Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mandy's Pages Tanka Contest, 2020 - Climate Change: The Burning Issue

Honoured to receive the following awards in this tanka contest, which was organized as a fundraiser for the Wildlife and Koala Rescue efforts in New South Wales, Australia. Thank you to Amanda Dcosta and Christine Villa for administering this contest, and to David Terelinck who blind-judged the entries!

a fleet
of trumpeter swans
at anchor
on the smoke-veiled lake
every bird, a beacon

Highly Commended

Judge David Terelinck's comments:

A visually rich tanka that contrasts the snow-white plumage of the trumpeter swan against the darkness of a smoke-filled landscape. A majestic bird, and the largest swan in the world. It is vulnerable to illegal shooting and collision with power lines, and they can succumb to lead poisoning by ingesting lead shot and fishing sinkers during feeding. In the early 1900s it was almost hunted to extinction for its skin, feathers, meat, and eggs.

This is an appealing poem in its sustained use of boating terminology: fleet, anchor and beacon. And the closing line is powerfully layered. It is times like now that humans need a beacon, because in many instances we have lost our way in terms of living harmoniously with nature. Perhaps it is time we looked to nature to be our guide in these troubled times?

The traditional s/l/s/l/l/ structure supports this tanka very well, and it has a highly effective pivot anchored in line 3.

as if I were
this ash-filled burl,
black veins
of decay winding through
my body like a river


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

An extremely lyrical tanka of loss and grief that speaks of the aftermath of bushfire. The narrator is very in tune with their new landscape. They associate with a fire-blackened outlook that may well mirror their own prospects. There is something hypnotically alluring in the choice "ash-filled burl, / black veins / of decay winding".

my easel stands
neglected in the corner
still flecked
with bright colours of a world
I no longer recognize


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

The easel in this poem could easily be the life of anyone on the planet today. Coronavirus has curtailed our view of the world. Because of limited movements, both internationally and locally, our palette is limited. Our life has been put on hold; yet it is still sparked with colours and people we have not forgotten. The world, and how we relate to it, will likely be very different after the pandemic is over. But right now, we don't recognize it for what it meant to us before all of this unfolded. The beauty in this tanka is that you can also apply this easel to any natural disaster that strips the vibrancy from our lives and relegates us to pastel shades until we learn to paint in brightness again.

low temperatures
in Florida
iguanas fall from trees
like otherworldly rain


Judge David Terelinck's comments:

Two key words in this tanka add to its strength. So much of what has happened to everyone of late is "unexpected", be it extreme natural weather events or a virus of global proportions. One day our life is trundling along without incident, the next we are facing life and death situations and decisions. The low temperatures are weather-related, but could be seen as a metaphor for almost anything that rocks our complacency; indeed any "otherworldly" event. One could read the iguanas as a metaphor for man as he falls foul of his own constructs. Again, a tanka with an effective L3 pivot.

Sable Books - Haiku Book Contest for Women, 2019

Overall Winner - Debbie Strange
The Language of Loss: Haiku & Tanka Conversations

I offer my gratitude to Roberta Beary, judge of the 2019 Sable Books Haiku Book Contest for Women, for her sensitive and insightful reading of The Language of Loss: Haiku & Tanka Conversations, and for her generous commentary. It is an honour beyond measure to receive the first place award from an esteemed writer I so admire.

My appreciation is also extended to accomplished writers Kala Ramesh and Christina Sng, for their support during the pre-reading process.

Thank you to John Barlow, editor of Snapshot Press, for his encouraging note regarding an earlier version of the tanka portion of this manuscript.

I am indebted to the Sable books team for administering this contest, and for their dedication to the promotion of diverse voices.

Judge Roberta Beary's commentary:

"These exquisite poems illuminate the skill of the author in pairing haiku and tanka in conversation, one page at a time. On one page, the long ago past talks to the recent past. On another, the sorrow of the natural world is juxtaposed with that of the human world.

The Language of Loss contains tanka and haiku of exceptional quality. But it is the remarkable way in which the poet links tanka and haiku that elevated The Language of Loss into the winner's circle. The poems on each page come together in a conversation of many layers. That these conversations will deepen and change for each reader is due to the author's expertise. I am delighted to congratulate Debbie Strange on her winning collection."

The Haiku Foundation: HaikuLife Film Festival 2020

This haiga video is comprised of previously published poems to celebrate International Haiku Poetry Day, an initiative of the Haiku Foundation, held on April 17, 2020.

The Other Side of Silence

(with recitation)





The Haiku Foundation: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration, April 2020

Theme: Year of the Nurse

last breath . . .
a nurse turns mother
toward the light

empty womb . . .
a nightingale comforts me
through the night

the beak she wears
on her mask

Note: during the 17th century plague, doctors wore a beak-like mask which was filled with lavender or other strongly scented substances, which acted somewhat like a respirator.

The Haiku Foundation: The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems, 2019

There were over 800 nominations, and I'm honoured that three of my haiku were included in the shortlist of 30 poems. My thanks to the editors and individuals who nominated my work, and to the judges for taking the time to read!

I skip a pebble across
the universe

Seashores 2

ghost apple
this emptiness

Shamrock Haiku Journal 42

weathered oars
we fold our worries
into the river

Acorn 42

The Cherita, February 2020

Issue: "dream journal"

stark bones

of winter trees
offer no shelter

but I will
always be here,
arms open

a raku bowl

collects sunlight
on my table

how our fire
changes colour
with the seasons

we are facing pages

in this dog-eared
storybook life

the best passages
with love

Winnipeg Free Press: The World of Poetry - Writes of Spring, 2020

National Poetry Month Feature curated by Ariel Gordon and Kerry Ryan:

Untitled Tanka

I have always
been a scatterling
in this world
of curiosities, there is
never enough time