hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury
Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!
featured editor: Priti Aisola December 6, 2023
This month we decided to go with the theme "Know Your Editors": The people responsible for your poems being published. We hope you enjoy their poems and a little about them and their 'tanka journey'. This week we have Priti Aisola. She's a gentle soul; soft spoken and graceful, and so talented. I'm sure you've benefitted from her feedback on your poems. Here's her "Tanka Journey" in her own words followed by some of her poems she likes:
Priti: During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kala Ramesh introduced me to haikai literature. Intensive online workshops on haiku and haibun deepened my interest in these forms. Kala’s style of teaching was so lively and engaging that when she mentioned tanka as another genre of Japanese short-form poetry, I was curious to know more about it and enthused to explore it. However, for an unschooled beginner like me, writing tanka proved to be quite a challenge; I would write five-line free verse sprinkled with adjectives and abstract observations and then wonder why these didn’t qualify as tanka. Initially, I read Kala’s tanka and Jenny Ward Angyal’s; the beauty and depth of their tanka further strengthened my desire to learn this form of poetry. Soon some of us (fellow poets) appealed to Kala to conduct a tanka workshop online and that proved to be a huge learning experience and an eye-opener for many of us. As we wrote and re-worked our poems again and again and also gave feedback on each other’s poems, we gradually began to understand this deceptively simple, yet attractively complex, form a little better.
I am deeply grateful to Kala Ramesh for being a very encouraging and gracious mentor. Pamela A. Babusci was also one of my earliest teachers. Later, Susan Burch stepped in occasionally to guide me in her unique succinct way. My warmest thanks to each of them.
My ‘tanka’ journey has begun and I hope I prove to be a patient wayfarer, open and receptive to each guide and avenue for learning.
this lineup of chores …
before each rose in bloom
and those about to wilt
haikuKATHA, Issue 3, January 2022
with the frayed end
of a rope -
what bound us snapped
the day we lost our child
haikuKATHA, Issue 5, March 2022
a falling star’s
trail of transient light
can I play
my part each day
cattails, December 2022
this train journey
to see a river -
all those years
I did not walk by the Mekong,
a stone's throw from home
haikuKATHA, Issue 12, 2022
father’s last days
in an ashram far away …
would your death
be more real had I
seen you being cremated
Café Haiku anthology on “Relationships”, 2021
between my palms
a crumbled dry leaf …
spectres of all those hurts
i never intended
Ribbons, Winter Issue 2022
all those books
they have spines and
each other to lean on
Muse India, Special haiku Issue, August 2023
the silence you and i
did not wish for —
even the leaky tap
is suddenly quiet
haikuKATHA, Issue 22, August 2023
A Broken Circle
After a walk in the city centre, they pause before a shop window.
‘A teashop with a range of fruit, herb, and black teas! Shall we take a look?’ she asks, excited.
‘Not interested,’ says he and looks away.
of the setting sun …
if only we could stay
in the soft light of moments
that once held us together
cattails, April 2023 Issue
Paint Everyone with the Same Brush
Two young men, who assist the main carpenter, are replacing our wire mesh windows. They are slow but skillful. I am seeing the younger of the two for the first time. After working for some time, he asks me for some warm water with salt in it. ‘Half a teaspoon,’ he says in Hindi.
‘I will give you some warm water to drink. Why do you want salt in it?’
‘I have come from Bihar recently. Change of water … air … my throat is burning.’
‘You don’t drink salt water. It is used for gargling.’ He looks at me wearily. I give him some warm water and also give him two tiny black Ayurvedic pills to soothe his throat. I explain, ‘This is not angrezi dava (allopathic medicine). It has licorice, cloves, long pepper, cardamom and some other ingredients.’
We converse in Hindi. I make tea with ginger, holy basil and cardamom for both of them. I give the younger man a second dose of the same pills. After the day’s work is over, when he is leaving, I ask him if he would like to take the small bottle of desi medicine with him.
‘Yes. My throat feels much better.’ As I hand over the bottle to him, he asks, ‘Is this homeopathic medicine?’
‘No, it is herbal … Ayurvedic.’
He reads the English label on the bottle with ease, ‘Kanthil. I know Ayurveda.’
Barely concealing my surprise, I mumble, ‘That is good.’ He smiles. I am ashamed of myself for assuming that he was uneducated like the other helpers of our carpenter.
woven nest …
I drop stitches and
blame it on the needles
cho, April issue 2021
Important: Since we're swamped with submissions, and our editors are only human, mistakes can happen. Please, please, remember to put your name, followed by your country, below each poem, even after revisions. It really helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!
Please also, in case of tanka-art, tell us if it's your own picture or someone else's. We will be unable to accept it otherwise.
The challenge for this week:
Priti is quite shy of talking about herself so we only got a glimpse of her tanka journey. But we do get to know her through her lovely poems – and what a feast! Her gentle nature shines through. Priti is not just a poet but a painter as well and I'm in awe of her talent both with the pen and brush. She keenly observes and feels and is quite adept at putting those emotions into words. Her approach is quiet and deep which leaves the reader immersed in those emotions long after they've read her poems. What do you think? I would love to know. This week write about 'Relationships'; interpret it as you like. You may write outside the prompt too. Mostly, have fun!
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 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 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.