What WAS Tanka Sunday? I wish all of you could have been there with us for this afternoon and evening, the amazing and rich culmination of our week on the Queen Mary. The “Victoria Room” where the programs were help was full. About 35 international poets filled the room with poetry. It began at 1 PM with a welcome by Maragraet Chula TSA president, and Michael Dylan Welch, TSA founder. A tanka read-around was a part of this welcome, each poet introducing themselves and reading one tanka.
This was followed by a tanka writing workshop led by David Rice, Ribbons editor. The room was astir with tanka…In this session Mariko Kitakubo and I began a long wished for and anticipated tanka sequence, (which recalls my first enchantment with tanka, on listening to her perform in Japanese. Thanks to David’s encouragement to the group… just write tanka, and maybe try a collaboration.,, many new things were happening. He led a special session for a few newer tanka poets, with more direction.
After a short break, at 2:30 A fascinating Panel Discussion was presented, one of the best I have ever heard. The topic was International Views of Tanka. Each of the panelists spoke to the current views of tanka in their country as they saw them. Micahel Dylan Welch led the group, Stev en D. Carter, Japan, Amelia Fielden, Australia and Japan, Marilyn Hazleton, United States, and Kozoue Uzawa, Canada. How wonderful it was to meet these wonderful poets and editors in person!
My favorite comment was by Marilyn Hazleton who said she saw a strong theme of “transformation” in American tanka. There were distinct differences in approach in all the participants.
The keynote speaker for Tanka Sunday was Stephen D. Carter chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University, who presented the unusual figure of Kinoshita Choshoshi, (1569-1649): Tanka Iconoclast.
After a short dinner break Kathabela Wilson presented a performance by Tanka Poets on Site, an online group that works together to learn, appreciate and write tanka inspired by prompts given. They have over the last year written and archived about 8,000 tanka! They presented a ten minute selection of tanka written on four (of about 380 prompts over the last year+. The poets who had written on the prompts and were present read their own work as well as the tanka of the other poets not present. The delightful and heart-warming reading poets who had gathered to join Kathabela for the reading were Susan Diridoni, Sondra J. Byrnes, Nancy Ellis Taylor, Genie Nakano, kris moon, (Kris Kondo). It was a moving overview of of responses to prompts by Kathabela “no ordinary flower” “what cannot be contained” ” what fruit do you identify with, talk to”. Each poet listening was given the tanka book made by Kathabela and Rick Wilson to celebrate this performance. A full performance, reading every tanka in the book, and including “children playing in the road” (prompt by Gary Blankenship) will be performed at our home salon in Friday evening, August 30, 7PM.