Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eleven months

eleven months
since the tsunami . . .
here in our yard
daisy clusters spring up
out of season

Ribbons, Spring 2006

Remember the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on December 26, 2004? The new year arrived right then, before we were ready.  

I appreciate how we can use tanka to document our lives and the events that brighten or darken them. However, I pull out my early tanka and then sometimes want to edit them; e.g., in this one, line 4 feels kind of tongue-twistery. If I were composing this today I might consider "clusters of daisies / spring up out of season" (or just "daisies spring up / out of season"). Or alternatively, I possibly could use "daisy clustersin either line 1 or 3. I may feel more edit-happy nowadays, but it seemed easier to write (spill?) them in the first place several years ago.


  1. I don't find this to be tongue-twisting; I like the confluence of sounds: tsunami, clusters, spring, season. And I like the juxtaposition of disaster with renewal.

    Yes, greater critical acumen can get in the way of beginner's mind. I think they need to be separate processes: kick your inner critic upstairs; let the words flow; and only later polish the results.

  2. I agree with you about the separate processes. I'm glad line 4 is smooth enough for you, the reader, to say! ;) I vaguely recall noticing a roughness (to me) at the time, which I decided to leave. The tsunami certainly defined much of that year; I seemed to measure time by it. It was as if the subsequent seasons were out of whack.

  3. Hi Janet,

    I have visited your blog a couple of times now. I read your poem 'Not Another Death Poem" on 'Bolts of Silk' and thought it was beautiful.
    There was something so personal and relatable about it, ie; removing the ceremony of the dying process and focusing on the individual, if that makes sense. Very touching.

    Wanted to say hello and express how I liked your work.


    Megan .W.

  4. Thank you, Megan, for the very nice comment! I'll probably post that poem here on this blog in a month or two.

    Feel free to stop by and say hello again whenever you'd like.


  5. I don't think the original version is difficult to say, and obviously the editor of Ribbons didn't think so, either. I am often too critical of my own work, both before and after publication, and rather than spend too much time on revising published work, I keep telling myself to concentrate on new work and getting that as good as possible.

    I always enjoy your blog.


  6. Thanks, Adelaide. Maybe it's just me. ;) I agree with you,"I keep telling myself," etc. I guess the gist of what I wanted to say was that I pay a bit more attention to the exact wording, etc., of my poems now than I did when I was more of a beginner. But overall, my earlier work was likely a bit "fresher." So I need to teach myself to be a beginner again (which for me amounts to finding a v. quiet place, being open, and not trying too hard) while still keeping a critical eye. Write/spill with the right (?) brain, and afterwards edit with the left (or is it the other way around?). Thanks for visiting!

  7. I know what you mean about trying too hard. I feel that sometimes I have publication in mind, instead of just writing spontaneousely without reservation, the way I did before I was so aware of all the do's and don't's. It's not easy to cast aside all these years of absorbing rules, guidelines and suggestions and simply write, relying on instinct.


  8. "...simply write, relying on instinct..." Yes!

    At any rate, I greatly admire your writing!

  9. Janet...the irony is what draws me to this poem. The beauty of the daisies contrasted with the horror of the tsunami. and the timing of both. So glad this found a home. great work. xo stace