twelve moons reviewed by Amelia Fielden

twelve moons

by Claire Everett (2012)

 

Reviewed by Amelia Fielden.

Atlas Poetica 14, Spring 2013

 

Here is a collection for the romantics amongst us! The tanka in Claire Everett’s twelve moons collection are beautiful, twenty-first century echoes of the classical Japanese waka of love, longing and loss.

 

My heart and mind are taken back to the world of the Heian era women poets by its very title twelve moons, and then the division of Claire’s book into these chapters: spring; awakening moon; egg moon; lilac moon; summer; corn-tassels moon; mead moon; barley moon; autumn; harvest moon; leafdance moon; whitefrost moon; winter; long nights moon; wolf moon; hunger moon.

 

The world of tenth century waka/tanka was opened to English readers in 1990 with the publication of The Ink Dark Moon, Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Otani.

 

Indeed, one of Claire’s harvest moon tanka directly relates to that wonderful book of translations:

 

cloth-soft edges . . .

whose hands held you before mine?

my heart

a rice-paper sky

for The Ink Dark Moon

 

In twelve moons, we find four pieces which include the word ‘tanka’, another three which sing of poems and the writing of poetry in general, and this one in the autumn moon chapter which references the first great collection of waka/tanka, the eighth century Man’yōshū, the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves:

 

until, my love

our days have the ink

of autumn

drying in their veins . . .

ten thousand leaves in the sun

 

A characteristic of Japanese collections, also, — even in the modern era — is to include a number of poems about the creative process, and the comfort to be found specifically in reading and composing tanka. It is clearly a comfort which Claire, too, enjoys, in addition to the delights in contemplating the natural world around her. One of my favourite tanka in twelve moons is this:

 

spring’s first iris

I watch her unfold

her blue kimono . . .

the comfort of rituals

in this shaken world

 

There is strong resonance in some of Claire’s tanka with japanese imagery: here we have the unfolding of a kimono; in another poem her heart is likened to a koto (Japanese harp); while the night as a black flower is an enduring makurakotoba (fixed epithet) in traditional Japanese tanka. This is Claire’s ‘black flower’ love poem:

 

scent of breaking light

the shortest day

this night

a black flower

we have pressed between us

 

And, in the long nights moon chapter, decorated with Japanese terms is this charming shasei tanka:

 

from the tip

of the breeze-brushed fir

red sumi-e

a robin’s calligraphy

this roll of kinwashi sky

 

Yes, there are many Japanese connections in twelve moons; but there are also poems which sing of the English countryside and many original metaphors, such as this whole tanka, another of my favourites:

 

miles away

a piece of the stream

is still singing

of the loss

of the heron’s reflection

 

Outstandingly, this is a collection throbbing with universal emotions, expressed in the fresh voice of Claire Everett.

 

It is a life-loving voice, frequently wistful — proportionately there are more which could be classified as ‘poems of longing’ than any other type of tanka in this collection — yet it is a voice which reflects the joys as well as the griefs of ‘everywoman’.

 

Delicate black and white ink nature drawings by Claire’s daughter, Amy, enhance the pages of twelve moons. The lovely fox in the snow cover is also the work of this talented young artist.

 

An introduction by David Terelinck gives an excellent analysis and summation of this book, which I recommend wholeheartedly.

The Reviewer:

Amelia Fielden is an award-winning, internationally published poet and a professional translator. A graduate of the Australian National University, she holds a Master’s degree in Japanese Literature. Amelia has had 6 volumes of original English tanka published, the most recent being Light on Water (2010). In addition, she has collaborated with fellow Australian poet Kathy Kituai, and with Japanese poet Saeko Ogi, to produce 4 collections of responsive tanka, including the bilingual Word Flowers (2011). Amelia has also published 17 books of Japanese poetry in translation.

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touchdown

 

touchdown

a poem from a friend

with dawn on its wings…

a heron unfolds

from my inbox

 

~

 

damselflies mend

a moment’s broken seam

how delicate

these blue pins of sadness

silent masters of the flame

 

~

 

what you mean to me…

a solitary swift

finds a window of blue

and the sky tilts

on its axis

 

3 of my tanka from GUSTS (Tanka Canada) No 14, fall/winter 2011

 

~

nodding sunflowers …                                                  nickende Sonnenblumen …

Grandma opens her eyes                                            Oma offnet die Augen

to dreams                                                                          den Traumen

 

Chrysanthemum, autumn 2011

 

~

 

spaghetti sauce —

we meet each other

half way

 

Honourable Mention,

International Senryu competition 2011

Lyrical Passion Poetry e-zine

 

 

 

~

The Voices of Leaves

 

The Voices of Leaves

a tanka sonnet:

 

butterfly

with dust on your wings, what lies

beyond the sunset?

 

not the ocean

but the voices of leaves. . .

whorled shell

 

how you danced

on a pin head of time. . .

my turning mind

combs this music box night

encrypted with stars

 

the dove’s head

beneath its wing. . .

windswept moon

 


Remembering Svetlana,  one month on.

~

 

this journey

through sun and squall and desert wind

and we

all hostages to fortune

with butterfly wings

 
~

 

twisted willow

I sit in the shadow

of Shiva

poetry coursing

through my veins

 

~

 

this still lake

and these mountains painted

in antiquity…

rain on her sleeve, the sky

upsets a tin of tacks

 

~

 

autumn leaves

where we walked beneath

a honey moon

the folds and unfolds of dreams,

the yellowed tape of Lakeland

 

~

 

ellipsis

you’re gone     you’re gone

and yet…

catching this gossamer

what’s left of the light

 

~

 

until…

she curls around a memory

of herself

this golden timepiece

summer’s fading pulse

 

~

beyond this vanishing

 

 

in a cold blue sky

ripples of robin song–

each note takes me

deeper into loving you,

losing you

 

~

white roses

and fresh linen

neatly folded

even her letter

smells like home

 

Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka, volume 3, 2010

~

a hawk moth

passes the window —

I am haunted

by the ghosts of lives

I might have lived

 

Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka, volume 3, 2010

~

I thought you taught me

all I needed to know

about silence…

waxing with the moon

magnolia blooms

 

Bottle Rockets no 25 2011

~

edges blurred

the seasons of my heart…

today the willow

sheds yellow leaves

on yesterday’s perfect snow

 

Bottle Rockets no 25 2011

~

the sky so clear

I can see for miles…

I look hard

for your future

as they wash your blood

 

Ribbons, volume 7, number 2, summer 2011

~

morning rain

mist of breath on the lush shoots

of spring flowers…

time will have me be

no more and no less

 

Red Lights, volume 7, number 2, 2011

~

by candlelight

watching incense twist and curl

as shadow…

the double helix uncoils,

this illness passed down the line

 

Red Lights, volume 7, number 2, 2011

~

this is mother

the red beak-spot tells the chick —

so often now

imprinted on my mind

the face of a stranger

 

Red Lights, volume 7, number 2

~

Four haiku for Svetlana:

ten thousand leaves
whisper in the shale…
ebbing moon

 ~

the egret preens
as if to reach its heart. . .
autumn rain

~

red maple leaf…
still holding her heart
up to the sun

~

beyond
this vanishing. . .
the godwit’s light

 

~

Fitful Moon

Fitful Moon

a tanka sonnet

starless night. . .
from our clouded hearts
the scent of rain
 
fitful moon. . .
drifting between dreams
of a moon

dawn lifts her cheek
from a pillow of heather
dips her quill
in a brook of tears, to write
a score for the birds

spotted fawn. . .
from these cupped hands, come drink
the time of mountains

words are not enough –  for Svetlana Marisova,  gifted haiku and tanka poet and beautiful soul, who slipped into a coma yesterday. You can read many of her fine haiku(and Robert Wilson’s features about her) in Simply Haiku, spring and summer 2011. 

However you pray and whatever form your spirituality takes, please hold this young woman in your hearts as she continues to fight inoperable brain cancer.

 

~

final push…

breaking over the hills

our closest star

how little the world weighs,

my firstborn, my son

For Michael Leo on his 23rd Birthday

~ 

Claim Song moon

unwind these fields of summer

when all

is safely gathered in

his fingers through my hair

 

~ 

 

drifting dunes…

close enough to silence

the wing-beats

of sandmartins

summer’s fading pulse

 

~

once more

the honeysuckle,

garnet and gold…

my empty cup spills

over with blackbird song

~

barefoot from a dream

across a nursery of a stars…

the light

from a cradle moon

gathered to her heart

For Christina Nguyen and baby Diane

~

willow leaves turning

a millstream sky…

our minds brush by

in passing

clouds

for Paul Smith

~

this inkstone night

the brush of your lips

in this inkstone night…

I am a poem

as old as the mystery

the breath between the stars

~

woodsmoke

a memory of his childhood

laughter and light

clambering green…

until the bough breaks

~

lobster pots

stacked at the quayside

nothing to catch

but a young girl’s dreams

and the whispers of the tide

~

this ancient self

rolling my tongue around

words in dreams …

in the lull between tides

a poem birthed

~

stooping now and then

to wash a pebble

in a tide pool

memory walks the shoreline

with her bucket of dreams

~

swirling notes

each phrase and gesture –

how soon it ends

on the wings of swifts and swallows

this summer song

~

three tanka for Svetlana, Kirsten and Lisa, all of whom are poets, battling cancer:

sewn heart to heart

the flowers of our prayers

rest your head awhile…

the mountains you have raised

are moving to your song

~

spun from light

these silks with the strength of steel…

you are the poet

and the poem that births

a thousand suns

~

in iris sandals

I will cross the sky

with words for you…

a quiver of raindrops

for the bow of the sun

~

 

Two superb journals are currently open to submissions:

Simply Haiku Calls For Submissions

 
Simply Haiku is now accepting submissions of “Quality Traditional English Language Haiku, Tanka, Haibun, Haiga, Renga, Book reviews, Interviews and Feature articles.”

Submission deadline: September 15, 2011. Please read carefully the Submission Guidelines before submitting.

On behalf of: Robert D. Wilson & Sasa Vazic
Co-Owners, Co-Publishers, Co-Editors in Chief

 

MOONBATHING

A JOURNAL OF WOMEN’S TANKA

 

 

EDITOR

Pamela A. Babusci

 

Moonbathing Issue 5 is now accepting

submissions. I have additional copies

of Moonbathing issues of 3 & 4

If you wish to purchase a copy(ies)

please e-mail me.

THIRD ANNUAL MOONBATHING CONTEST:

Please e-mail with your regular submission one tanka

on the theme of “moonbathing”. The winner will receive

a year’s subscription.

 

Moonbathing will publish two issues a year: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.

 

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Moonbathing will feature only women poets. Send a maximum of 10 tanka per submission period. Submission deadlines:

Spring/Summer: In-hand Deadline: May 15th spring/summer themes or non-seasonal only

Fall/Winter: In-hand deadline: Dec. 15th

fall/winter theme or non-seasonal only

No previously published tanka or simultaneous submissions; no tanka that has been posted on-line on a personal website/blog.

SUBMISSION ADDRESSES:

Send your tanka IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to: Pamela A. Babusci: moongate44(at)gmail(dot)com PLEASE NO ATTACHMENTS. E-mail submissions ONLY.

I hope that all tanka poets who have their work accepted will support Moonbathing by purchasing a copy or a subscription. If Moonbathing is to survive it will need your support and I will be most grateful for it.

DONATIONS MOST WELCOME

DISCLAIMER:

Moonbathing does not assume liability for copyright infringement or failure to acknowledge previously published tanka.

 

COPIES/SUBSCRIPTIONS:

 

Subscriptions: $12 for one year (two issues) U.S. and Canada; $6 for single issue. International: $16

(two issues) $8 single issue U.S. dollars; send US cash or international M.O.—payable to Pamela A. Babusci to: Moonbathing Editor

150 Milford Street Apt. 13 Rochester, NY 14615-1810 USA

The Editor of Moonbathing is looking forward to receiving your best tanka. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Pamela A. Babusci moongate44(at)gmail(dot)com

the path of the sun

 

 

there not there

sunlight on gossamer. . .

by whose hands

are these years spun and measured,

clipped for all time?

~

your love

is the blood of sunset

seeping

through the veins

of my sky

~

 

two tanka for Svetlana:

 
butterflies

braiding the cornfield

flowers

find wings in words

follow the path of the sun

~

this hour

of struts and frets…

stirring deep

in the body of darkness

strains of a sweeter song

 

——

 

after I’m gone…

layer upon layer

of winged words

that settled

while the dust gathered

~

between stones

and crests of foam…

downriver

from the weir of this day

to bathe with dippers  

~

a beetle 

deep in the tangled core

of a field poppy…

in the tissue folds of sleep

the pollen of my dreams

~

still I hide them

once raw weals now silver-pale…

at the landfill

warblers and whitethroats

sing nature back home

~

a lone swift

between dust clouds

and blue marble…

a scalpel

in the sculptor’s hand

~

a long life

lived well…

smoke trail

a crane drifts by

the viewfinder of a dream

~

31st July – 6th August (inclusive) my 3rd set of haiku as a contributor for cycle 11, summer 2011 at DailyHaiku: http://www.dailyhaiku.org/haiku/2011-july-31

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