Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ribbons, Volume 15, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2019

Honoured to be the featured poet in this issue. My thanks to David Rice!


Sharing My Light

As a child, I used to curl up on the couch in our farmhouse while listening to my father recite poetry. This was my introduction to the power of words, and I remain under their spell to this day.

snow whirls
outside the henhouse . . .
father cups
my hands around
a warm brown egg

3rd Place, 2018 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

I wrote my first poem at nine, and began writing songs at twelve. My older sister was my mentor and singing partner, always encouraging me to "share my light." When she passed away at 28, I was lost.

a smudge
of blackbirds swirling
into evening . . .
how fluid the shape
of this sorrow

2nd Place, 2018 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

Years later, I took my sister's advice and submitted work to an'ya at kernelsonline (Cattails). My haiku chapbook, A Year Unfolding (Folded Word 2017) is a direct result of that first acceptance. I am grateful to an'ya for helping me take a leap of faith into short-form poetry. It changed my life!

each moment
here on earth is numbered . . .
so why not
fly too close to the moon,
and hang our hats on stars?

1st Place, 2016 Mandy's Pages Annual Tanka Contest

Shortly afterward, I discovered tanka on Twitter via M. Kei. I am indebted to him for publishing my first book, Warp and Weft: Tanka Threads in 2015, and its sequel, Three-Part Harmony: Tanka Verses in 2018. Both books are comprised of tanka that appeared individually in a variety of publications over the years. I selected tanka that resonated with each other, combining them into triptychs in an effort to expand their scope. This technique allowed me to breathe new life into old poems. I do not think of these "verses or threads" as sequences, because they were not written as such. The titles are drawn from the last tanka in each set and serve to bring the poems full circle.

this fleeting moment

how still
this numinous dawn
we kneel,
watching a muskrat's breath
bubbling under thin ice

light spills
through a fallstreak hole
onto water . . .
if nothing else,
this will be enough

wishing seeds
cartwheel through warm air
how quiet
this fleeting moment
this belief in miracles

1st verse: The Bamboo Hut, Spring 2015
2nd verse: HM, 2017 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest
3rd verse: 2nd HM, 2015 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

Musicality in tanka is vital to me, as I often sing the poems while strumming my guitar. Vocabulary also plays an integral role in my work.

the growth rings
of otoliths and trees . . .
when did she
become smaller
than her daughters

2nd Place, 2017 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

Composing tanka is my primary writing focus. This daily meditation quiets my mind and helps to distract me from chronic pain.

the architecture
of impending storms . . .
every cloud
that hangs over me
has a given name

HM, 2017 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest

I have made my home beside the ocean, on the prairies, and at the feet of mountains. Poetry of place features in much of my tanka.

the ocean
was in a rage last night
but today,
these peace offerings
of blue mussels and kelp

1st Place, 2018 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest

Many of my tanka and photographs depict flora, fauna, and phenomena encountered while camping, birding, and hiking in the wilds.

dried curls
of gray reindeer moss
crunch softly
underneath our boots . . .
no other sound, but breath

1st Place (tie), 2016 San Francisco International Competition

Human experience is also a frequent subject in my tanka.

tracks of birds
meander through snow . . .
the surgeon
marks her left breast
with a cross

1st Place, 2016 British Haiku Society Tanka Awards

The short-form community inspires me. Reading the work of others and heeding editorial advice pushes me to hone my skills. I offer my thanks to the following gifted tanka poets who provided blurbs for my books:

without . . .
each evening seems even
than it takes the river
to smooth a thousand stones

an'ya: Winner, 2018 British Haiku Society Tanka Awards

when no one is around,
my heart changes
into a heron
and flies

M. Kei: HM, 2007 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest

it's not so much
the 'big one' when it comes
but aftershocks . . .
our favorite song,
letters addressed to you

David Terelinck: Winner, 2018 British Haiku Society Tanka Awards

through rain
through a year
of threadbare melodies
the early dark
of stolen mulberries

ai li: The Tanka Anthology, 2003 (editor Michael McClintock et al)

if you were reborn
a fly and I, a spider
with skeins of rainbow
I would weave
a web for our dreams

Sonam Chhoki: Fire Pearls, Volume 2, 2013 (editor M. Kei)

a tree trunk
lost in the shadow
of its branches . . .
another yes
when I meant to say no

Ken Slaughter: 1st Place, 2015 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest

in an old picture
my mother's hand so firm
on my shoulder
as if gravity alone
could not hold me down

Angela Leuck: Take Five, Volume 4, 2011 (editor-in-chief M. Kei)

Holding a letter
with words no longer true;
day-lilies open
and wither
in the same vase.

Alexis Rotella: The Tanka Anthology, 2003 (editor Michael McClintock et al)

The cuckoo clock strikes
I smile at the soft dawn light
Until my eyes rest
On your bare dressing table,
On all the empty hangers

Denis Garrison: Fire Pearls, 2006 (editor M. Kei)

This tanka journey has been an amazing adventure, and it has brought me closer to awareness of the universe and myself.

on this night
of our awareness,
the aurora
brushes an ensō
across lake and sky

HM, 2018 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest

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