Updated: Sep 10
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
entanglement the small talk of particles . . .
sticks and stones flesh and bone—all star stuff
all in communion
each caesura in the owls’ elegy a pause to reflect on the wisdom
(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.
Q2: 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.
Autumn: I have a digital copy of a reel-to-reel tape my mom recorded of me singing Puff the Magic Dragon when I was two. Tanka means “short song,” which to me implies that music—at least the kind with words—is essentially pitched poetry. But if you mean page poetry, that Book of Fun and Nonsense I mentioned had me parodying the limerick early on—you know, that long/long/short/short/long five-line poem? Ha! I remember learning about haiku in 5th grade—I liked that it had 17 syllables (another ha!), as 17 was my birthdate and favorite number. In high school, I endeavored, unabashed, to write in the style of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and my favorite, Edgar Allen Poe. One poem I wrote about snow followed the rhythm and rhyme scheme Poe uses in The Bells. Mimicking poets I admired taught me more about writing—and life—than any classroom curriculum. I didn’t discover tanka until I was about 40, and I came to it only circuitously through haibun. But it was definitely love at first sight. After writing free verse poetry for years, the confinement of tanka presented precisely the challenge and discipline I needed. The ability of tanka to simultaneously paint a picture and tell a story, all while capturing and holding emotional content makes it a powerhouse of a poem. As a seasoned cook, I would put forth that writing tanka is much like creating a rich reduction—it is the Bordelaise of poetry. I find that deliciously addictive.
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. Both exquisite; I especially liked the one about forgiveness. How about we write about forgiveness this week?
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 PLEASE NOTE 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.