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
one pine needle floating in the bird bath
true north winter’s silent summons
to the part of me that flies
to know why a raven is like a writing desk an odd gift this quill connecting dots
between those thoughts
(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: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?
Autumn: I was very fortunate, in that my parents were both college educated and avid readers. My siblings and I all had library cards by the time we were in kindergarten, and we used to ride the public bus downtown together during our summer breaks to participate in the children’s reading programs. My father read us books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit as bedtime stories. I was an early reader—ahead of my peers—and because of that, I had trouble at school; classmates found me weird and teachers didn’t know what to do with me. When I came home from first grade crying about how stupid Fun with Dick and Jane was, my mother empathized and my father, who was in law school at the time, brought me a copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m sure I didn’t grasp all its social implications, but I did see how much my father and I were like Atticus and Scout; it remains a favorite book to this day. Other childhood favorites included E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (which I read every spring until I graduated from High School), Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain, and a kooky poetry collection called The Book of Fun and Nonsense (which featured insane illustrations and works by Lewis Carol, Edward Lear, Heinrich Hoffman and other greats). Because I loved reading so much, I wrote as a child, often illustrating my own “books”. My mother also taught me to correspond by age 5 or 6, as we lived far away from extended family. I gave my parents a poem scroll tied in a red ribbon as a Christmas gift one year, and they cried when they read what I’d written. That made a tremendous impression on me.
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:
Such gorgeous tanka by Autumn Hall. In one she’s alluded to the famous riddle by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” (Even the mad hatter didn’t know the answer) If you google you will find so many witty answers to that one. I guess Autumn went with “Because both have quills on them”. And she has woven it into her tanka so beautifully. So, here’s your challenge: Use a well-known literary reference in your poem. preferably something easily identifiable.
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.
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.