Monday, January 20, 2014

Collaborative tanka sequence: a swatch of gauze

Writing responsive or other collaborative sequences appears to be quite popular for many tankaists these days. Here's one I wrote with poet Jenny Ward Angyal (also see the previous post). In my several years as a tanka poet, I'd never collaborated in sequence form before; neither had Jenny. It was a fascinating experience, and I was honored to have such a good partner. Hope you enjoy the little journey we took as we responded to each other's words. Was the journey imaginary or "real"?

P.S. We decided to post this sequence on our respective blogs at around the same time.

a swatch of gauze

the clear wings
of a dragonfly
on my hand
a treasure map
of copper veins

into the hollow
of an oak
I search for pennies
stashed away by an elf 

among apple blossoms,
a gray tree frog—
I follow the trill
of another world

of a watercolor
mountainside ...
how to get there
when I have no brush?

the blue ridge
in light and shadow
I slip through the eye
of my own needle

left right
north south east west—
a feather
on a course of zigzags
becomes my compass 

a sparrow
missing one eye
alights on my knee ...
the distant music
of a blind harper

rendered mute
by a waterfall—
in a grotto
of lava and fern
I speak in poems 

a scallop shell
bound in a bale 
of mulch—
my inland journey
to the sea

at home
among pine needles 
a strand
of golden thread
to bind my seams

—Jenny Ward Angyal and Janet Lynn Davis
Skylark, Winter 2013


  1. Wow, Jenny and Janet ! ! So much here. Such an exquisite transcendent ride – and beautifully sympatico. (Are you two sure, you weren’t separated at birth – Smiles.) Just lovely.

  2. many thanks, wendy. when starting out, I thought it was going to be obvious who wrote what, and I thought we'd be 2 separate characters in the same sequence. but instead it seems we became the same narrator. kind of a "psychic" experience for me. ;)

  3. I enjoyed the collaboration--let's do it again some time!

  4. Beautiful. The tanka flow, one into the other. Well done.

    I wouldn't mind doing one with you some time.


  5. Thank you, Adelaide!

    I'm glad you "wouldn't mind" doing one with me! :) I'm not writing a whole bunch at the moment (kind of busy with TSA and other stuff), but hopefully down the road I'll get my act together better and will be able to do more collab writing. (Maybe you, me, and Jenny?)

  6. Beautiful, beautiful work! This is one to read again and savor ladies--thank you!

  7. Welcome back, Jennifer!
    And thanks v. much for your comments ... Glad you enjoyed reading this.

  8. I phrased that clumsily. I would love to do a collabortive tanka with you or with you and Jenny.