and thoughts go well beyond the usual tourist venues. Dark, yet humorous, trivial, yet troubling, he gives a complex and ambiguous description of an unexpected scene. Lucky's poem exposes the power imbalance inherent between the Westerner free to fantasize about exotic Oriental women and the Asian woman who has no choice but to endure a stranger projecting his fantasies onto her, a literal prisoner at his feet. 3.3 Zen, Introspection, and Realism A significant motivator of Orientalism during the New Wave was Asian spirituality. Zen in particular and Buddhism in general became popular in the West. Certainly religion influenced tanka in Japan, and religion of any sort is a legitimate topic for tanka, but during the New Wave, a subset of tanka were appreciated not so much for being poetry, but for being homilies from or homages to Eastern spirituality. Classical tanka were influenced by Zen and Buddhism, sometimes in overt ways, but usually less so. The Zen master was supposed to be detached from the suffering of the world, but ironically, that very detachment led to an awareness of the transience of the world, which inspired feelings of pathos, which in turn became highly subjective tanka in which the feelings of the poet were the focus of the poem. This self-
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referential irony is depicted in the Buddhist monk Saigy's (1118­1190 AD) tanka, even someone free of passion as myself feels sorrow: snipe rising from a marsh at evening in autumn Saigy33 The transience of the world, represented by the Japanese term aware, the pity of things that pass away, is an integral part of Japanese aesthetics as incorporated into Anglophone tanka. Although ygen (mystery and depth) and ma (negative space) have been championed by Robert Wilson and Denis M. Garrison respectively as essential to understanding Japanese tanka, it is aware, along with miyabi, that has had the most influence on tanka written in English. The two go hand in hand to form a genteel nostalgia that addresses everything from a broken heart to wrestling with cancer. The refined approach dignifies subjects that might otherwise appear banal or trivial, and allows poets and readers to experience the value of ordinary things. At its best, it leads to personal epiphany . . . I am I am not I am as I walk in & out of mist A. A. Marcoff34 Standing On the wide desert, Before the silent wind, My body sank Into nothingness Fumiko Ogawa35 . . . but at its worst, self-indulgent navel-gazing.
The hunger for significance marks many tanka poets. Most of them are ordinary people leading ordinary lives. They feel something is missing and they fill it with themselves. This is both bad and good. Good, when it teaches them to value themselves and what they find around them, but bad when it entraps them in a literary solipsism in which nothing outside the self and its sensations are of interest. As long as tanka poets devote themselves to capturing "the moment," they miss out on bigger topics and the growth that comes from grappling with things larger than the self. Then again, is tanka really an adequate tool for dealing with large scale subject matter? Can it cope, for example, with a world war? where Hitler danced his little jig outside Paris a mime and a monkey on the spot where he stood Michael McClintock36 Today at Pearl Harbor, From the shore line, At highest tide, A gossamer mist, With the deepest stillness. Hagino Matsuoka37 Yes. The reason that so few exist is not because tanka is inadequate, but because poets are. Tanka's art of implication enables the poet to incorporate far more into the poem than is written on the page--but the poet has to believe it is possible before he will even try. The trick to writing tanka is to see. Not just the self, but everything in the universe, large or small, near or distant, familiar or strange, and to value it. When this method of seeing is applied without reservation, it allows us to overcome our own limitations. The world is out there. As poets, all we need to do is report it. Lucille Nixon, the editor of Sounds from the Unknown, talks about this:
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For example, for years each spring I had admired a certain wild flower, the horse mint, for its lavender coloring, its fringed and delicate outline, so fragile though balanced on a stern and forbidding stem, but I had never noticed its tiny coral center. I couldn't believe that it was there when first I noticed it, and so I looked at the many blossoms to see if all were sent up from this roseate center, and sure enough, they were all the same, and had been for centuries, no doubt! I just had not been able to see.38 [emphasis in original] The poets in Sounds from the Unknown (1963) often record scenes of nature, but they also talk about war, immigration, discrimination, internment, people of color, oil wells, factories, stoves, and buses. I scoured tanka literature for Hurricane Katrina poems after the disaster in 2005, but found nothing. In the years after, only a tiny number of tanka appeared, such as: Surrounded by detritus A fallen tree, wrecked car, One FEMA trailer The house behind broken, A string of Christmas lights glow. Mark Burgh39 By contrast, there was an outpouring of poems in the aftermath of the triple disaster in Japan in 2011. Dosimeters hanging from their necks even when the children play tag with me in the green park. Taro Aizu40 It is understandable that Aizu, a former resident of Fukushima, would write about the disaster when he returned to visit his family who still live there, but why is it that American tanka
poets seemed more moved to write about the tribulations of the Japanese than their fellow citizens? There are two possible explanations: one is that everything having to do with Japan is better--a point of view that naturally follows from the insistence that we must genuflect to ancient Japanese tanka masters; but the second is that in 2005 and the years immediately after, the grip of mannered miyabi and personal subjectivity had not yet been broken. If all the tanka they had ever seen was about love, cherry blossoms, and Zen, how could tanka poets even begin to grapple with the horror that befell New Orleans? The Japanese American and Canadian poets of the mid-20th century grappled with big topics and succeeded. It was a manifesto for them. The Totsukuni tanka circle led by Tomari Yoshihiko was composed of "realists as opposed to the romanticists or symbolists."41 Lucille Nixon directly linked realism to Masaoka Shiki and modern American practice, but the generation of non-Japanese poets immediately after her did not value Sounds from the Unknown. It was not until after the MET revolution of the 21st century (see below) that tanka poets came to value this anthology. The very different responses to Hurricane Katrina and the triple disaster in Japan show that tanka in English has undergone significant development in the six years that separates the two events. The frank depiction of destruction and human suffering is no longer taboo. 4. Destabilization of Tanka Assumptions 4.1 Modern English Tanka The publication of the journal Modern English Tanka (MET), beginning in 2006, destabilized the world of late 20th century tanka. Denis M. Garrison, a long time poet and editor of short form poetry, founded MET as a deliberate escape from the orthodoxies of tanka. In the inaugural issue, Garrison wrote in his editorial, It's time to write, read, critique, and study our English tanka, per se, which presupposes the skillful use of our living language rather than some faux-Japanese-English [. . .]
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Moder n 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. [ . . .] It is not the goal of Modern English Tanka to either authoritatively define English tanka or sponsor any particular formula or template.42 For the next three years, an outpouring of tanka of all kinds filled the 250 pages of each issue of Modern English Tanka (MET) four times a year. Publishing approximately 500 poems per volume, the roughly 6000 tanka published by MET provided an outlet for tanka that had previously been kept in drawers. One of the frequent contributors was Sanford Goldstein, the master of English-language tanka. Although he had previously published several chapbooks and was co-editor with Kenneth Tamemura of the short-lived journal Five Lines Down, MET gave his work a wide exposure that served to cement his reputation as the leading tanka poet working in English. He wasn't the only one. Several poets who couldn't get published under the old regime rocketed to prominence after publishing in MET. Garrison didn't stop there. He established Modern English Tanka Press (MET Press) to publish additional journals, collections and anthologies. The MET stable of journals included Modern Haiga : Graphic Poetry (MDHG); Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (PRUJ); Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (ATPO); Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose (MHTP); Concise Delight Magazine of Short Poetry (CNDL); and Ambrosia : Journal of Fine Haiku. When health problems forced him to curtail his commitment to poetry, Atlas Poetica and Prune Juice found new homes and continued publishing in the hybrid print and online editions he pioneered. The other journals closed, and tanka was poorer for it. Another paradigm changer was the anthology Fire Pearls : Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart (FRPL) published by Keibooks in 2006. Edited without dogma as to form or
content, Fire Pearls was the first of the post-New Wave anthologies, the first thematic anthology, and the first sequenced anthology in English.43 The only previous book length sequence was Jun Fujita's Tanka : Poems in Exile (1923), although there were some chapbooks, such as Goldstein's At the Hut of the Small Mind.44 Prior to Fire Pearls, anthologies were usually organized alphabetically by poet's name. Fire Pearls divided nearly four hundred poems into five seasonal categories. Within each category, poems were sequenced to create relationships. Fire Pearls was followed by a series of anthologies published by MET Press, including The Five Hole Flute (FHFL) (sequences), Landfall : Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (LNFL), Five Lines Down : A Landmark in English Tanka (FVLD) (an omnibus of the journal), The Tanka Prose Anthology (TKPA), The Ash Moon Anthology : Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka (ASHM), Streetlights : Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka (STLT), Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volumes 1­3 (TAK5:1­3) (TAK5:4 was published by Keibooks), as well as collections by established and emerging poets. MET Press also brought out Jun Fujita : Tanka Pioneer, a collection of all of Fujita's poetry in one omnibus edition with an introduction that traces the establishment of tanka in English in the early 20th century. MET Press also published Goldstein's Four Decades on My Tanka Road, an omnibus of the master's previous hard to find chapbooks, Alexis Rotella's Lip Prints, and others. Garrison also provided technical assistance and mentoring to various poets, editors, and small presses who were able to copy the method he pioneered to publish poetry: print-on-demand (POD) publishing combined with online editions. He demonstrated that having a free online edition did not hurt print sales, but provided tens of thousands of readers the opportunity to enjoy and learn about tanka. The print circulations of Anglophone tanka journals (with the exception of Japan's The Tanka Journal (TTJ)) are minuscule, numbering only a few hundred subscribers. It is the online journals and websites that collectively reach as many as a hundred thousand readers a year.
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In the ensuing years numerous projects have come to fruition in the hands of a variety of editors and poets, but covering those developments in depth will be deferred to this author's History of Tanka in English. What is important is the sheer mass of MET Press publication. It was not just a shot across the bow of New Wave tanka--it was an entire broadside. The challenge would not go unanswered. Established journals were unwavering in their commitment to their editorial ideals, but they could not prevent new journals from being founded, so they had to compete for readers and submissions from a much more diverse and demanding audience. Some of them folded. So did some of the new venues. Blowback came from various quarters, sometimes from established poets who passed judgment, claiming that not only were some poems not tanka, they weren't even poetry! Most of the criticism was informal via email discussion groups and similar forums. On the other hand, some established poets, such as Alexis Rotella, who had been publishing Japaniform poetry since the 1970s, embraced the new possibilities. Rotella founded Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka precisely because she wanted to "get things moving."45 4.2 S-L-S-L-L as `Traditional' Tanka The formal response came in the summer of 2009 in the form of a jointly authored article by Amelia Fielden, Robert Wilson, and ironically, Denis M. Garrison. They published "A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English." It appeared in both Wilson's journal, Simply Haiku (SH), and in Garrison's Modern English Tanka (MET). While there are linguistic and orthographic differences between Japanese and English that cannot be fully resolved, we believe that it is possible to follow the centuries-old waka/ tanka formal poetic tradition to a substantial and meaningful degree. We do not seek to define nor deal with avant-garde innovations based on tanka in this paper, nor do we seek to restrain poetic experimentation by any poet.46
They laid out seven "essential guidelines for writing `Traditional Tanka in English' in the ideal form,"47 which include but are not limited to a set syllable count of 19­31 English syllables, a set pattern of lines in the form of short-long-shortlong-long with an ideal syllable pattern of 3-5-3-5-5 but permitting minor variations, a stop to end each line ("five phrases on five lines"), and a strong fifth line that should not be shorter than the others. They accepted various subjects and treatments with the exception of polemics or didactic works. My own analysis of syllables in a tanka leads me to believe that their proffered syllable count is too long to approximate the usual Japanese rhythm. I recommend 17­26 syllables, but I accept considerable variation. This is because the English syllable is far more dynamic than a Japanese unit of sound. "Radio diva" is five syllables, but "stretched" is only one. Kozue Uzawa, a Japanese-Canadian tanka poet, editor, and translator, recommends twenty syllables. As for syllable counting, I personally like to use about 20 English syllables because this shortness is very close to Japaneses [sic] tanka. If you don't like to count syllables, just count words. Use 10 ~ 15 words, or up to 20 words at maximum.48 This was adopted and announced as editorial policy for Gusts, the journal of Tanka Canada, in issue 7, Spring/Summer, 2007. Uzawa, along with Amelia Fielden, edited and translated the highly regarded Ferris Wheel : 101 Modern and Contemporary Tanka in 2006. Her own poetry reflects this preference for twenty syllables. white pulp of a baby pumpkin no smell no taste, simply soft seeds not yet formed Kozue Uzawa49 Saeko Ogi is a tanka poet and translator who was born in Japan. She currently lives in
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Australia. In an interview with Guy Simser, she describes tanka in English as commonly having a pattern of 3-4-3-4-4 syllables, or eighteen syllables total--less than the lower bound set by Wilson-Fielden-Garrison. When translating English to Japanese, she renders them as 5-7-5-7-7.50 Although Ogi provides no evidence in support of her contention that "most" tanka in English are 3-4-3-4-4 in pattern, that someone who is a highly experienced poet and translator regards it as normative shows yet again that there are legitimately varying opinions regarding proper form in English. Regardless of the various pronouncements made, when we look at tanka as it is actually written by highly qualified and well-regarded poets, we see immense variation. Hypometric and hypermetric lines are common. For example, Sanford Goldstein's tanka range from twelve to thirty-six syllables in length. Goldstein quotes Takuboku in an editorial in Five Lines Down, Some may criticize us by saying this will destroy the rhythm of tanka itself. No matter. If the conventional rhythm has ceased to suit our mood, why hesitate to change it? If the limitations of thirty-one syllables is felt inconvenient, we should freely use lines with extra syllables.51 In fact, it is not entirely clear that the Japanese count "syllables" at all, as per Richard Gilbert. That is why advocates of the "traditional" style have offered S-L-S-L-L as an alternative. The trouble is, short and long what? sound? printed line length? absolute or relative length? Not only do English syllables differ in sound, they also differ in appearance. Examining the formatting of numerous S-L-S-L-L tanka suggests that the de facto definition of short and long has nothing to do with prosody but is an artifact of formatting. Thus numbers and symbols are used for short lines that when spoken aloud are longer than their printed length, sometimes even longer than the poem's "long" lines.
We can see the artificiality of this dictate when it results in a mangled line for no good reason except to conform to the format. this moon watching her dance on the shorelines as if the stars exist Robert D. Wilson52 Wilson isn't usually as egregious as this, but it's hard to find a better example of why it's wrong to let the format dictate the line breaks. The real poem is: this moon watching her dance on the shorelines as if the stars exist "As if " can justify a line of its own, but "on the" cannot. The poem has been forced into conformity with Wilson's edict regarding S-L-SL-L. The arbitrary shape is an artifact of formatting and does not conform to units of prosody and meaning. Wilson prepended the SH edition of "Traditional tanka" with an introduction that was even longer than the article. He offered his own definition of tanka: A 5 lined poem that makes use of breaks (cutting words: i.e., punctuation or ellipsis, whenever necessary), utilizes a meter similar to that found in Japanese tanka, makes use of Japanese aesthetics, follows as much as possible the S-L-S-L-L schemata, makes use of juxtaposition as needed, and is not a haiku or senryu masquerading as a tanka such as a five lined poem using one or two words per line.53 Wilson's definition contradicts the paper he co-authored. In particular, if the paper's ideal for short lines is only three syllables, they must, of
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necessity, be composed of one, two, or three words. Prohibiting lines of one or two words imposes an unreasonable restriction to the form, and indeed, Wilson cannot mean that because the two examples he offers each have lines composed of one or two words. Maybe what Wilson meant is that a line should not be composed of one or two syllables, but that's not what he wrote. Wilson admires a poem by Carole MacRury, sleep-walking through my childhood . . . until I wake to forgive and kiss my dying father goodbye Carole MacRury54 "Sleep-walking" is a line composed of a single word that demonstrates why counting anything-- words, syllables, or stresses--is a problematic way to compose tanka in English. The core of Wilson's definition is the S-L-SL-L format because the rest of the items are optional. A five lined poem that uses breaks "as needed" contradicts the recommended full stops in the "traditional" article. Likewise terms such as "a meter similar to that found in Japanese" and "makes use of juxtaposition as needed" provide a lot of wiggle room. His definition boils down to poem written in S-L-S-L-L with Japanese aesthetics. Wilson's own Simply Haiku is the only venue that implements his view of tanka. Of course that is his editorial prerogative, but as long as his own publications are the only ones to embody it, it represents a personal point of view, not a definition. (Cattails also espouses S-L-S-L-L, but has not yet published its first issue as of this writing.) Gusts shares some of the concepts (Amelia Fielden served on the editorial committee at the time)55, but Gusts has its own distinctive editorial voice. Editor Kozue Uzawa's preference for shorter tanka results in a lighter, suppler tanka. As soon as the "traditional" definition appeared, it was roundly challenged. Numerous
poets and editors, including this author, disagreed with it, and disagreed even with the notion that the form of tanka described qualifies as "traditional." There is no "traditional tanka" in English. A wide variety of adaptions have been made over the decades and they are all valid approaches. None enjoys consensus. Harking back to Hartmann and Fujita, we can see that they are both "traditional" in the sense that their approaches have persisted over time and been followed by a variety of poets and editors. Neither of them conforms to the definition given in Wilson, Fielden, and Garrison. Both are far older and have the virtue not only of longevity, but of being created by poets who were native speakers of Japanese and well-educated in both Japanese and Western literature. In other words, S-L-S-L-L is just one of many legitimate adaptions. Translating tanka from Japanese to English is no easy thing. An entire book is devoted to the subject, Nakagawa Atsuo's Tanka in English : In Pursuit of World Tanka (1987, 1990). It gives extensive attention to problems of structure and adaption, which in turn provides a number of linguistically valid methods of translation. It logically follows that the same diverse methods are also legitimate methods for composing tanka in English. 4.3 The Kyoka Challenge Beginning in 2006, kyoka was offered as an alternative outside the tasteful parameters of the New Wave. Articles and poetry published in MET stimulated interest. In 2006, a poem labeled "kyoka" appeared in Moonset, Volume 2:1, Spring, 2006. Prior to that, two poems labeled "kyoka-style" were published in The Tanka Anthology (2003). The Kyoka Mad Poems email list was founded as a workshop in 2006 and continues to this day. In 2009, Robin Gill published Mad in Translation, a massive compendium of kyoka translated from the Japanese, the first and only of its sort. It was followed by the Mad in Translation Reader, featuring a selection from the original. Prior to that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Viking Press translated and published two
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kyoka books illustrated by Utamaro, the famous woodblock print artist, A Chorus of Birds (1981) and Songs of the Garden (1984). They circulated principally among art lovers, not tanka poets. Kyoka was also mentioned in some of the scholarly anthologies, such as those by Donald Keene. The kyoka below from Mad in Translation is an example of how kyoka could parody the classical waka. Though this body, I know, is a thing of no substance, must it fade, alas, so swiftly, like a soundless fart?56 Alexis Rotella, well known for writing both tanka and senryu, embraced kyoka. In 2008 she published a collection of her own poetry, Looking for a Prince : A Collection of Senryu and Kyoka. She also founded Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (PRUJ) with its first issue appearing early in 2009. It later spun off from MET Press and came under the editorship of Liam Wilkinson, then Terri French. Rotella is the best and most consistent poet writing kyoka in English. Her poem below shares a sensibility with the kyoka above, but it is a thoroughly modern poem. Old man-- first he asks to die, then for a ham sandwich. Alexis Rotella57 Also founded in 2008, Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka (ATPO) (originally Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka) expressly included kyoka in its submission guidelines. Thus two journals came into existence in 2008 that saw kyoka as part of their editorial vision. In 2010, Richard Stevenson published Windfall Apples : Tanka and Kyoka. In 2011, Atlas Poetica published "25 Tanka
for Children," a special feature online. In spite of the name, a number of the poems were kyoka and exhibited a playfulness of language not often found in tanka. In 2012, Pieces of Her Mind : Women Find Their Voices in Centuries Old Forms, edited by Alvin Thomas Ethington, appeared. It featured haiga, senryu, and kyoka by women. Japanese American poets had been writing tanka on humorous or even vulgar subject matter for years.
I cross a field the fine autumn day and cut a fart it sounds dry--tomorrow should be a fine day too Konoshima Kisaburo58 translated by David Callner Anglophone advocates of kyoka saw it as an avenue to escape the mannerism of New Wave tanka, but although kyoka continues to appear, it remains a minority interest. It did not revolutionize the tanka world. Nonetheless, because tanka and kyoka have exactly the same form in Japanese but are different genres, it explicates why form alone is not a sufficient definition for tanka. The existence of kyoka also points out that the content and style of Anglophone tanka are not yet as broad as advocates claim, although great strides have been made in recent years. 4.4 The Gogyohka and Gogyoshi Alternatives In the early 1990s in Japan, Kusakabe Enta invented gogyohka, a five line poem derived from tanka. It scrapped the sanjuichi form and defined itself by writing short poems on five lines; "gogyohka" simply means "five line poem."59 Gogyohka consciously rejected tanka, but tanka aesthetics permeate the work published so far in English. On the other hand, gogyohka encourages sincerity of expression, so works that would be considered naive or undeveloped by English tanka readers are considered fresh and direct when published as gogyohka. Starting in
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1994, Enta established a Gogyohka Society in Japan and began publishing the Gogyohka Journal.60 In 2006, his book Gogyohka was published in English. He held the first Gogyohka Conference in 2008. In 2006, he started holding workshops in the United States. This was followed by the formation of a Gogyohka Society for North America,61 and the establishment of the Gogyohka Junction forum online. A handful of publications in English followed. Starting in about 2010, gogyohka caught the attention of tanka poets on Twitter. It became a fad with many experimenting with the form. The #gogyohka hashtag rapidly came to outnumber the #tanka hashtag.62 Many poets tried gogyohka and declared that it offered greater freedom than tanka. Although significant changes and expansions had occurred in the type of tanka being published in English, the fascination that gogyohka held for tanka poets illustrates an ongoing disaffection, even after those limits had largely fallen away. Disputes among poets erupted with a constant discussion about how to differentiate gogyohka from tanka in English. Enta had not been aware of the indigenous English-language tanka movement before he began his workshops, and it was difficult to distinguish gogyohka that didn't count sound units from contemporary English-language tanka that didn't count syllables. Some advocates made the "breath" the basis of the line for gogyohka, but it is not clear whether such arguments required the lines to be end-stopped. If so, this is a difference from tanka, but if not, there is no discernible difference. The two have come to an equivalent place via different routes. Debate erupted between Taro Aizu, a former student of gogyohka, and Enta. Aizu advocated an even freer implementation of gogyohka. Enta trademarked the word "gogyohka" in Japan. When word of Enta's trademark reached English speakers, ATPO switched to using the public domain term "gogyoshi" in order to avoid infringing on Enta's trademark. A flurry erupted among Anglophone poets, but the term "gogyoshi" did not catch on with them. Gogyohka continues to be a popular hashtag on
Twitter, but interest in gogyohka and gogyoshi has waned among tanka poets. In 2011, Taro Aizu published his "Declaration of Gogyoshi"63 in the pages of ATPO. Aizu embraced a broad view of the world's five line forms of poetry, including Western and Eastern forms. He sought some sort of unification among them, although what he envisioned was not exactly clear. He also republished his earlier book, The Lovely Earth, in English translation. The following poem appears in The Lovely Earth and embodies the lack of adornment prized in gogyohka and gogyoshi. It resembles the approach of poets in Sounds from the Unknown, where kokoro ("heart," i.e., sincerity) is valued, Is my cat really dead? I caress her throat very softly Aizu Taro64 Gogyohka and gogyoshi failed to establish any English-language journals, and aside from the acceptance of the forms in ATPO, didn't make any inroads among existing journals or websites. Gogyohka and gogyoshi attracted the attention of far more poets than kyoka did, but it had even less impact on tanka. 4.5 Small Issues This article has explored major developments but omitted several smaller ones, such as the tankeme (2-3-2-3-3 beats), word tanka (one word on each line for five lines), shaped tanka (a tanka arranged to form a shape, such as a cross or circle), and other tanka adaptions. Experimentation continues. For example, Professor Stephen Carter, the well-known translator, has tried exploding tanka translations on up to ten lines.65 Others, such as Marlene Mountain, have tried writing tanka in English on two lines. Matsukaze has been experimenting with three line and one line tanka. Edward Seidensticker advocated a two line tanka in
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iambic pentameter.66 Most recently, Chase Fire has founded the online journal Skyline, a Journal of Modern and Experimental Tanka to provide a venue for tanka experimentation. (Skyline has not yet published an issue as of this writing.) Some have advocated the use of rhyme, quatrain, or other methods. None of these smaller efforts has garnered widespread interest or spawned any journals aside from Skyline. 4.6 Tanka As It Is The most comprehensive attempt to survey tanka as it is found was the Take Five anthology series. Each year for four years, the editorial team read all tanka published in English to select approximately three hundred poems for inclusion in an annual volume, along with several pieces of tanka prose and tanka sequences. In the final year, the team read in excess of eighteen thousand poems in more than a hundred and eighty venues.67 Media ranged from print journals to poet blogs to symphonic music to chapbooks to videos and more. The four volumes, covering material published 2008­2011, gives a valuable snapshot of tanka of the modern era. What emerges is a portrait of a highly diverse field of skilled poets working with a variety of techniques to create poetry that is supple, muscular, and insightful. No single approach dominates. 5. Definition The problem of tanka is how to define it. Any definition must be broad enough to encompass tanka as it is written in English, narrow enough to exclude its relatives, consistent enough to show its Japanese roots, and flexible enough to permit innovation. All of the ideas described above have merits and demerits, but none has been universally adopted. Closeness to the Japanese original cannot be the basis of authority in English-language tanka. On the other hand, distance from the Japanese is not the basis of authority, either. This apparently contradictory position can only be resolved if we step back and realize that tanka is no longer a Japanese literature. This may strike some as a
profoundly radical position. Clearly, tanka originated in Japan and has been going strong there for fourteen hundred years, but just as clearly, it is now written in scores of languages around the world. Defining tanka requires a "unified field theory" that takes in all the various methods of adaption, tradition, and innovation. The definition must account for all of tanka's manifestations from ancient times to the present in whatever language it appears. It cannot depend on tautology or solipsism, but must be an objective standard that any reader can apply. The pragmatic definition that has arisen from the work of many poets, editors, publishers, and readers is this: Tanka is a short lyric poem originally from Japan composed of five poetic phrases conventionally written on five lines in English. Additions and restrictions are proposed by various parties to expand or contract the definition, but the statement above is generally accepted as being part of tanka's definition, even when it is not accepted as the whole. The reason why definition has been so fraught is the fear that if a definition is accepted, it will result in the gatekeepers refusing to publish things that "aren't really tanka." This is a legitimate fear: editors have the right--and duty --to publish poetry that embodies their editorial vision. That means they have the right to turn down poems that don't adhere to their guidelines. Fortunately, publication venues have multiplied to the point that there are dozens available. Further, print-on-demand and ebook technologies, online venues, and social media provide outlets where anyone can publish anything. We live in an era of almost perfect liberty for anyone who is willing to learn some new technology. The reign of the gatekeepers is over. 6. Conclusion If anyone can publish anything they wish, why do we even need a definition? Because definitions allow us to understand what we're
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talking about. Although it is fashionable to say we don't want to label our poetry, in truth, terms are handles that help us to pick up ideas and carry them around. Although writing poetry is generally conducted as an intuitive practice, it is actually a skill that can be studied, learned, and enhanced, but only if we have an effective vocabulary. In short, understanding tanka better makes for better poets, editors, and readers. Kei, M. A History of Tanka in English, Part 1 : The North American Foundation, 1899­1985. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2013. Accessed 18 March 2014. 2 Kei, M. `Introduction.' Jun Fujita : Tanka Pioneer. Denis M. Garrison, ed. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007. 3 Hartmann, Sadakichi. Drifting Flowers of the Sea and Other Poems, self-published, 1904, p 10. Digitized 19 September 2005. Accessed 1 November 2007. 4 Fujita, Jun. `A Japanese Cosmopolite.' Poetry Magazine. Chicago, IL. June 1922, pp. 162­164. 5 Ibid. 6 Garrison, Denis M., ed. Jun Fujita : Tanka Pioneer. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 43. 7 Gilbert, Richard. "Stalking the Wild Onji : The Search for Current Linguistic Terms Used in Japanese Poetry Circles." AHAPoetry, undated. Accessed 20 October 2011. 8 Moldovan, Vasile, ed. `25 Romanian Tanka Poets in Romanian and English.' Magdalena Dale, et al., trans. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2010. Accessed 17 September 2012. 9 Dornaus, Margaret. `Carles Riba and Catalonian Tanka.' Atlas Poetica 10. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Autumn, 2011, p 64­66.
10 All items on this list are verbatim from: Reichhold, Jane. `Lesson Seven Comparing Haiku with Tanka.' Wind Five Folded School of Tanka. Gualala, CA: AHA Poetry, 2011. Accessed 28 August 2011. 11 Reichhold, Jane. Appears in Reichhold, Jane and Werner, eds. Wind Five Folded : An Anthology of English-Language Tanka. Gualala, CA: AHA Books, 1994, p 159. 12 Reichhold, Jane. `Circling the Pivot Again.' Lynx, a journal for linking poets. XXII: 1. Gualala, CA: AHABooks, February 2007. 13 Goldstein, Sanford. `Tanka As Open Form.' Five Lines Down: A Landmark in English Tanka. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 95. 14 Ferrell, Donna, moderator. Mountain-Home : A Modern Waka Workshop. Accessed 23 August 2012. 15 Ibid. 16 Ferrell, Donna. Mountain-Home : A Modern Waka Workshop. 26 May 2010. Accessed 23 August 2012. 17 Ibid. 18 Cranston, Edwin A., ed. & trans. A Waka Anthology : Volume One : The Gem-Glistening Cup. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993, p 7. 19 Ibid, p xviii. 20 Gilbert, Richard. "Stalking the Wild Onji : The Search for Current Linguistic Terms Used in Japanese Poetry Circles." AHAPoetry, undated. Accessed 20 October 2011. 21 Aizu, Taro. "Declaration of Gogyoshi." Atlas Poetica 10. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Autumn, 2011, p 78. 22 Goldstein, Sanford. In M. Kei et al, eds. Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 2. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2010, p 143. 23 Ai Akitsu. In Lowitz, Leza et al, eds. a long rainy season : haiku and tanka. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 1994, p. 83.
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24 Motoko Michiura. Ibid, p. 103. 25 Bob Lucky. In Modern English Tanka 1:4. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, Spring, 2007, p 109. 26 Lawrence, Father Neal, quote by Sanford Goldstein in `From This Side of Five Lines Down.' Five Lines Down : A Landmark of English Tanka, a Compilation of All Issues 1994­1996. Denis M. Garrison, ed. Baltimore, MD: Modern English Tanka Press, 2007, p 20. 27 Tuttle, Charles E. `Publisher's Foreword.' Japan : Theme and Variations. Rutland, VT & Tokyo, JP: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1957, p. xi. 28 Smyth, Florida Watts. `Festival of Spring.' Tuttle, Charles E., ed. Japan : Theme and Variations. Rutland, VT & Tokyo, JP: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1957, p. 33. 29 Emrich, Jeanne. In Ward, Linda Jeannette, ed. Full Moon Tide : The Best of Tanka Splendor 1990­1999. Coinjock, NC: Clinging Vine Press, p. 55. 30 Daleiden, John. In Kei, M., ed. Fire Pearls : Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2006, p. 131. 31 Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1979, pp 1­6. 32 Lucky, Bob. In Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 3. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2011, p. 49. 33 Saigy. In `Snipe Rising from a Marsh.' Rodney Williams, ed. and trans. Atlas Poetica Special Features. 2012. Accessed 17 September 2012. 34 Marcoff, A. A. In Kei, M. et al, eds. Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Vol. 2. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, p 121. 35 Ogawa, Fumiko. In Nixon, Lucille. Sounds from the Unknown : A Collection of Japanese American Tanka. Denver, CO: Alan Swallow, 1963, p 118. 36 McClintock, Michael. In Atlas Poetica, Vol. 1. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, p 58. 37 Matsuoka, Hagino. In Nixon, Lucille. `Introduction.' Sounds from the Unknown : A Collection of Japanese American Tanka. Denver, CO: Alan Swallow, 1963, p 43.
38 Nixon, Lucille. `Introduction.' Sounds from the Unknown : A Collection of Japanese American Tanka. Denver, CO: Alan Swallow, 1963, p xvi­xvii. 39 Burgh, Mark. In Atlas Poetica 10. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Autumn, 2011, p 34. 40 Aizu, Taro. `Our Hometown : Fukushima, A Gogyoshibun.' Atlas Poetica 12. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Summer, 2012, p 9. 41 Nixon, Lucille. `Introduction.' Sounds from the Unknown : A Collection of Japanese American Tanka. Denver, CO: Alan Swallow, 1963, p xix. 42 Garrison, Denis M., ed. "I'll Tell You About Onions." Modern English Tanka 1:1. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, Autumn, 2006, p. 1­3. 43 Kei, M. `List of Tanka Anthologies.' Atlas Poetica. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2013. Accessed 5 July 2013. 44 Goldstein, Sanford. At the Hut of the Small Mind. Gualala, CA: AHA Books, 1992. Accessed 30 June 2013. 45 Rotella, Alexis. `Editor's Note.' Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka 1. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, Winter, 2009. Accessed 20 October 2011. 46 Fielden, Amelia; Denis M. Garrison, & Robert Wilson. "A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English." Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. Accessed 20 October 2011. 47 Ibid. 48 Uzawa, Kozue. `What is Tanka?' Tanka Canada. Accessed 17 September 2012. 49 In Gusts : Contemporary Tanka 13. Burnaby, BC: Tanka Canada, Spring/Summer, 2012, p 15.
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50 Ogi, Saeko. An Interview with Saeko Ogi, tanka poet and translator in Australia. Guy Simser, interviewer. Simply Haiku : THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL of English Language Traditional Japanese Short Form Poetry. 8:3. Spring, 2011. Accessed 17 September 2012. 51 Ishikawa, Takuboku. Quoted in Goldstein, Sanford. `From This Side of Five Lines Down.' Five Lines Down : A Landmark in English Tanka. Denis M. Garrison, ed. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 20. 52 Wilson, Robert D. A Lousy Mirror. 31 March 2012. Accessed 17 September 2012. 53 Wilson, Robert. `Introduction to A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.' Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. Accessed 20 October 2011. 54 MacRury, Carole. In Wilson, Robert. `Introduction to A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.' Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. Accessed 17 September 2012. 55 Fielden, Amelia. Gusts : Contemporary Tanka 5. Burnaby, BC: Tanka Canada, Spring/Summer, 2007, p 1. 56 Gill, Robin, trans. and ed. Mad in Translation. Key Biscayne, FL: Paraverse Press, 2009, p 455. 57 Ibid. 58 Konoshima, Kisaburo. David Callner, trans. Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry, 7:1. Spring, 2009. Accessed 17 September 2012. 59 Enta, Kusakabe, ed. Gogyohka. (Second Edition) Matthew Lane & Elizabeth Phaire, trans. Tokyo, JP: Shisei-sha, 2009 [2006], p 20. 60 Ibid, p 21.
61 `Mr. Enta Kusakabe, Founder.' The Gogyohka Society. 14 April 2011. . Accessed 17 September 2012. 62 Kei, M. `The Topsy Turvy World of Micropoetry on Twitter.' Atlas Poetica 9. Summer, 2011, p 56. 63 Aizu, Taro. `Declaration of Gogyoshi.' Atlas Poetica 10. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Autumn, 2011, p 78. 64 Aizu, Taro. The Lovely Earth. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Enterprises, 2011, p 6. 65 Carter, Stephen, ed. Unforgotten Dreams : Poems by the Zen Monk Shtetsu. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1997. 66 Goldstein, Sanford. `Tanka As Open Form.' Five Lines Down: A Landmark in English Tanka. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 95. 67 Kei, M. et al, eds. Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2012, p 10.
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1
ANNOUNCEMENTS
Atlas Poetica will publish short announcements in any language up to 300 words in length on a space available basis. Announcements may be edited for brevity, clarity, grammar, or any other reason. Send announcements in the body of an email to: [email protected] not send attachments. *** Tomoe Tana's "History of Japanese Tanka Poetry in America" Published Tomoe Tana (1913­1991) was an American tanka poet, editor, and translator. Best known for editing and translating Sounds from the Unknown with Lucille Nixon (1963), she had numerous accomplishments in the field of tanka poetry. A member of the "Totsukuni" tanka circle of California, she was also a winner of the Imperial Poetry Contest (1949), an editor, translator, publisher, and scholar of tanka in America. In 1985 she obtained her master's degree at San Jose State University. Tana's history covers the United States, Canada, and to a lesser extent, Brazil and South America. Pouring over tanka publications and Japanese language newspapers, Tana documented a large segment of tanka published by people of Japanese descent in North America, and to a lesser extent, non-Japanese poets. Particularly compelling are her details of life for
the internees (she was herself interned during WW2), such as how Tomari Yoshihiko (her sensei), cut stencils by hand in order to publish not just newsletters, but entire books of tanka while interned. In addition to the history, Tana includes appendices of useful information, including a listing of American winners of the Imperial Poetry Contest from 1949 to 1984 with translations of their poems, and Zaibei db haykunin isshu / One Hundred Tanka by our Countrymen in America, which had previously only been published in fragments in Japan. The anthology was the result of a poetry contest with 5000 (five thousand) tanka submitted. It was judged by a trio of Japanese judges: Kubota Utsubo, Sait Mokichi, and Shaku Chak. Readers of tanka will recognize Mokichi as one of the great Japanese tanka poets of the modern era. We thank Shibun Tana, Mrs. Tana's son, who has granted permission to publish his mother's master's thesis online. Scanned and photocopied by Tina Nguyen, with an introduction by M. Kei, it is now available in the Resources section of the Atlas Poetica website. It can be accessed at: http://atlaspoetica.org/? page_id=705 (Scroll down to `Tanka Articles.') Previously this extremely rare document existed only in one official copy in the San Jose State University Library, and in a handful of photocopies and scans. Keibooks is proud to make this important document available to any one interested in tanka in America.
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Skyline Journal Experimental Tanka Established Skyline is a bi-annual tanka publication with a focus on work with bold and experimental content, which might not be accepted in other tanka publications. Some of the themes we like involve references to myths or the unreal, bold erotica, personification, religion, poems with strong language, and even tanka that follow structural differences, such as three line tanka and one image tanka. Main site: http://skylinetanka.webs.com/ *** Soumettre а Cirrus APPEL А TANKA POUR LA REVUE Йlectronique CIRRUS: tankas de nos jours Maxianne Berger de Montrйal, Canada et Mike Montreuil d'Ottawa, Canada lancent un appel а tanka, en vue de la publication d'une nouvelle revue йlectronique dйdiйe au tankas contemporains. Le lancement du premier numйro est prйvu pour la fin janvier 2014. Notre vision esthйtique repose sur l'essence du tanka ­ sa briиvetй, sa lйgиretй et sa subtilitй. Nous cherchons des poиmes qui par leur simple expression vont йvoquer une rйaction йmotive chez les lecteurs, et non des poиmes qui expriment une йmotion ou un sentiment en utilisant son nom abstrait. Nous prйfйrons des tankas oщ les liens entre les fragments qui forment les vers restent fluides: tout en йvitant des listes d'йpicerie, il n'est pas nйcessaire de lier tous les vers de faзon explicite quand la juxtaposition de fragments а elle seule peut en йtablir le lien. Jusqu'а 5 tankas par poиte peuvent кtre soumis. Pour chaque tanka, il est sous-entendu que le/la poиte en est l'auteur, qu'il ou elle dйtient tous les droits, et nous accorde le droit de
publier sur le site web de la revue les tankas qui seront acceptйs. Les tankas soumis ne doivent en aucun cas avoir йtй dйjа publiйs. Ils doivent кtre inйdits et ne peuvent pas кtre soumis ailleurs. Les tankas йcrits dans une langue autre que le franзais seront acceptйs s'ils sont accompagnйs par une traduction franзaise. Les directeurs se rйservent le droit de faire des modifications des poиmes traduits. Les soumissions devront кtre expйdiйes par courriel, et uniquement pendant la pйriode de soumission qui s'йtendra entre le 1er et le 30 novembre 2013 pour une publication а la fin de janvier 2014. (Les soumissions reзues avant ou aprиs cette date ne seront pas lues.) А: [email protected] Objet: soumission tanka 2013 Tous les tankas devront paraоtre dans le courriel mкme et non en piиce-jointe. *** A Solitary Woman Published by Pamela A. Babusci I am happy to announce that my second tanka book: A Solitary Woman has been published. If you would like a signed copy, please send your request to me. The price for the US is $15 plus $3 S&H; Canada $15 plus $3.50 S&H, Aust., NZ, England, Japan $15 plus 6.50 S&H. Anybody can use Paypal if they desire, please just add $1 extra to cover Paypal fees. I will have copies of my tanka book by Jan. 7th, but, copies can be purchased now on Createspace. Checks or International money orders made out to: Pamela A. Babusci Pamela A. Babusci 244 Susan Lane Apt. B Rochester, NY 14616 USA You can also, purchase my book at once at .
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2014 One Man's Maple Moon: Call for Tanka Submissions Send your best published tanka (please provide publication credits) or new work and a bio sketch (50 words max.) with the subject heading "Published or Unpublished Tanka, Your Name, Submitted Date" to Chen-ou Liu, Blog Editor and Translator via email at [email protected] And place your tanka directly in the body of the email. DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS. No more than 20 tanka per submission and no simultaneous submissions. And please wait for at least three months for another new submission. Deadline: November 1, 2014. Please note that only those whose tanka are selected for publication will be notified within three weeks, and that no other notification will be sent out, so your works are automatically freed up after three weeks to submit elsewhere. The accepted tanka will be translated into Chinese and posted on NeverEnding Story and Twitter. Of them, the best 66 tanka will be included in the anthology, which is scheduled to be published in June of 2015, and the poet whose tanka is chosen as the best tanka of the year will be given a 3-page space to feature the tanka of his/her choice. For those whose tanka are included in the anthology, each will receive a copy of its e-book edition. *** Toolbox Passes Away 21 March 2014, Newark, DE, USA. Toolbox, senior ship's cat of the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel, went to Fiddler's Green. She frequently appeared in the tanka of M. Kei, including: do sailor cats dream of Fiddler's Green where every day brings bowls of cream and slow-flying sparrows?
Bright Stars, An Organic Tanka Anthology, Call for Submissions Complete Guidelines at: http:// atlaspoetica.org/?p=952 Bright Stars is an experimental project from Keibooks that will run for one calendar year (2014). As an anthology, it will publish both new and socially published tanka (within certain parameters) in as many volumes as can be filled with intriguing work. All volumes will be published in 2014. As each volume fills, it will go to press and subsequent submissions will be considered for the next volume. There is no planned number of volumes: it will depend entirely on the quantity and quality of submissions. It will not follow a fixed schedule. The content of the anthology and the press of other business will determine the schedule. Bright Stars focuses on the Japanese aesthetic of `akarui'--bright, light, illuminated, brilliant, shiny, brassy, active, energetic, noisy, loud, happy, drunk, passionate, wild, playful, vivid, and boundless. That doesn't mean you can't send us dark poems--black is a color too--but it should be an active darkness, not a hand wringing, genteelly sighing darkness. Experiments are welcome here. If you've written something and you're afraid the standard tanka venues won't consider it, send it here. We make no promises, but we're open to new ideas. To Submit Send up to 40 unpublished or socially published tanka to [email protected] gmail dot com. Reading window: November 10, 2013 thru September 30, 2014. Guidelines at: http://atlaspoetica.org/? p=952 Addendum: sedoka, mondo, and cherita welcome.
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BIOGRAPHIES
Alenka Zorman is the former president of the Haiku Club of Slovenia and editor of its journal Letni casi / Seasons. Her two haiku books Metulj na rami / Butterfly on the Shoulder (2004) and Notranja osvoboditev / Inner Liberation (2006) have been published in Slovenia and Macedonia. Her haiku and tanka also appear in Slovenian literary journals and on-line journals. Alexander Jankiewicz was born and raised in Chicago, IL, USA and currently lives in the United Arab Emirates with his wife and two daughters. Alexis Rotella has been writing haiku, senryu and tanka for 30 years. Her work has appeared internationally in hundreds of publications. Her books include Lip Prints (tanka 1979­2007), Ouch (senryu 1979­2007) and Eavesdropping (haiku 2007). Amada Burgard lives with her quirky family in beautiful central Michigan, USA. She is a poet, writer and lover of tanka, with several upcoming publications. Autumn Noelle Hall lives in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, shadowed by mountain lions, ravens, and a predatory urge to write. Her Asian Short Form poetry and nature photography have been featured online and in journals worldwide. Whether snapping a hummingbird's dance with her camera, hiking the pine needled slopes of Pikes Peak, or throwing found fossils to read the I Ching, Autumn is ever gathering the stuff of tanka. Bernice Yap is an aspiring writer who currently dabbles in poetry and short stories. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Having graduated and worked as an economist, Brane Grgurovic has been a fisherman for 23 years. His haiku were published in the Slovenian journals Apokalipsa and Primorska srecanja, and also in two Croatian miscellanies, in the Romanian cultural journal Cronica, in Ardea and Slovenska tanka. Brian Zimmer lives in St. Louis Missouri within walking distance of the great Mississippi River. His work has appeared in various publications & journals both online and in print, including Modern Tanka Today, red lights, The Tanka Journal (Japan), Gusts & Skylark. He has been writing both micro and longer poetry for over forty years, devoting most of his efforts today to tanka and other Japanese short forms.
C. William Hinderliter was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. Though he is a Registered Hypnotist, he prefers to spend his time writing poetry. His latest work can be seen in Frogpond, Prune Juice and Star*Line, to Kamesan's World Haiku Anthology on War, Violence and Human Rights Violation. Carole Harrison combines her love of photography, long distance walking and short form poetry. Her work has been published in Eucalypt, Atlas Poetica, plus other anthologies and on-line pages. She lives in country Australia with her husband, surrounded by rainforest, a dairy farm and lots of local birds. Carole Johnston lives in Lexington, Kentucky, but her heart still wanders the Jersey Shore. Recently retired from teaching creative writing in a high school arts program, she is free to pursue her passion for writing tanka and haiku. She is now `cloud hidden' alone all day with her dog, working on a novel. Charles Tarlton is a retired university professor currently living in Oakland, California with his wife. After a long career writing about the history of political theory, his interests now are focused entirely on tanka, particularly the mixtures of verse and discourse in tanka prose. Chen-ou Liu lives in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of four books, including Following the Moon to the Maple Land (First Prize Winner of the 2011 Haiku Pix Chapbook Contest). His tanka and haiku have been honored with many awards. Constantine E. Fourakis was born in Chania, Crete, Greece. He studied Law as well as Economic and Political Sciences and followed post-graduation studies in Linguistics at the University of Oxford, UK. Settled in Athens, Greece, he became an educationalist with British and Greek Colleges as well as a translator and simultaneous interpreter in the early 80's and been awarded by international distinctions and praises. Christina Nguyen is a Minnesota copywriter, poet, and mom. She likes to play around in Facebook groups, especially Tanka Poets on Site, NaHaiWriMo, and Senryu & Kyoka. She is also fond of tweeting as @TinaNguyen. Debbie Strange is a member of the Writers' Collective of Manitoba and the United Haiku and
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Tanka Society. Her writing has received awards, and has been published in print and online by numerous journals. Her photographs have been published, and were recently featured in an exhibition. Debbie is currently assembling a collection of haiga and tankart. She can be found on Twitter @Debbie_Strange. Deborah P Kolodji is the moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group and the former president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. In addition to Atlas Poetica, her work can be found in Modern Haiku, Ribbons, Red Lights, Frogpond, bottle rockets, Strange Horizons, Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul, and other places. Diana Teneva is a Bulgarian writer. She has appeared in Sketchbook, World Haiku Review, The Heron's Nest, The Mainichi, Asahi Haikuist Network by The Asahi Shimbun, A hundred gourds, Shamrock, Chrysanthemum. Some are translated to Russian, French, English, Italian, Spanish and Croatian. Eamonn O'Neill is retired after working for thirty years with Aer Lingus, Ireland's national airline. He has travelled widely, both in America and Europe. While recovering from surgery he was introduced to the many facets of early Japanese poetry. Tanka has become his favorite style. Still a novice, these are his first Tanka poems accepted for publication. Elizabeth Howard lives in Crossville, Tennessee. Her tanka have been published in American Tanka, Lynx, Eucalypt, red lights, Mariposa, Ribbons, Gusts, and other journals. Ernesto P. Santiago is a Filipino who lives in Greece, where he enjoys exploring the poetic myth of his senses. Genie Nakano has an MFA in Dance from UCLA. She performs, choreographs dance and teaches Gentle Yoga, Meditation, and Tanoshii Tanka at the Japanese Cultural Center in Gardena, CA. She was a journalist for the Gardena Valley Newspaper before she discovered tanka and haibun and was hooked. gennepher began writing micropoetry on Twitter in 2010, and mostly writes haiku and tanka. She lives in North Wales, UK, with 3 cats and a Hearing Dog for Deaf People. Geoffrey Winch resides in Felpham, West Sussex, England. His poetry has appeared in numerous UKbased magazines over the years, and more recently in various US-based journals including Atlas Poetica 9 and 15. He is active in his local poetry scene where he
leads occasional workshops, currently promoting Contemporary Tanka and their kin forms. He is hopeful that his new collection Alchemy of Vision will be published before the end of 2014. Gerry Jacobson lives in Canberra, Australia. He was a geologist in a past life and wrote scientific papers. But nothing beats the thrill of having tanka published in Atlas Poetica. Gerry's tanka and tanka prose also appear currently in Ribbons, GUSTS and Haibun Today. Ivanka Kostantino writes prose and poetry; since 2006 haiku and tanka have been her favourite. Her haiku have been published in the Slovenian journal Apokalipsa, in two Croatian miscellanies, in the Romanian cultural journal Cronica, in the on-line journals Locutio, pesem.si and Slovenska tanka. Janet Lynn Davis lives in a rustic area north of Houston, Texas. Her work has been published in numerous online and print venues. Many of her poems can be found at her blog, twigs&stones, . Jeffrey Harpeng's most recent writing online is "Hope" and "Finding Hope" at Haibun Today and "And the Soil" at CHO. Jenny Ward Angyal lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in Gibsonville, NC, USA. She has written poetry since the age of five and tanka since 2008. Her tanka have appeared in at least eighteen of the short-form journals and may also be found online at her blog, The Grass Minstrel. Joanne Morcom is a social worker and poet who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She's a founding member of The Magpie Haiku & Tanka Poets, as well as Haiku Canada and Tanka Canada. For more information on her published poetry, including two poetry collections, please visit www.joannemorcom.ca. Joy McCall (Murasame) is 68 years old and has written poetry, mostly tanka, for 50 years. She lives on the edge of the old walled city of Norwich, UK. The poets she reads most often are Ryokan, Langston Hughes, M. Kei, Frances Cornford, TuFu, Sanford Goldstein, and Rumi. Kate Franks is grateful every day for the opportunity to teach middle school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Conversations with her students and the poetry of her mother, Joy McCall, inspire her to write when she can. She treasures the support and perspective of her wonderful companion, Paul.
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An 8-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has newest books are Lithic Scatter and Other Poems and Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems. Visit her Vagabond Poet blog at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. She resides in Kent, NY/ North Fort Myers, FL. Kath Abela Wilson is the creator and leader of Poets on Site in Pasadena, California. Closely related to poetry of place, this group performs on the sites of their common inspiration. She loves the vitality and experimental micropoetic qualities of Twitter (@kathabela) and publishes in many print and online journals, as well as anthologies by Poets on Site. LeRoy Gorman's poetry has appeared in print since 1976. Since 1996, he has been editor of Haiku Canada Newsletter 1996­2006, Haiku Canada Review beginning in 2007, annual anthologies, broadsides. In 1998, he began to publish poetry leaflets and postcards under his pawEpress imprint. Leslie Ihde lives in upstate New York with her husband and their golden retriever. She works as a psychotherapist and as an artist, writing poetry to mark moments of insight and gratitude. She is the editor of Inner Art Journal, an online journal devoted to using tanka writing as a practice for self-discovery. M. Kei is the editor of Atlas Poetica and editor-inchief of Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka. He is a tall ship sailor in real life and has published nautical novels featuring a gay protagonist, Pirates of the Narrow Seas. His recently published a collection of poetry, January, A Tanka Diary. Margaret Van Every resides in San Antonio Tlayacapan, a village on Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She is the author of a book of tanka entitled A Pillow Stuffed with Diamonds (Librophilia Press, 2010). Marilyn Humbert lives in the outer Northern suburbs of Sydney surrounded by bush. Her work appears in Eucalypt, Kokako, Moonbathing, Simply Haiku and Atlas Poetica. Marilyn Shoemake Hazelton is a poet and essayist in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is the editor and publisher of red lights, an international tanka journal. Matjaz Tevz Potocnik is an economist. He has been working in the charitable organisations over 20 years. Since 1989 he has published six books of lyrics; in the last few years he has also been writing haiku and tanka. His haiku have been published in the Slovenian journal Apokalipsa, in two Croatian
miscellanies, in the Romanian cultural journal Cronica, in the on-line journals Ardea and Slovenska tanka. Matsukaze discovered haiku and tanka 8 years ago. At that time haiku captured much of his attention so he solely focused on haiku. As of March 13th, he `re-discovered' tanka. After reconnecting with an old friend who is very much a tanka guru, he decided to focus solely on tanka since then. Matthew Caretti is influenced in equal parts by his study of German language and literature, by his Zen training in the East, and by the approach of the Beat writers. He currently teaches English and directs the Writing Center at a college preparatory school in Pennsylvania. Michael Dunwoody is a retired Canadian teacher from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with a fondness for poetic forms. His publications in various magazines include numerous sonnets. This is his first attempt to publish tanka poems. Fond of music and photography, his work likes to express a particular eye in sensuous language. His garden often serves as a favourite setting. Michael Dylan Welch founded the Tanka Society of America in 2000, and served as its president for five years. His haiku, tanka, and longer poetry have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, and in 2012 one of his waka translations appeared on the back of 150,000,000 United States postage stamps. Michael lives in Sammamish, Washington, and his personal website is graceguts.com. Nu Quang grew up in an ethnic Chinese society in Vietnam during the war and lived under the Communist rule after Saigon fell. Now a naturalized US citizen, she writes from her background consisting of three cultures. Her haiku, haibun, and tanka have been published in Notes from the Gean, A Hundred Gourds, The Heron's Nest, Haiku News, Multiverses, Moonbathing, Red Lights, Lynx. Nilufer Y. Mistry was born and brought up in Calcutta, India. She now resides in British Columbia, Canada, along with her family. She is an artist. She discovered micropoetry on Twitter in 2011 and is an avid member of this virtual community ever since @NiluferYM. Her micropoems usually reflect Nature but also document everyday-life. Pat Geyer lives in East Brunswick, NJ, USA. A photographer and nature lover, her Haiku and Tanka have appeared in Mijikai Haiku, Moonbathing and The Bamboo Hut.
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Patricia Prime has spent her working life as an early childhood teacher and now works part-time in this field. She is co-editor of Kokako, reviews/ interviews editor of Haibun Today and writes reviews for the NZ journal Takahe and for Atlas Poetica. Currently she is one of the guest editors for the World Haiku Anthology, edited by Dr. Bruce Ross. Paul Mercken, Belgian philosopher and medievalist (1934), former treasurer and/or secretary of the Haiku Kring Nederland. He likes participating in international renga by e-mail and is learning Chinese. Pravat Kumar Padhy hails from Odisha, India. He holds a Masters in Science and a Ph.D from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. His haiku, tanka and haibun have appeared in Lynx, The Notes from the Gean, Atlas Poetica, Simply Haiku, The Mainichi Daily News, Red lights, Shamrock, A Hundred Gourds, Chrysanthemum, Magnapoets, Bottle Rockets, Ribbons, Lilliput Review, etc. Radhey Shiam was born a citizen of India in 1922. He contributes haiku, tanka, articles and poems in English, Hindi and Urdu to Indian and foreign magazines. He published Song of Life and contributed to the First Hindi Haiku Anthology, India, 1989 and the First HayNaku Anthology, USA, 2005. Robert Annis is a Florida born Tampa resident who teaches at the University of South Florida. His work has been nominated for the 2013 and 2014 AWP Intro Journals Project. His poetry has appeared in Lingerpost, Lynx, Gusts, and Ribbons. Sergio Ortiz is a retired educator, poet, painter, and photographer. Flutter Press released his debut chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk, in October of 2009. Ronin Press released his second chapbook: topography of a desire, in May of 2010. He lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sonam Chhoki was born and raised in the eastern Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. She has been writing Japanese short forms of haiku, tanka and haibun for about 5 years. Her works have been published in poetry journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, Japan, UK and US and included in the Cultural Olympics 2012 Poetry Parnassus and BBC Radio Scotland Written Word programme. Steve Wilkinson is from County Durham, England and has been writing tanka, haiku, senryu and gogyoshi for several years. He has been published in various on-line and print editions of Japanese short form poetry journals. He now edits The Bamboo Hut
journal of contemporary English language tanka http:// thebamboohut.weebly.com/index.html Susan Burch resides in Hagerstown, MD, USA, with her husband, 2 kids, and warped sense of humor. She loves reading, doing puzzles, and Coca-Cola slurpees. Tim Lenton has been concentrating on his poetry since retiring early from journalism in 2002. He lives in Norwich, the city of his birth, with his wife and has an adult son and two grandchildren. Among his favourite poets are Eliot, Yeats, Rilke, Dylan Thomas and Leonard Cohen. He is a trustee of the Paston H e r i t a g e S o c i e t y. < w w w. b a c k 2 s q 1 . c o . u k , www.pastonheritage.co.uk> Tish Davis lives in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Modern Haibun and Tanka Prose, Atlas Poetica, Haibun Today, red lights, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Presence, bottle rockets, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Simply Haiku. Toki is a native of the Pacific Northwest and a writer of poetry, fiction, and occasional nonfiction, with works appearing online and in print. Toki likes listening to the music of the spheres, pondering the interstices of the universe and taking long walks in l i m i n a l s p a c e s. To fi n d o u t m o re, fo l l ow @tokidokizenzen on Twitter. Vasile Moldovan was born in a Transylvanian village on 20 June 1949. He was cofounder (1991) chairman of the Romanian Society of Haiku (2009). Vasile Moldovan published five haiku books--Via Dolorosa (1998), The moon's unseen face (2001), Noah's Ark (2003), Ikebana (2005) and On a summer day (2010). Also he published together with Magdalena Dale the renku book Fragrance of Lime. Yancy Carpentier is a student of the 18th & 19th centuries. Her interests include military and maritime history, and poetry of all flavors. The Mediterranean and the Ottoman Empire are her keenest attractions. She loves to read and garden. Yancy lives in the Deep South with her best friend/husband. Zoe Savina-Greece was born in Athens and writes haikus, tankas, minicuentos, short essays and critiques, awarded by international prizes, appearing in poetry journals. She is currently preparing a haiku book dedicated to Lafcadio Hearn. She is member of the National Association of Greek Writers, Coordinating Centre of Hellenism, World Haiku Association-Fujimi Saitama ­ Japan, and an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Haiku Association.
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Publications by Keibooks Edited by M. Kei This Short Life, Minimalist Tanka, by Sanford Goldstein Hedgerows : Tanka Pentaptychs, by Joy McCall circling smoke, scattered bones, by Joy McCall Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka (Vol.4) Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka Bright Stars, An Organic Tanka Anthology M. Kei's Poetry Collections January, A Tanka Diary Slow Motion : The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack tanka and short forms Heron Sea : Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay tanka and short forms M. Kei's Novels Pirates of the Narrow Seas 1 : The Sallee Rovers Pirates of the Narrow Seas 2 : Men of Honor Pirates of the Narrow Seas 3 : Iron Men Pirates of the Narrow Seas 4 : Heart of Oak Man in the Crescent Moon : A Pirates of the Narrow Seas Adventure The Sea Leopard : A Pirates of the Narrow Seas Adventure (forthcoming 2014) Fire Dragon A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 102
INDEX
Alenka Zorma, 40, 41 Alexander Jankiewicz, 7, 57 Alexis Rotella, 61 Amada Burgard, 49 Autumn Noelle Hall, 19, 52 Bernice Yap, 31 Brane Grgurovic, 40 Brian Zimmer, 10, 32 C. William Hinderliter, 55 Carole Harrison, 20 Carole Johnston, 30 Charles Tarlton, 36, 37, 63 Chen-ou Liu, 38 Christina Nguyen, 46 Claire Everett, 19 Constantine Fourakis, 60 Debbie Johnson, 46 Debbie Strange, 16, 17, Deborah P. Kolodji, 57 Diana Teneva, 42 Eamonn O'Neill, 62 Elizabeth Howard, 42 Ernesto P. Santiago, 59 Genie Nakano, 17, 34 gennepher, 53 Geoffrey Winch, 34, 60 Gerry Jacobson, 35, 50 Ivanka Kostantino, 41 Janet Lynn Davis, 57 Joanne Morcom, 54 Jeffrey Harpeng, 71 Jenny Ward Angyal, 35, 54 Joy McCall, 9, 11, 15, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 51, 73 Karla Linn Merrifield, 46
Kath Abela Wilson, 10, 44 Kate Franks, 15 LeRoy Gorman, 47 Leslie Ihde, 14 M. Kei, 5, 8, 77 Margaret Van Every, 43 Marilyn Humbert, 32, 33 Marilyn Shoemaker Hazelton, 17 Matjaz Tevz Potocnik, 40 Matsukaze, 28, 29, 30, 56, 74 Matthew Caretti, 47 Michael Dunwoody, 22 Michael Dylan Welch, 61 Murasame, 28, 29, 30 Natsuko Wilson, 18, 53 Nilufer Y. Mistry, 53 Nu Quang, 50 Pat Geyer, 61 Patricia Prime, 46, 69 Paul Mercken, 49 Pravat Kumar Padhy, 55 Radhey Shiam, 48 Robert Annis, 58 Sergio Ortiz, 12, 31 Sonam Chhoki, 12, 23 Steve Wilkinson, 73 Susan Burch, 51 Tim Lenton, 26, 27 Tish Davis, 7, 49 Toki, 45 Vasile Moldovan, 44 Zoe Savina, 60
Our `butterfly' is actually an Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the largest butterfly/moth in the world. It comes from the tropical regions of Asia. Image from the 1921 Les insectes agricoles d'йpoque. A t l a s P o e t i c a · I s s u e 1 8 · P a g e 103

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