Updated: Mar 31
hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury
Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!
poet of the month: Susan Weaver
Nestled atop Monte Barbaro, the amphitheater's weathered curves are startlingly white in afternoon sun. Joe and I mount the limestone steps: a quiet panorama of wildflower meadows, fields, and wooded hills; a rural isolation almost magic. In the near distance, a temple, remnant of ancient Segesta, which once peopled this Sicilian hilltop.
Descending the steps, we hear far-off bells. A meditative tinkling, building at a brisk walking pace. Dozens of goats appear, bleating softly, on the brow of the hill. They circle the theater and turn downhill, their buoyant chorus following them home after a day at pasture.
Joe and I exchange glances and follow. Eventually, we spy the pens, and goats filing in. We are full of questions, which Joe asks in beginner Italian.
of a Doric temple
the goatherd squeezes
milk warm from the teat
into a glass for me
Valley Voices: A Literary Review, Spring 2021
Our warmest thanks to Susan for sharing her lovely tanka, tanka-prose, and for her thoughtful responses to our questions.
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?
SW: For me, a writers' group is very helpful. Unless a deadline prevents it, I almost always have work critiqued before submitting it for publication. I've been in my current group for more than twenty years; we meet monthly. At present, all five members are published tanka poets, so, in addition to encouragement and support, I can trust the group to let me know where my writing needs more clarity. After all, suggesting an incident and an emotional response in a five-line poem is challenging. So it's not unusual for me to take a group of tanka to the meeting and be told that this or that tanka really needs to be tanka prose. I've written some of my most successful tanka prose after that sort of prompting – including the “Hospitality” piece included among my favorites.
Biography: Susan Weaver became editor of Ribbons (journal of the Tanka Society of America) in 2021, after serving three years as tanka prose editor. She is a former feature writer and editor with special interests in cycling and active travel. Her eight years of staff experience at Bicycling magazine, where she became managing editor, were bookended with periods of freelancing. Between assignments, she taught as a poet in the schools, worked weekends at a shelter for victims of domestic violence, and explored local back roads on her bicycle. She also enjoyed bike travel in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. and wrote about it for Adventure Cyclist and other magazines. Much later, she discovered tanka and tanka prose. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her artist/writer husband and two cats.
Challenge for this week: This piece of tanka-prose combines the lofty with the homely; it takes the reader along beautifully as the narrator creates the scene and mood with a fine eye for detail. Written with a sensitive and sure touch, this tanka-prose is lovely piece of writing.
We invite you to attempt tanka-prose based on a certain journey, or a place you enjoyed visiting. Tanka is also welcome.
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.