Blood Sisters

Blood Sisters


the stream

invites me to connect—

I flow into her

she flows into me . . .

blood sisters


  A Sunday in autumn. We have entered the landscape of an Old Master, painted in saffron, cumin, coriander, paprika . . . of course, I don’t think this now—I’m only six years old. I slip my hand from yours,suddenly distracted by the stream and its delicate song,  following it until I am spellbound by the balletic leaps of sunlight and water. Surely this is a place where faeries gather?

  And then I become aware of another song, somewhere deep in my mind. A stream beginning to flow to the rhythm of words. Back home, I find a corner of quiet and open my treasure trove of conkers, pine cones, words . . . Before long, I have what I think a teacher at school told me is something called A Poem. One by one, you read it. My family.

  Tip-tilted in evening light, a pile of books you’ve scoured to find the poem I must have copied. Decades and reams of words later—of which you say nothing—the wound I dismiss as a paper-cut opens again, from time to time, stinging at the salt of your indifference.


fog lays claim

to a picture book sky . . .

I wash the colours

from my brush of dreams

in your glass of silence

~Shropshire, England

Atlas Poetica, A Journal of Poetry and Place in Contemporary Tanka,

Number 9, Summer 2011

The above piece was my first attempt at tanka prose. It didn’t take much persuasion for me to fall in love with this ancient form which pre-dates haibun by several centuries and yet is often seen as ‘new’ or experimental.

I am delighted to take up the position of  Tanka Prose editor for Haibun Today. I am grateful to Jeffrey Woodward for affording me this opportunity and to M.Kei for all that he has done to promote the writing and appreciation of this exciting and versatile genre by publishing many new pieces in Atlas Poetica and the Special Feature, edited by Bob Lucky. Atlas Poetica 9 is now available for download and I encourage anyone interested to learn more about tanka prose to follow the links here and to read my interview with Jeffrey Woodward, “Tanka Prose, Tanka Tradition” which includes a bibliography and notes for further reading.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kirigirisu
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 18:45:15

    First off, congratulations on your new post as editor of tanka prose at “Haibun Today”! Reading your interview with J. Woodward last week after poet Taro Aizu pointed me to the “Atlas Poetica” issue containing his work, I am convinced you are the one for the job. A very fine piece that, Claire. I appreciate an interview that is a real conversation and, at the same time, of real substance. I’ve loved tanka prose ever since reading the “Tosa Diary” a year or so ago. Are you familiar with the related Japanese form zuihitsu? I’ve thought to attempt it after reading Kimiko Hahn’s “The Narrow Road to the Interior” (yes, that’s really the title!), but the inspiration has never presented itself.

    What a beautiful exorcism your tanka prose above. The imagery of the final poem makes your reader extremely grateful the incident did not retire your palette. If it’s any consolation, the American poet Anne Sexton was accused by her mother of plagiarising Sara Teasdale when she shared her first poems with her. She didn’t write for years after that but when she resumed there was no stopping her.



    • Claire
      Nov 22, 2011 @ 20:33:15

      I am delighted you enjoyed the interview. I am so grateful to Jeffrey for his kindness and I was astonished by his knowledge. I’m not familiar with zuihitsu, but am now going to do some research! I still feel very humble as I feel I have much to learn and yet I also feel enormous enthusiasm, so I hope I will have a positive impact on the form. I would love to see a submission from you in the future, Brian.
      Yes, that piece was very cathartic. Of course, I now feel I have found sisters – and brothers – who do appreciate my writing and that is a wonderful feeling. You have also reminded me of the work of Anne Sexton.
      As always, Brian, thank you for your insightful comments and appreciation of my work.


  2. Kay Tracy
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 21:00:40

    Claire, I am so happy for your editorial assignment. Your gifts will be greatly appreciated.

    As for poetry: “No prophet is accepted in his own country.” In my case, the accusation of plagiarism came from a teacher in eleventh grade. I had written a paper about Ralph Waldo Emerson. It cuts deep when those we aspire to please can’t believe in us. I struggle with writing something no one will read. My parents don’t particularly like poetry, and mine rarely fits into a style long enough to gather more readers.

    I suppose the sign of bewitching is the lure to write in spite of this lack of audience? (Though, I think without Brian I may have stopped long ago…)

    What joy it would be to feel at peace–to join that stream you talk about, but I have the sneaky feeling that no matter what anyone says, self-doubt is so interlaced with my being that it will never leave me. I hope for you, it is different.

    My dear, your work shines like the North Star.

    Be well,


    • Claire
      Nov 22, 2011 @ 21:21:45

      Kay and Kirsten,
      After some 40 years of writing because I need to -with some breaks along the way due to trauma and the sheer overwhelming pressures of life – it is a joy to wake every day knowing there are people who find merit and beauty in my words. I thank my husband for encouraging me to start writing again after a seven year gap and for the mystery and magic that led me to try a completely new path. You’ve actually made me cry 🙂 and it’s all gooood…

      Bless you both.



  3. Kirsten Cliff - Swimming in Lines of Haiku
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 21:09:51

    Congratulations on your appointment, Claire. I’m sure you’ll get to read lots of wonderful poetry and that is an exciting position to be in, for sure! 🙂


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