twelve moons: a review

I have been a little busy of late, but wanted to share the following review of twelve moons by Barry George. It first appeared in the Spring issue of Gusts 2013, but has also appeared online here.

Claire Everett’s New Tanka Collection, reviewed by Barry George

twelve moons by Claire Everett. Introduction by David Terelinck. Perfect bound; 76 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4781539-5-5. $14.75 US. Available at https://www.createspace.com/3923071.

What is distinctive about Claire Everett’s twelve moons is that her tanka do not merely juxtapose the natural and personal worlds; they interfuse the two.

passing sun
what of me is flame
taking hold
and what of me is timeless
like this rock, briefly warm?

The poet compares herself directly to the images of nature; she is the sun’s flame and the rock. The metaphor is woven into all five lines of the tanka. Indeed, a transmutation is at work, as the following makes explicit:

transformed
by the breath of your love
I am no longer sand
scattered to the wind
but the beauty of blown glass

In other cases, the interconnection between the poet and nature involves several images.

and when my thoughts
have followed the rosewood grain
of sunset
swirling dark from the eaves
pipistrelles

Thoughts that become one with the texture of the fading sky, and then begin to focus on a darker motion around the eves, suddenly take shape – as bats.

Or, in the poet’s contemplation, prompted by a similarity in shape, one image might morph into an entirely different one.

by candlelight
watching incense twist and curl
as shadow
the double helix uncoils,
the illness passed down the line

Closely allied with this interfusion of thought and images is the the intermingling of senses, or synesthesia, which Everett sometimes employs.

in silence
deeper than the scent
of pine
we listen
for the eyes of the deer

Here sound, smell, and silence work both as separate senses and as aspects of one combined perception.

As the title suggests, twelve moons, is organized seasonally. Each individual tanka takes on added resonance as it is grouped under one of the traditional names for the twelve full moons. The range of subjects includes motherhood, marriage, love, discord, disappointment, injury, illness, and mourning. Time is a persistent theme.

son of mine
what’s done is done…
seed by seed, I’d breathe
back the dandelion clock,
place its stem in your hand

The foregoing poem also exemplifies the tension Everett achieves with the sounds, rhythms, and pacing of words. So too does this one:

no greater peace
than the deep green
silence of the trees
when the breeze
has moved on

Note the long “e” sounds in every line but the last one­­­ – when the (long-e) breeze has moved on – as well as the way changes of pace and even syncopation are used to advantage.

This is a collection to be savored as much for the richness of its imagery as for its finely crafted form. For all the intricacy implicit in their design, the tanka in twelve moons remind us that the best poetry often seems disarmingly and marvelously simple.

after our walk
with such tenderness
you brushed
the clouds
out of my hair

The Reviewer:
Barry George’s haiku and tanka have been published in leading journals and anthologies. His essay, “Shiki the Tanka Poet,” appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle, and poems from Wrecking Ball and Other Urban Haiku, were nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives and teaches in Philadelphia.

from another world

 

in the hills at dawn

the feel of earth with spring

in its fuse…

what it is to lie

with my head on your chest

 

~

 

they say, when dying

our hearing is the last

sense to fade…

love, speak my name and I’ll fall

like frost through yellow leaves

 

~

 

from another world

a hint of patchouli…

you’re back

from your dawn meditation

warming your hands in my dream

 

GUSTS Contemporary Tanka , number 15, spring/summer 2012

 

~

 

 

not just today…

 

 

your fingers trace

the shape of me…

signed and countersigned

two swallows

make the sky their own

 

Atlas Poetica 10 summer 2011

~

a taste

of infinity

this night with you…

tilt my face and watch me fall

through a sky of snowflakes

 

Moonbathing, a journal of women’s tanka, Fall/Winter 2011-2011

~

of red and gold

every shade under the sun —

with you my heart

is an English autumn,

the scents of hearth and home

 

BUTTERFLY AWAY, Magnapoets Anthology 3, 2011

~

what you mean to me…

a solitary swift

finds a window of blue

and the sky tilts

on its axis

 

Gusts 14, fall/winter 2011 

~

transformed

by the breath of your love

I am no longer sand

scattered to the wind

but the beauty of blown glass

 

BUTTERFLY AWAY, Magnapoets Anthology 3 2011

~

until, my love

our days have the ink

of autumn

drying in their veins…

ten thousand leaves in the sun

 

Simply Haiku, 8th Anniversary edition 2011

~

the path of the sun …

your lips on my shoulder

in hip-high grasses

a day empties

into the wind

 

A Hundred Gourds 1:1 December 2011

Romance Under a Waning Moon

~

honeymoon…

a roe deer sips the edge

of sunrise

 

Simply Haiku, 2011

 

Apologies for reposting some of the poems here…one or two are new to this blog.  Love…it’s not just for one day.

I love you, my husband.

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

 

 

 

~

 

memories of you

poised to catch me unawares…

beneath frozen ground

the sprung traps

of crocuses and snowdrops

GUSTS #13 spring 2011

~

will I ever find

the words for this grief…?

still I seek

the coolness of your shadow,

the ink wells of rock pools

GUSTS #13 spring 2011

~

and now

may the elements be still…

this rolling stone

settles in the niche of you

to gather moss

GUSTS #13 spring 2011

~

in the apple blossom

I watched a century

come and go…

the silken pose

of a white butterfly

~

I did not know

the path would be so hard

until I joined her…

as the sun slips between the hills

I take my mother’s hand

~

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