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TANKA TAKE HOME - 11th Jan, 2023 | poet of the month - Debbie Strange

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Debbie Strange


11th January


Debbie Strange/Tanka


a smudge

of blackbirds swirling

into evening . . .

how fluid the shape

of this sorrow

(2nd Place, 2018 Fleeting Words Tanka Competition)


as if I were

this ash-filled burl,

black veins

of decay winding through

my body like a river

(Commended, 2020 The Burning Issue Tanka Contest)


Our warmest thanks to Debbie Strange for creating time to respond to our questions.


Q 3:

TTH: How do you develop a tanka? Please guide us through the stages of a poem.


DS: I have been journaling for decades about my wilderness experiences, so I have an abundance of material on which to draw. I keep a collection of interesting words and topics for inspiration, and I am never without a notebook to jot down fleeting thoughts. Even if the muse does not come calling, I sit down at my desk, and write something every day.

Once I have formulated the basic idea for a tanka, I begin rearranging the words and lines until my voice emerges in the final piece. This may take weeks, months, and even in some cases, years! Since tanka is a short song, I refine the musicality of the poem by singing/chanting the composition aloud while accompanying myself on guitar.

Creating tanka art and haiga is a vital part of my daily practice. I especially enjoy the relative freedom that comes with making tanka art, as it is an evolving form and the guidelines are much more flexible!


Q 4:

TTH: Who are your favourite tanka poets? In addition to tanka what other genres of poetry do you write or read? Tell us about some of the books you've enjoyed.


DS: I have too many “favourite” tanka poets to mention. After all, it’s really about the poems themselves, so my answer changes depending on what I am reading at any given moment! Tanka poets are open to exposing their emotions and vulnerabilities to the world, and this makes them all very special indeed.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following gifted tanka writers who generously provided blurbs and in-depth reviews of my books: ai li, Alexis Rotella, Angela Leuck, an’ya, Caroline Skanne, David Terelinck, Denis Garrison, Jenny Ward Angyal, Kenneth Slaughter, Maxianne Berger, Michelle Brock, Patricia Prime, and Sonam Chhoki.

I am fully committed to writing Japanese short-forms in English. Since my vision became compromised, I find small poems much easier to navigate than longer forms.

I subscribe to leading tanka-specific publications, such as Eucalypt, GUSTS, Moonbathing, Red Lights, and Ribbons. This has been instrumental in alerting me to writers I might not otherwise have discovered. Reading anthologies is an excellent way to familiarize oneself with different styles of tanka. M. Kei has edited several important series: Bright Stars, Fire Pearls, Neon Graffiti, Stacking Stones, and Take 5. Red Moon Press has also published tanka anthologies of note.


Bio: Debbie Strange (Manitoba, Canada) is a chronically ill poet/artist whose creative passions connect her more closely to others, to the world, and to herself. Thousands of her poems and artworks can be accessed via her publication archive at: https://debbiemstrange.blogspot.com/


Challenge for this week:

The first tanka opens with a striking image of ‘a smudge/of blackbirds swirling/into evening …’ The sight of the birds silently whirling into fading light makes the narrator articulate this perception: ‘how fluid the shape/of this sorrow’. Each of us knows that profound sorrow has a way of coming back in waves to overwhelm certain moments of one’s life.


In this lovely tanka each word is used with care and has its rightful place. Also, the repetition of the ‘s’ sound makes it flow with mellifluous ease.


Write about grief and what follows. Use sibilance in your tanka to make it fluid and musical.


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And remember – tanka, because of those two extra lines, lends itself most beautifully when revealing a story. And tanka prose is storytelling.

Give these ideas some thought and share your tanka and tanka-prose with us here. Keep your senses open, observe things that happen around you and write. You can post tanka and tanka-prose outside this theme too.

An essay on how to write tanka: Tanka Flights


PLEASE NOTE

1. Post only one poem at a time, only one per day.

2. Only 2 tanka and two tanka-prose per poet per prompt.

Tanka art of course if you want to.

3. Share your best-polished pieces.

4. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.

5. Post your final edited version on top of your original verse.

6. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.


We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished tanka and tanka-prose (within 250 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly magazine.

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328 Comments


Nani  Mariani
Nani Mariani
Jan 24, 2023

kite broke

the red one wins

kids jumping around

blowing soap bubbles

nature is getting brighter


feedback please 🙏

Like

Debbie Strange
Debbie Strange
Jan 18, 2023

Thank you for sharing your work, and for your warm appreciations during Week 2 of our tanka journey. I'm now heading over to Week 3, and as ever, I'm looking forward to accompanying you along this tanka path!

Like
Debbie Strange
Debbie Strange
Jan 20, 2023
Replying to

I'm honoured to be here!

Like

lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
Jan 17, 2023

#1, revised as suggested by Debbie. Thanks so much to Priti too. 18-1-2023

.



original

.

tanka art, feedback welcome

.

every time i try

to hug you tight

for a minute

you slip away into the folds

of the stretched sky

.



Like
Priti Aisola
Priti Aisola
Jan 18, 2023
Replying to

The revised version reads beautifully!

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Bryan Rickert
Bryan Rickert
Jan 16, 2023

#1


revised (with thanks to Debbie!)


folding

the last pair of socks

you wore—

all these little things

making me cry


original:


folding

the last pair of socks

you ever wore–

all the little things

making me cry


feedback always welcome

Like
Debbie Strange
Debbie Strange
Jan 18, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your appreciation!

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Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak
Jan 16, 2023

Revision :Thank you a lot Priti and Reid for your excellent suggestions. So much appreciated ❣️ revised : floating flowers -- ashes dissolve in a river of no return, vivid memories come in waves Original version : ashes dissolve into floating flowers in a river of no return vivid memories come in waves barbara olmtak I wrote this tanka, last year, with the sudden passing of my beloved brother-in -law. Devastating. His ashes were scattered in the Suriname river at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak
Jan 18, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much Reid for your condolences and reciprocal. So sorry to hear about your loss. Once again a reminder how vulnerable life is. Thank you as well Reid for your feedback which I appreciate very much just like Priti's. I love to start with the floating flowers which she has suggested. Thank you all the same for thinking with me. Warm regards, barbara

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