jornales

for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

My voted and zero haiku in the Feb Shiki kukai: a self-critique (Or what’s a mirror flashing as signal in the copse all about?)

February Shiki kukai

kigo (spring fever) – 5 pts.

spring fever—
shoots among the lilies
she can’t name

free format (mirror) 0 pts.

mirror
flashing in the copse—
signal she missed

What? A vague haiku, the kind no one should send for a kukai, but at least it wasn’t to a haiku journal, hence, it didn’t waste a minute of an editor. Yet when I wrote it, the image and the ‘moment’ seemed quite clear; it haunted me later though–what if the kukai pariticipants have no idea of the practice I recall in my teens? That’s so long ago, decades ago!

Decades ago when ‘secret loves’ ruled teenage lives and parents had eagle eyes and iron hands (sorry for the cliche); my growing up years in the Philippines, when the ‘mirror flashing in the copse’ served as a secret signal for assignations. Telephones would reach our town generations after I left–farther away into the future when cell phones and ohhh, facebook that has since taken away the thrill of getting caught halfway through the ‘verboten’ (an old HIgh German word for ‘forbidden’ that sounds so archival these days) love-pledges and assignations.

In my early teens, conservative upbringing by families who lingered on the fringes of a now-weakened colonial past treated girls as if we were all novices for a convent. For example, even on weekends, no prowling the streets for me because someone for sure–as my father, especially, drilled into my mind–waited to entrap my eyes, hiding in bamboo groves, in a copse of wild goat-berries or behind hefty trunks of aged acacia trees. Girls, like me and my friends, invented cunning ways to give in to the hunter’s trap. So that’s what the mirror/ flashing in the copse is all about–we used it to send signals though the more inventive among us, could frame words and phrases. Of course, because when and who does the signalling and for whom could hardly be confirmed, part of the thrill would lie in the surprise–but then, it could be missed as whoever awaited could have dozed off, hence signal she missed.

Conclusion? My free format entry wasn’t a haiku but a ‘micro story’ perhaps. Here’s the rest of my mirror haiku from which I chose what I sent that could have fared better.

mirror—
she stares
at her stare

mirror-
she sees her flaws
in his eyes

mirror
her mother’s lips
pursing like hers

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March 4, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

in the mist/frosted dawn (#24b & #25 for NaHaiWriMo with brief self-critique)

#24b for NaHaiWriMo (#24 posted at facebook site)
in the mist
waiting to meet you–
budding crocus

A double kigo for spring. I don’t know if it works. But I also see in it two meanings: ‘mist’ for uncertainty, ‘budding crocus’ for hope, reassurance.

#25
frosted dawn–
his words hang
over coffee

I’m not sure about the juxtapostion of image, kigo and meaning here. But I like it.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tanka? Lady Nyo replies to my plea (and tanka from haikuverse to here)

Two reasons why this re-post but more: First, at Red Dragonfly, my friend Melissa Allen’s blog, in her Lucky 13 edition of haikuverse, I read an intense discussion on tanka. I’ve been a tanka-pretender of late because a few of my tanka-ish (because they are in truth free verses) poems have been quite successful. Reading more on it though pulled me in deeper into the mist, into fog/understanding fades/–smoky white thickens. (By the way, if you wish to grow and expand as a haiku poet, follow Red Dragonfly, on my blogroll, especially her flights in the haikuverse.)

Second, I met Lady Nyo in cyberspace, at One Stop Poetry to be exact, through my post the other day, which I’ve pulled out here to include her reply to my plea that she take a look at my tanka. She kindly did and what a lesson I got using my tanka. My ignorance or better yet, bull-headedness, not paying attention to details of what I read about the art–honestly, I often gloss over most discussions and plunge straight into the poems–was bared. Her discussion of tanka through my attempts in this post has waken me up, bolting upright to seriously study it. Arigato gozaimas, Lady Nyo!

Here is my Valentine post of 5 after-the-classical tanka and 3 of my-own-version of modern tanka:

Could these five tanka attempts I wrote after rereading cover to cover Thomas Gurgal’s Japanese Tanka: The Court Poetry of a Golden Age mentioned twice here and Lady Nyo’s almost intimately written background on tanka writing be tanka? Lady Nyo and the tanka book I found at the Vancouver Public Library describe tanka written during the Heian dynasty. It’s the topic today on One Stop Poetry where I’m posting the following tanka. I did imagine myself as a lady of the court, scribbling notes for a lover but still I’m not certain. Could these be tanka?

1.
The roses you sent
I kissed each petal like lips
your vows blossoming–
Were you here I would ask again
Is your love unlike roses?

2.
In my hand your note
takes wings with my heart
I fly to you tonight–
Will the moon you promised
meet me among stars I bring?

3.
We sit under stars
skidding in the hemispheres
you make me wish
I whisper to the willows this:
Bring his wish to the winds

4.
Before I knew you
I wrote a poem on love
now you declare love
I am losing my poem
in my fluttering heart

5.
Will you be sad
you ask me like a songbird
singing to no one
you took my name and my heart
neatly tied in your knapsack

Three tanka–my own–of which I must ask the same question, could this be tanka? My subject is the same, yes, it’s on love but not courtly love. I also followed the structure but just can’t be certain. Would you tell me?

1.
driving into fog
our hearts in our hands–
same hands
scribbling secret codes
our midnight whispers

2.
under frozen skies
oriole songs fill a dome–
divining our dawns
the path our suns travel
distances our longing defy

3.
the full moon stalls
listening to midnight whispers–
skidding stars
spark the skies our eyes
on nothing else but ours

Lady Nyo’s reply to my plea:

I want to clear something up. Tanka isn’t only about love: it’s a vehicle to carry a message about mourning, praise, grief, death (as in Death Poems from Samurai) observations on nature, etc. So we should broaden our attempts at tanka to partake of so many themes.

I think these top 5 are very much in the tanka form. As to spirit? Yes, they are.

However, I do see a difference in the Court tanka, the more immediate tanka in something like the “Man-yoshu”…where the romantic sentiment is a bit more complex. It’s just different and this is hard to explain without a study of it.

But we aren’t Heian court women poets…we are modern women poets, and that ‘sensibility’ is very different I believe now.

The last three are lovely freeverse to me. What is missing here is the syllable count: 5-7-5, etc. If you read the romanji script…the original Japanese tanka, you see, by sounding it out that these tanka follow this form. They don’t necessarily stray from it because it is a discipline and has a purpose.

Tanka is to be read in two breaths. However, the top five very much carry correctly that important Kakekotoba, that pivot or bridge between the top poem (Kami no ku) and the bottom poem (Shimo no ku)

This is what is most hard (well, one of those hard things) in tanka to pull off…the unifying but also the recognition of tanka being actually TWO poems.

It takes a lot of work, process and study to begin to be ‘easy’ in this formation.

But we will get there. This is a good start.

Lady Nyo

We continued our discussion at Lady Nyo’s weblog (click on the blogroll) on the ‘elusive’ spirit of tanka as well as haiku. Next Tuesday at One Stop Poetry, Lady Nyo has promised to discuss the ‘two poems’ in a tanka.

February 17, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, free verse, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

grey relentless rain (is it tanka?)

grey relentless rain
on moss covered cherry trees—
he counts his regrets
since the dawn he missed the sun
days half-lived appear each turn

Is it tanka? Possibly because it follows the thirty-one (5/7/5/7/7) Japanese form.

But it can’t possibly be tanka because it does not express “passionate or delicate sentiments”, which its original form did.

Tanka reached its peak in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries also known as the “Heian period, Japan’s golden age”, as identified by Alfred H. Marks, editor-in-chief of Literature East & West. He introduces the period when no written language existed in Japan as yet and so, tanka, was recited. Each year, under the sponsorship of the emperor, a contest would be held. Professor Marks is a “renowned translator and dynamic scholar”.

Here’s a concrete vision of tanka a drawn by Professor Marks in his introduction: “…a languid lady in a palace lined with screens and colorful sliding walls, reading the thirty-one syllable statement of the heart of some moody nobleman and answering the missive in another thirty-one syllables in tasteful imagery and elegant calligraphy. It was the Heian greeting card, and it is today, in Japan as elsewhere, an apt medium for sentiments passionate or delicate.”

The book, Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age for which Professor Marks wrote this introduction contains 56 exquisite tanka by Thomas Gurgal, a former student of Marks, with Illustrations by Maggie Jarvies published by The Peter Pauper Press, Inc. Mount Vernon, NY, 1972.

I found the book squeezed between giant poetry tomes and collections at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch on West Georgia here in downtown Vancouver. The tiny pocketbook-size hardbound edition has been quite a discovery, which could hold me in awe even after I close the covers and must turn it back in when it’s due to circulation…I guess I’ll have to line up forever to get it back.

My tanka is far from the sentiments Gurgal so wondrously expresses. I could pretend to be a lady in some imperial court but I know I would be stretching my imagination too far out. My culture won’t give me a shadow to wing from. I would have to visit Japan, I guess. And so, I conclude, what I wrote is not a tanka by these ancient standards except, and this could be stretching it so much so it could snap, it also expresses a sentiment, that of ‘loss’, which seem to rule my subsconscious.

Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age by Thomas Gurgal

February 7, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

first snow (should be so past tense by now but …)

first snow
in the willow grove–
the waiting begins

First published in Sketchbook 5-6 Nov-Dec issue

…the waiting should be over. Some shoots have started to show in the mulch bed at the courtyard. Vigorous chirping trailed me on my way home the other day when it wasn’t raining; it’s been wet and grey on grey again yesterday and today. Here where there’s more rain, I miss the blinding white snow I used to skim around filigreed edges of the harbor in Baltimore. Oh, last week, a light flurry sent me grabbing for my woolen hat on my way out. I had by then put on my boots–too hot for the day it turned out. The flurries faded in an hour left frozen on grass like belated words. I should bus up to the almost all-year-snow capped mountains that frame Vancouver like Whistler but…

The haiku came to me on a walk by the ball field lined by willows in the neighborhood, not quite a willow grove, really. But I imagine it is and the bent branches looking for their reflections on the water like women obsessed with their long hair. Since their hair like the bare, dried willow twigs have lost their sheen in the ‘winter of their years’, their waiting begins perhaps for their youth to come back like spring. I don’t know–I’m making it all up. But I guess what I’m trying to say is I never really know why I write a haiku the way it is written. I still need to learn to be aware why.

February 4, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

winter moods (sequence that worked)

November sky
rains into stray runnels
into cesspools

drenched in the rain
city pavements let no step
leave a sign

on paved walls–
I trace the patchwork
by the moody rain

catching winter clouds
shielding for themselves alone
the marine blue sky

up frosty mountain peaks—
i wonder about the lily
in a summer pond

Published in LYNX XXVI:I, February 2011

A ‘sequence’ is another haiku-related form in English haiku where individual haiku along the same theme are put together. I seem to have better chances in getting accepted with it although most of my sequences have only been published in LYNX and The Cortland Review (Issue 39, ‘revenant’) not a haiku and its related forms but a poetry journal.

The form comes rather easily to me–I do it even here with my posts; when I start composing right here, one haiku often isn’t enough for an image/thought/moment that comes to mind. Sometimes I want to give up on writing haiku and perhaps just get on with my poetry, which seems to have given me a more distinctive voice but haiku whips me back to shape with its discipline and brevity. I look at it as a wisp of air, a mist, fog swarming over me so I may fade and be one with it.

And so, to add a haiku to this sequence

stepping into the fog
knowing
i, too, fade

January 31, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, poetry, sequence | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

dawn/lost (zero votes in Shiki kukai)-dawn/lost on bare trees (belated but could be better)

Shiki Jan 2011
kigo (dawn)


dawn–
in same sky but a memory
at winter twilight

free format

him I lost once
comes back a new smile
a changed country

Both haiku got zero votes in the kukai for obvious reasons–these are not haiku at all! I wrote them in a wrong state of mind, of this I’m certain. It was a blind space. But having sent them, which qualified me to vote, I got to read exquisite haiku like those of friends Melissa Allen and Margaret Dornaus both of whom got votes in both categories, and those of many other members of haikuworld most of whom are well published and multi-awarded. Congratulations, again!

And mine, belatedly written and could be better

kigo

dawn—
ripples on the water
as we speak

free format

lost on bare trees–
his promises

January 29, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

first frost on LYNX XXVI:1 (haiku that worked)/magnolia (didn’t work)

first frost—
the last of the roses
have lost their names

Published LYNX XXVI:I February 2011

Of the suite I submitted, only this haiku along with a sequence and a tanka worked. I think it was accepted because it’s the only one that is neither anthropomorphic (personifying an object) nor ‘author-driven’ (my weakness it seems) or I did not write my own opinion into it as compared to ‘magnolia’, one of five that didn’t work, here:

magnolia
bares molds on
winter skin

Yes, the magnolia bared in the fall through winter looks blotched and moldy. But I ‘stated’ my observation, and I even personified the magnolia as baring itself, instead of ‘simply noting my observation and my reaction to it’. Also, I used a metaphor in the last line. These points I think made it a non-haiku.

I should have worked on it some more and submitted something like this:

in the winter mist
the bare blotched magnolia–
i turn away

January 28, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, haiku, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments