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TANKA TAKE HOME: 7th February, 2024 David Rice - poet of the month

Updated: Feb 10

hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!


February 7, 2024


poet of the month: David Rice


Bio note:


David Rice has been writing tanka for about thirty-five years and continues to write a tanka most days.


He was the editor of the Tanka Society of America's journal, Ribbons, from 2012-2019. His poems have appeared in many tanka journals and anthologies, and he has written seven tanka books, including three with other poets (Cheri Hunter Day, Autumn Noelle Hall, and Lynne Leach.) He is donating all the proceeds from his latest book, Sequelae (2023), tanka prose, to the Climate Emergency Fund.


TTH: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?


I did not write as a child. My father edited television scripts and wrote a few short stories. I remember reading The Count of Monte Christo on a bus ride home from junior high school, because I wanted to know what happened next.


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 started writing free verse poetry when I was in graduate school. They weren't very good. Many years of schooling had taught me how to think, but not how to connect with my inner world. I found haiku in the mid-1980s. It helped me focus on what I observed, rather than thinking too much about what I observed, but I wasn't much good at haiku either; still too much in my head. I found tanka in the late 1980s, and it was a good fit for me. Five lines instead of three gave me enough room to connect images with my feelings and not too much room to overthink.


We are deeply grateful to David for sharing his beautiful work and thoughts with us, and look forward to a month of reading his poetry.


1.

spring walk

with the rocky gurgle

of a mountain stream—

when it went underground

I missed you


Woodnotes, Winter 1993, Number 19


2.

Attention, Please


The spiritual teachers tell me to let go of the outcome, since I know I'm going to die. Be present.


the fragrant iris

is blooming in our garden

again

I go out

just to inhale


But since the future for us as a species, and lots of other species, is unimaginable loss, given our unsustainable growth-is-good system, it's hard for me to let go of that outcome and just be present.


my granddaughter's growing

—vegetables, too—

and learning earth science

if only she could plant

some magic beans


Our teachers now are flowers, climatologists, and hospice workers. They tell me to pay attention as we plummet.


those swallows long ago

fluttering over the gravel road

where a car killed

one of their swoop

now I see they were us


from Sequelae: tanka prose (2022)

Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3


These eloquent poems, published 17 years apart, are a wonderful example of a melding of nature and human emotion. The first tanka begins with the description of a spring's journey. And then L5 brings in a completely different twist. Who, or what is the poet missing? Is it the stream, a person, or does this speak to a larger loss- the loss of habitat?


A similar theme of environmental damage is elaborated on in the tanka prose. I was also struck by the progression of each tanka—from the personal, to the poet's granddaughter, to a more universal observation. So much to learn about the craft of writing here ...



Challenge for this week:


Inspired by these thoughtful pieces of poetry, please write tanka or tanka prose on the theme of ecological sustainability.


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!


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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


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.

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