hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury
Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!
poet of the month: Autumn Noelle Hall
Winnie the Pooh . . . a willingness to bear
stings for honey all the been-there-thens
lead to being here now
what is free will when the future is known? to wade in the surf with children on our shoulders—
to gather shells anyway
(All tanka excerpted (in order of appearance) from Tanka Quartets, a collaborative collection co-authored with David C. Rice, available here)
We had the pleasure of asking Autumn Noelle Hall a few questions, and she graciously took the time to answer them.
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.
Autumn: Ooooo, this question always feels like a trap—no matter who or how many I name, I’m sure to leave someone wonderful out! So I’ll come at it in typical mom fashion, and say ALL tanka poets are my favorite. Not because I love every poem or revere every poet, but because tanka poets view and relate to the world in ways that are so much more profound and insightful than ordinary, everyday people. Tanka poets see details, grasp nuance, seek understanding, and make meaning. Tanka poets care deeply, move mindfully, engage thoughtfully and express artlessly. Tanka poets live tanka lives, and those lives are almost always connected, committed, activist and aware. Tanka poets get it, and I love them for that.
As for poetry, I’ll read just about any genre (although I am not always a fan of slam or spoken word poetry, primarily because performance poets can rely on body language, facial expression and voice to prop up a poem that might otherwise fall flat on the page). But then, I am a compulsive reader— Call it my Field of Dreaming Room—“If you write it, I will read…”.Seriously, I’ll read the DO NOT EAT label on a silica packet. I am currently reading the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Ribbons (of course) and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. I would highly recommend both! Two of the most powerful books I’ve read recently, David Hinton’s Hunger Mountain and Bright Green Lies by Derek Jensen, Lierre Keith and Max Wilbert, continue to astonish and inspire me.Taken together with Braiding Sweetgrass, they form a sort of eco-triptych, depicting best and worst ways of being with the Earth. And I cannot possibly say enough about The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, a gorgeous and jaw-dropping illustrated book of poems written around words which were omitted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary—“acorn,” “heron,” and “fern” among them. My copy is displayed in the living room on a wrought-iron book stand that my husband found at the thrift shop, where it reminds us to keep these precious words—and their namesakes—alive.
More about Autumn:
For over a decade, Colorado writer Autumn Noelle Hall’s short form poetry has appeared internationally in distinguished literary journals and anthologies, garnering her a reputation for self-aware autobiography, unsparing socio-political commentary, and environmental activism. Living and writing in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, she draws on her natural surroundings and daily interactions with the native flora and fauna—columbine, ponderosa pine, black bears, and mountain lions have all found their way into her poems. From 2016-2018, Hall served as the inaugural Tanka Prose Editor for the Tanka Society of America’s print journal, Ribbons. In 2019, Atlas Poetica published her Special Feature, Turn the Other Cheek: Nonviolent Resistance and Peaceful Protest Tanka. In 2020, her tanka observing the global Covid crisis won first place in Japan’s Fujisan Taisho competition. Her collaborative book, Tanka Quartets, co-authored with long-time Ribbons Editor, David C. Rice, debuted in August of 2020. In 2021, she was honored to serve as co-judge with Don Miller for the annual Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest. Hall currently serves as editor of Ribbons’ Tanka Studio, a member-only-feature following in the 20-year-long tradition of Michael McClintock’s Tanka Cafe, where she places the highest value on authentic, inventive, empowering work.
Challenge for this week:
Autumn's tanka bring back memories of childhood (mine as well as the kids). I have my kids' full set of Winnie the Pooh characters sitting on my bookshelf, grinning. This week's challenge is to write about childhood memories; from cartoon characters to beach combing to riding shoulders to paper boats...wherever the words take you. Most of all have fun!
And remember – tanka, because of those two extra lines, lends itself most beautifully when revealing a story.
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
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.