Updated: Apr 5
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.
April 5, 2023
1. TTH: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?
My father, scarred though he was by poverty and the Great Depression, put himself through college and seminary. He loved to read poetry to me as a child, and though he could be something of a nightmare he shared with me his deep love of literature, poetry, music and science, loves I have today as a result of his difficult but rich legacy.
My mother, who taught intellectually gifted elementary children, introduced me, through their curriculum, to haiku, fueling what would for me, be a lifelong interest in and love for Japanese literature and poetry.
As a child, I loved Dickens, the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, classics like The Velveteen Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and others. I also had an affinity for the ocean and enjoyed adventure books about the sea like Two Years Before the Mast and the Captain Horatio Hornblower books.
I wrote a poem in fifth grade that impressed my teacher who took it to the school paper and had it published. In junior high, I sometimes wrote stories to make my classmates laugh, although I never had serious ambitions about being a writer.
2. TTH: How did you get started as a poet? What was it about tanka that inspired you to embrace this ancient form of poetry? In short, why do you keep writing tanka.
I wrote a little free verse as a young adult. A stint at USM introduced me to my love of writing. However, the real impetus for me to write poetry came from the rich cultural offerings at Barnes and Noble in Eden Prairie, wonderful books of haiku that reawakened in me my love of haiku. Later, that interest expanded into tanka, and while haiku is my first love, it was in tanka that I truly found myself as a poet. I write tanka for one reason only: to try and create beautiful writing that will stand the test of time, my inspiration being the ancient Japanese manuscripts that are still so fresh and lovely today.
a cosmic wind
blowing me beyond
one day I’ll lose everything
but everything I love
Ribbons, Fall 2020, Vol.16, No.3
This beautiful tanka is part sci-fi, part raw emotion, and creates the feeling of truly Universal love and loss when put together. Those last two lines-
'one day I'll lose everything
but everything I love'
are brilliant in their ambiguity. Ponder them, dear reader, and see where this tanka takes you.
caught in a diamond…
the part of me
there’s something more
Ribbons, Winter 2021
Who hasn't felt this restlessness, this absolute knowing, that there's something more. The beauty here is how the poet has captured that feeling in the brilliance of the sunlight caught in a diamond, giving off sparkles from its many facets.
Challenge for this week:
Drawing inspiration from these tanka try writing one that combines a cosmic idea with a personal element.
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.