hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury
Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!
poet of the month: Rebecca Drouilhet
Biography: Rebecca Drouilhet is a retired registered nurse, author of two books, winner of numerous contest and awards. Her work has appeared in a vast majority of the top haiku and tanka journals. She lives an hour from New Orleans, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg, MS, a culturally rich gumbo of Deep South Culture and cuisine. Playing with her large family and enjoying music and art occupy her days. She is currently a haiku moderator on Inkstone Poetry Forum.
Rebecca, thank you very much for taking the time to respond to our questions. Our readers will gain so much from your experiences. We look forward to reading your comments on the submissions here.
TTH: Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish tanka? As an editor what are you looking for in a tanka that makes it most likely to get published?
The most valuable advice I can give an aspiring tanka writer is to learn to listen to that still small voice that urges you to choose one word and not another, the voice that says, “Let’s take a risk and do something truly innovative”, the voice that chides you when the work needs more revision and the voice that most reflects your own inner guidance and truth about what is good and right in your poetry. Keep your ego out of it, and let the work be about itself. Seek the advice of others, but if you believe strongly in your own intuition, the work often falls into place by itself.
And, in addition to the inner voice, I would urge new writers to experiment with different styles to find their own poetic voice, for while the form of tanka is familiar to many, its exposition is like the blooming of flowers, each blossom unique and rich. Only you can write your own brand of tanka. And don’t forget to keep a beginner’s mind, learning and growing daily in your poetic journey.
Read a lot of tanka written by others. I would recommend Beth Wakan’s The Way of Tanka, for while she misses a few academic points in her book, the example poems are brimming with the haiku spirit and the dreaming room that make this intuitive poetry so much fun.
Here is a tanka and a beautiful tanka prose from Rebecca for us to enjoy.
he flies too close to the sun…
beneath the shadows
of disappearing wings
the sea, the churning sea
*Publication credits: Undertow, issue #6, 2015
Legend has it that despite his father's warnings Icarus flew too close to the sun, which melted his wings which were made of wax. He fell into the sea and died. This powerful tanka uses this legend to speak of someone who aimed too high ... The chilling last lines suggest great turbulence. What happened? Where did it happen? This is all left to the reader to imagine.
The Fine Line
Perhaps it's true that opposites attract. He was so logical he could solve a Chinese tavern puzzle in 0.02 of a second. She was a creative genius without a practical bone in her body.
It started out innocently enough. She bought a pair of wooden artists' mannequins about a foot tall and posed them in a loving embrace. Later that evening, the argument began, a silly argument that escalated as the evening wore on. She went to the bathroom in the middle of it and when she came back, the male mannequin had his back to the female, his arms angrily crossed.
With a few flips of the wrist, she posed the female mannequin with her back to the male, her arms angrily crossed.
yin and yang,
parts of each other...
will the moon rise
on an age-old battle
or bathe us in forgiveness
Published in Ribbons, Fall, 2019
This tanka prose speaks to the age old adage that opposites attract. A disagreement that isn't explicitly stated.
And yet, the symbolism in rearranging the two mannequins speaks, at least to me, that there is a common ground of understanding. Yin and yang cannot exist separately in nature. There is yin within yang and yang within yin, a continuous, dynamic transformation. Is this, then, the nature of every relationship?
Challenge for this week: Use a legend, or a universally known symbol to construct your tanka or tanka prose... And feel free to post a link to the legend if you think your reader might not have heard of it.
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 these themes too.
An essay on how to write tanka: Tanka Flights
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.