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TANKA TAKE HOME - 18 May, 2022 | poet of the month - Jenny Ward Angyal

hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Jenny Ward Angyal

redbud blossoms

on a broken branch—

the creek

that drains the clearcut

runs also in my veins

~First Place, Mandy’s Pages

Climate Change: The Burning Issue’ Contest2020

Jenny has been a very close friend of mine for the last several years. She is an exceptional poet, mentor and editor. We'll be showcasing and focusing on her tanka this month and I'm sure we'll learn a lot if we study the way she uses words and images to craft her poems.

We had the pleasure of asking Jenny a few questions, and she graciously took the time to answer them. Here is the fourth:


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.

The beauty of tanka is that its five short lines can do so many different things. For such a short form, it is remarkably flexible, and there are very many fine contemporary practitioners, each one writing out of his or her own vision. So I’m not sure it’s meaningful to pick ‘favourites.’

After I discovered tanka about fourteen years ago, I soon transitioned to writing this form almost exclusively. I don’t yet feel that I have exhausted the possibilities of tanka, although I do also write some haiku. I am currently most interested in expanding the reach of tanka by using them in longer works: tanka-prose and tanka sets or sequences. Combining tanka with prose allows me to explore ideas and stories that don’t lend themselves well to poetry, while the embedded tanka provide a reflective counterpoint. When combined in sets or sequences, tanka exhibit a surprising synergy, and the whole emerges as more than the sum of its parts. Both strategies provide scope to explore themes larger than five lines alone can handle.

To tell you about the books I’ve enjoyed would take months. Or decades. I have too many books. So I will pick, almost at random, three recent reads that I have found meaningful. The Language of Loss, by Debbie Strange, for showing with poignancy and grace how tanka and haiku can talk to each other. The Horizon Waits, by Larry Kimmel, for exploring—mostly through cherita--what it means to be (like me) ‘an old poet / leaking into eternity.’ And Hedgerows, by Joy McCall, for inspiring me to try my hand at deliberately writing tanka in sets of five.

More about Jenny:

Jenny Ward Angyal spent her childhood wandering the woods and fields of rural Connecticut, where she attended a one-room schoolhouse. She spent a number of years studying and writing about biology, and many more teaching nonverbal children how to communicate.

She now lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in central North Carolina. She has two sons and three grandchildren. She composed her first poem at the age of five and has written tanka since 2008. Her tanka (and occasionally haiku) have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She is the author of two tanka collections, Moonlight on Water and Only the Dance, and co-author of Beetles & Stars: Tanka Triptychs. She co-edited the Tanka Society of America’s 2016 Members’ Anthology, Ripples in the Sand, and served for over five years as Reviews and Features Editor of Skylark: A Tanka Journal. She currently serves as Tanka Editor of Under the Bashō and Global Moderator of Inkstone Poetry Forum.


Are you inspired?

Challenge for this week: Shall we try: "Climate Change: The Burning Issue" Give this theme some thought and share it with us here.

Did you notice how Jenny has brought the concept of 'oneness' into her tanka?

You can post tanka and tanka-prose outside this theme too!

PLEASE NOTE: 1. Only two tanka and two tanka-prose per poet per prompt. Tanka art of course if you want to. 2. Share your best-polished pieces. 3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while. 4. Post your final edited version on top of your original verse. 5. 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 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in haikuKATHA monthly magazine.


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