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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 11th July 2024. Sonam Chhoki, featured poet

hosts: Kala Ramesh & Firdaus Parvez

A Thursday Feature.

poet of the month: Sonam Chhoki

11th July 2024


This month we have the pleasure of featuring Sonam Chhoki


Sonam Chhoki finds the Japanese short form poetry resonates with her Tibetan Buddhist upbringing. She is inspired by her father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan’s non-monastic modern education and by her mother, Chhoden Jangmu, who taught her: “Being a girl doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.” She is the principal editor, and co-editor of haibun for the online journal of Japanese short forms, cattails

 

Her chapbook of haibun, The Lure of the Threshold was published in May 2021. Mapping Absences, a collaboration of haibun, tan bun and tanka prose with Mike Montreuil was published in 2019. Another collaboration with Geetanjali Rajan: Unexpected Gift was published in November 2021.




Light in a Cup

 

For mother, it had to be whole tea leaves. Darjeeling First Flush brewed in a bone China teapot. The water near-boiled to uncurl the leaves slowly and release that signature green-gold liquor and muscatel scent. She drank it in a fine teacup, its translucence letting through the amber hue of the brew. First thing in the morning after her prayers, last thing as the sun went down.


On his return from Japan, father brought her a Japanese tea set and some Gyokuro, known as Jade Dew. The accompanying booklet described a meditation in tea preparation. The near-boiled water is poured into the tea bowls to warm these.  A measure of Gyokuro into the ceramic teapot. Mother used a pinch of leaves. The water in the teapot must be cooled to bring out its famed pale green liquor. When the leaves start to unfurl the lid is placed on the teapot. 


The first time she made Gyokuro her eyes lit up. Tea was her favourite tipple in the muggy heat of the monsoon, the crisp cold of spring and snow-scald of winter.


This evening, sixteen years to the day she died, I pour Darjeeling First Flush into her bone China cup. The sun is tipping into sunset red. It is almost as if I am holding the saffron brilliance of dusk in her cup. I drink it in her name.


dusk offering -

flies trace the eyes

of Yöpamey *

 

Note:

 

*Yöpamey:  Buddha of Boundless Light

 

Kernels/cattails April 2013



We asked Sonam a few questions and she graciously made time to answer them. Here're the next two:


THG: What is your writing process?

 

Sonam: The haiku is the starting point. It is germane to how the thoughts and emotions develop in the haibun.  These two haiku:

 

asleep

on a piece of torn prayer flag

a stray puppy

 

and:

 

cataract eye sun opens morning glory flowers


were the anchor and start for the haibun, Last Journey 

 

 

Once the haiku is in place, the prose details begin to take shape. But, the order in which the haiku originally came to me changes as the prose passage develops. It’s a case of chop, change and adjust.

 

I often write a piece and then leave it for a while. Work, household chores or a walk help to clarify details and slowly the coherence or the problems emerge. Then, it’s back to rewriting and refining the piece.

 

THG: Would you share some editing tips? 

 

Sonam: The starting point of editing is recognising that it is a tool that sharpens and refines the awkward, extraneous and inexplicable edges of our writing.  It is not a condemnation or a rejection of a piece of writing, rather it is a process by which we achieve a poem in its best possible form. The correlation between creation and criticism has a long literary history and I share a few examples here.

 

Allan Ginsburg famously said, “first word, best word.”  But I think that the “next word, better word” riposte by Stephen Dobyns has much to offer us in the craft of poetry. Poets like TS Eliot, Matthew Arnold and Ezra Pound linked the craft of creation with criticism. Eliot argued that it’s a fallacy that in subjecting one’s work to criticism, we lose our individual voice.

 

Writing is an art that has to be learned and practised. A writer has to be able to articulate views beyond the individual’s simple likes, dislikes and prejudices. Only by honing this craft of writing with a critical eye, does a poet arrive at something beyond oneself.

 

We need to go beyond being precious about our writing and believing that what we write is the truth. Once we accept this premise, editing opens up how we write.

 

Prompt:

A heartfelt memory unfolds like tea leaves in a teapot in Sonam's beautiful descriptions. She engages all the senses, sharing something dear to her. This haibun, steeped in the past, invites you in. How does it make you feel? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Your prompt word is REMEMBERING. Interpret it as you like. Mostly, have fun!


Haibun outside this prompt is welcome too.


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 helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!


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PLEASE NOTE:

1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.

2. Share your best-polished pieces.

3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.

Let it simmer for a while.

4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.

5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.


We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.

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130 hozzászólás


Alfred Booth
Alfred Booth
júl. 17.

#2

**


"The Age of Anxiety"


I have read W.H. Auden many times. My mind has always had a singular stubbornness retaining printed words.


My right hand has been dying slowly for the last 13 years. Dictating  now into my telephone, I am sitting on a chaise longue beneath the graceful birch tree watching all the hill's leaves float in gentleness, watching the greens of the vineyards dance in the wind, watching the slow progress of clouds across the sky high above the French Alps. There is a wonderful and reassuring scent of fresh-cut grass in the air. Trying to forget for at least an hour or two.


My right hand longs for Mozart, its delicateness, its intricate weaving of complicated…


Kedvelés
Alfred Booth
Alfred Booth
7 days ago
Válasz címzettje:

Thank you, Lorraine. It is a very emotionally painful situation to endure.

Kedvelés

Keith Evetts
Keith Evetts
júl. 16.

#1

Crumb of Comfort


For some time now, my dear wife has stopped bringing me buttered toast in bed.


I hope it's because we no longer have a cat.


suburban greenhouse

the fieldmouse caught

in a humane trap


Keith Evetts Thames Ditton UK

comments welcome


Kedvelés
Keith Evetts
Keith Evetts
júl. 17.
Válasz címzettje:

Padma, well spotted. Corrected!

Kedvelés

mona bedi
mona bedi
júl. 15.

Post #2

15.7.24


Gembun


all those years of (non) marital bliss


dwindling fire

the sharp edge

of your smirk


Feedback appreciated:)

Mona Bedi

india

Kedvelés
Válasz címzettje:

I like this Mona. I don't think you need (non) - omitting it, leaves it open for the reader to make their own interpretation.

Kedvelés

#2 Gembun (first attempt)


almost spiritual


winter solstice

a crowd wading

into the water


Lorraine Haig, Australia

Revised with thanks to Joanna.


winter solstice

a crowd wading

into the water


a belief that is almost spiritual


Lorraine Haig, Australia

Feedback greatly appreciated

Kedvelés
Válasz címzettje:

Thank you for your help, Joanna. I'll do that.

Kedvelés

Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh
júl. 14.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Sonam for reading the haibun posted here and giving such effective and strong feedback. We thank her for her time, effort and expertise.

Kedvelés
mona bedi
mona bedi
júl. 15.
Válasz címzettje:

truly grateful.

Kedvelés
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