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TANKA TAKE HOME: 28 June 2023 Sonam Chhoki: Featured Poet of the Month

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

It is our pleasure to feature well known haijin and poet Sonam Chokki this month. Welcome Sonam! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope you will visit us and share your comments and insights on the poems that will be posted.

6. TTH: Do you show your work in progress to anyone, or is it a solitary art that you keep close to your chest before letting it go for publishing?

SC: I smiled at this question. The “work in progress” is often scribblings on tissues, napkins in a café, shopping lists or receipts. Inevitably as the scribblings are illegible the image or idea l had at a particular moment is lost. It is definitely solitary. Whatever survives goes through several revisions to become a publishable tanka. During this process the poem doesn’t merit being shown to anyone.

Here is a tanka sequence and a tanka prose from Sonam.

Unfinished Dreams

in abandoned fields

an ultramarine door

un-warped, un-wormed

its sheen strong under

an iced January sky

battened mud walls

seep odors of space

enfolding voices

silenced in mute oneness

with the cataract-eye sun

the wind plays

with wrecks of unfinished dreams

what use is prayer

when the gods only speak

through the snake-mouth moon

another dawn

flings itself across the hills . . .

a headless monk

rides a black stallion

into the penumbra of sorrow

cattails Summer 2013

Impulsion of Life

First night home from hospital. It is as if I have woken from another world. Sleep seems a waste. The spring full moon rises in a membrane of incandescent clouds. It is lighter outside the house. I put on my coat and walk to the orchard. Against still bare apple trees the plum blossoms are a haze of white. Old prayer flag poles stipple the frost-covered grass. A stirring of wings in the dark interstices of the bamboos. Bats flit in patches of shadow.

I look back at the house. The door is in half-light. Frost on the roof tiles catches the light of the moon. The chimney points a dark finger as if searching for wan stars.

A motorbike revs. Its roar shatters the quiet of the valley.

what can it mean

this wakeful longing

to belly the ground

for the dew’s eye view

of rival stars

Atlas Poetica Number 23, 2015

Rather than commenting on the individual pieces I would like to draw attention to the sheet lyricism of Sonam's work. She uses words that glow, images that are on the edge of dreams and yet she manages to paint very clear pictures in the mind's eye.

Finally we would like to take this opportunity to thank Sonam for engaging with us here even when she had trouble accessing the site. She had a friend email her the poems, she would send her extensive and thoughtful comments to my email (SR) and ask me to post them here. That's commitment! It's been a pleasure working with her.

This week's challenge: Write about your creative process. Not just poetry, but anything creative- the world is yours! Write a tanka or a tanka prose. Tanka off-prompt are welcome too. No tanka sequence, even though we have featured one by Sonam.

An essay on how to write tanka: here


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, too.

3. Share your best-polished pieces. 4. We are not looking at SEQUENCES NOW, of any length.

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

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

7. 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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