Tag Archives: haikai no renga

Why Gift Edition?

10 Nov

the thousand marvels of every moment
a tanka collection
by pat nolan

Fall 2018, ISBN 9780984031078, 7×5 inches, 124 pages, $16

~The Gift Edition~

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Facing the thousand marvels

of every moment

nothing comes to mind

I pick up the broom

to collect my thoughts

 

Why “Gift” Edition?

As a gift the thousand marvels of every moment is ephemeral and accessible, as undemanding as a tweet yet profound and universal as a meme, not only clever and entertaining but thought provoking as well. At a sleek 7×5 inches, a little larger than a smart phone, it fits easily in the hand like an oversize postcard, but as a book it is ultimately “flippable,” meaning that it is as easy to browse as scrolling through social media.  Its resonant design with trompe l’oeil stitching and decorative endpapers bestows on the book-as-gift a complimentary esthetic that is painless, instant, and memorable—as gifts should be.  An extra incentive for earth conscious gift purchasing is that the text of the thousand marvels of every moment is printed on 100% PCW (post consumer waste) at a printing plant in Minnesota operating on wind power.  Get one for yourself, buy one for a friend.

 

On the phone

outside a butterfly settles

on a leaf

her voice light

shimmering on thin wings

 

Tanka is the modern name for a short poem known throughout the history of Japanese literature as a waka.  The short poems of the thousand marvels of every moment are composed of five lines.  The first stanza balances on the second, sometimes precariously, to pose a distinguishing match. The break between stanzas acts as a gap for synaptic sparks to jump. It also emphasizes its call and response origins serving as a binary exchange of verbal energy.  The two last lines in these poems tend to resolve them either as parallel breaths or as a single run-on semantic declaration.

 

The part of myself

I tend to deny leaks out

the tip of this pen

please say “I love you”

with a neon sign

 

Pat Nolan has long been an avid student of Asian culture, particularly Japanese and Chinese poetry. He published Poetry For Sale (2015), a selection of haikai no renga (Japanese linked verse) written with a number of poets including Maureen Owen, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, and Sandy Berrigan.  His Chinese themed poems were published as Exile In Paradise in 2017. The poems of the thousand marvels of every moment have appeared in a variety of poetry magazines as well as in collections of privately issued handmade limited editions of tanka that include Thin Wings (2004), Untouched By Rain (2005), and Carved In Stone (2013).  One notable exception is the beautifully realized Cloud Scatter (1994) in an exquisite letterpress edition of 160 copies from Jerry Reddan’s Tangram Press.  Nolan is also the author of two novels, an online serial fiction, and numerous poetry books.  So Much—Handwritten Typewriter—Selected Poems Volume I, 1969-1989, was published in the spring of 2018.

 

Seconds whiled away

or willed away all the same

original instance

desire’s rhetorical question

“how do I get more?”

 

 


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The Thousand Marvels. . . . Free Shipping

17 Oct

the thousand marvels of every moment
a tanka collection
by pat nolan

Fall 2018, 124 pages, $16

Order Now * Get Free Shipping
(offer good through December 31, 2018)

One In A Thousand

Tanka is the modern name for a short poem known throughout the history of Japanese literature as a waka. The pre-modern word, waka, finds its source in ancient oral tradition of call and response agricultural chants as well as those accompanying communal efforts in indigenous Japanese villages.  In its lineated form, the tanka consists of five lines.  In its non-lineated form, the tanka has the syllabic rhythm or pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. 

The courtly love culture of medieval Japan adapted the folk tradition as the exchange of verse between courtiers requiring a cap or response to bring the poem to a subtle esoteric often erotic resolution. Eventually the practice transformed into a unified singular verse, the waka, a poem of two minds as the literary affectation of one mind.


The short poems of the thousand marvels of every moment are composed of five lines.  They also take into consideration the 5-7-5-7-7 patterns as a phonetic rhythm although they do not necessarily conform to the syllabic count.  The succinct directness required of the form lends itself to this rhythm. The first stanza balances on the second, sometimes precariously, to pose a distinguishing match. The break between stanzas acts as a kind of caesura, a gap for synaptic sparks to jump.  It also emphasizes its call and response origins serving as a binary exchange of verbal energy.  The two last lines in these poems tend to resolve them either as parallel breaths or as a single run-on semantic declaration.  Sometimes they function as a pedestal for the preceding stanza, the bass line for its melodic pretext, sometimes as a bowl or receptacle to contain the original intent, or as a decorative garnish to the entrée (think California cuisine), and sometimes at its most basic, the response to the call.


I hesitate to name the poems in this collection tanka as that would presume the mastery of a complicated set of rules and conditions.  They do not observe many of the accepted tanka conventions although they do seek a synthesis and accommodation brought about by translation into a radically different language and culture.  The poems actually owe their method more to the intricate multi-voiced play of a related Japanese verse form, haikai no renga, also known as renku or linked verse.  That similarity is especially true in the relationship between stanzas or the rhythms of 5-7-5 -7-7.  There is, in fact, a term for a linked poem composed of only two stanzas, tanrenga.  As accurate as that may be I am uncomfortable with the label. Tanku, a word of my own devising, would seem to accommodate the Japanese nomenclature (haiku, hokku, renku) but still doesn’t fit my sense of the poems.  Ultimately I find myself preferring tanka as the logical and sentimental favorite of what this type of poem might be called. I do so well aware that the designation is a borrowed one.

(from the introduction to the thousand marvels of every moment)


 

from the thousand marvels of every moment

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So Much, Selected Poem, 1969-1989
“Descriptions of nature so translucent we can only marvel how he weaves us into them, onward, around that eternal share of misfortune, bitter realization, and expectations gone wrong. This is Nolan’s secret power.  He engages us in magical transformation and will not let us look away.”
—Maureen Owen, author of Erosion’s Pull and Edges of Water

 

Exile In Paradise
“Reading these poems, I feel like I’m walking down a village lane somewhere in China, beyond the reach of the emperor’s minions, and every door I walk by, someone invites me in for a cup of wine. At this rate, I don’t think I’ll ever make it out of here, and why should I?”
—Bill Porter (Red Pine), translator, author of Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets from the Past

 

Poetry For Sale
Poetry For Sale is a fantastic collection.  Anyone interested in the interaction between Japanese and English poetry needs this book.  And anyone interested in renga should definitely get it.  It is an immensely pleasing collection: entertaining, surprising, sometimes sharp and witty, sometimes introspective, sometimes descriptive, the renga unfold with great skill and elegance.”
 —Jim Wilson,  author of Microcosmos, The Art Of The Solo Renga (Sebastopol, 2014)

 

Your Name Here
“The poems glow with insight and wit as they simply monitor the flow of a mind steeped in Chinese poetry, bebop, the Russian River, the beats, the birds, Heraclitus. . . .  [Nolan] in his own words, is an alphabet male.  And despite the breadth of his learning and thought, is always just talking from right here.  It’s a hell of a book.”
—Eric Johnson, poet and master printer at Iota Press

 

Hello Life
“Reading Gail King has always been one of my great poetry pleasures. Her inimitable voice narrates the world with humor and tenderness, a world of beauty and occasional sorrow. Her work has healing effects.”
—Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator and author of So Recently Rent A World

 

 

The Last Resort
“Pat Nolan’s The Last Resort puts his gun in the right hands–a woman’s–with authority and harmful intent.  Get ready to hit the deck!”
Barry Gifford, author of Imagining Paradise and Wild At Heart

 

 

On The Road To Las Cruces
On the Road to Las Cruces takes us on a twilight journey through frontier history.  Nolan’s adroit and stylish prose intertwines death, betrayal, greed and conspiracy as each claims its victims.”
Keith Abbott, author of Downstream From Trout Fishing In America

 

 


 

 

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Also available through our partnership with
Bamboo Leaf Studio
Linoleum Block Prints
from the Smoking Poets series

and the Faux Koan series by Pat Nolan

Order two or more prints
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and receive a bonus broadside of
the limited edition
Dylan Thomas print accompanied by Pat Nolan’s
Advice To A Young Poet
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Faux Koans and Borderline Haiga

26 Sep

Faux Koans and Borderline Haiga

Selected Prints by Pat Nolan

mustardseedIn traditional Chinese painting the relationship between language and the visual appear naturally equivalent because both are represented with the same medium, ink and brush. This pictorial art stems from the single hand designing the original, and the aesthetics behind the strokes used to inscribe an ideogram are the same as those used to denote the leaves of a tree, roiling waters, and the bulk of an escarpment. Because of the unique pictorial character of the ideogram, it occupies the picture plane as an integral part of the composition. A poem or homily is supported by the visual element as the depiction is fixed by its semantic component. Consequently the representations accompany each other as a symbiosis of connotation. The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, a seventeenth century Chinese handbook of brush and ink examples, is a catalog of such a standardization of technique.

It is not uncommon for the ideogram to be the sole presence of an brush and ink composition, its innate pictorial quality suggestive of an elemental nature.  As well, the fog obscured peaks of a landscape hint at unspoken transcendence.  The art of ink and brush, word and picture, has currency in most Asian cultures, certainly not the least in that of Japan’s where it is widely practiced and appreciated.

As with any inspiring piece of art there is the desire to draw attention to the uniqueness of its creativity and to make it available to a wider audience through mechanical means no matter how primitive. Japanese artists popularized the reproduction of this particular aesthetic of word and image through their uniquely perfected development of relief printing.

everytimeRelief printing was derived from rubbings made on paper or cloth of the inscriptions and images on the tombs of ancient rulers and holy men.  The idea of generating an image or an image of a text through the use of charcoal or ink from a unique template is genius in all its natural simplicity. The worthy homilies of great minds were carved in stone for anyone who wished to view them.  Those who wanted to be reminded of these applicable sayings and possess them in a material way resorted to reproducing them on a portable medium. It wasn’t a large leap from tombs and steles to planks of wood inscribed with characters and representations of a natural aspect, often suggested by the grain of the wood itself. The carved relief image slathered with soot based ink allowed for the reproduction of editions to benefit a literate and appreciative culture.

A few thousand years later the aesthetics of the original practice of relief printing has undergone profound change in that its objective is primarily artistic, subject to the decadence of values and their renewal as objets d’art. For that reason, something might be designated a faux koan if its original purpose as a paradoxical form used to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and enter into sudden intuitive enlightenment has been parodied.  Or it can be termed a borderline haiga if the essential spontaneity of the haikai spirit is painstakingly reproduced through a series of planned mechanical steps.

iwokePat Nolan came to printmaking through an avid interest in Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, amassing in the process a large collection of monographs, museum catalogs, and anthology representations of floating world artists who were popular in Japan in the 18th to the late 19th century. The subdued palette of basic colors reminded him of the Sunday funny papers and comic books that were his consuming interest as a youngster. Japanese prints of that era, in their design and presentation, were the epitome of the illustrator’s art, sophisticated and quite modern for their time and culture.  As Nolan learned more about the art of Japanese printmaking he began to appreciate 20th Century Japanese print artists and the powerful simplicity of their black and white images.  Print artists such as Munakata Shikō, Un’ichi Hiratsuka, and Okuyama Gihachiro seemed to embody the modern élan while maintaining their deep connection with tradition.  Nolan’s obsession with the Japanese prints was kicked up a notch when he began collecting affordable reproductions of the Edo masters as well as original work by contemporary artists.

Inevitably, the next level for Nolan was to try his hand at making prints of his own. He had better luck carving linoleum blocks than he did with wood, and chose the path of least resistance. He decided to work with and/or adapt the Japanese motifs with which he had become so familiar, applying the history and techniques he had studied.

kicked“I had the idea of making Buddhist inspired prints featuring what I call faux koans (“Kicked a clump of dirt—my return address” or “The more you know the more you know”) since historically some of the earliest Japanese prints were devotional depictions of Buddhist saints or precepts sold to pilgrims traveling to various shrines and temples. They are faux koans in the sense that they imply an ironic intent and emphasize mystification rather than clarification. I was also particularly impressed by the seemingly effortless and spontaneous prints produced by contemporary artist Kan Kozaki working in the spirit of Munakata, and whose techniques I sought to appropriate. Many of Kozaki’s prints feature a haiku by the 20th Century haiku poet Santoka which also encouraged me to feature language with my images.”

Nolan’s prints emphasize the contrast of black and white, and are printed with water soluble ink on unbleached mulberry washi, allowing the uncarved portions of the block define the picture plane. The blocks are printed by hand using a variety of barens and multiple inkings.  Water color is sometimes added to the verso of some prints while stencils and stamp inks are used to achieve subtle effects on others.



The linoleum block prints presented by Bamboo Leaf Studio are made available in partnership with Nualláin House, Publishers. To purchase a print please go to the How To Order tab on the menu bar for payment options.  Shipping is included with each purchase.


Publisher’s Note: Ambitions are often put in perspective with the passage of time.  The goal of publishing Pat Nolan’s satirical novel, Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius in 2016 will unfortunately be unmet due to a number of considerations, not the least of which is financial.  In the meantime, installments continue to be published at odetosunset.com and the entire novel posted thus far is available in manuscript form for anyone suitably idle and curious to peruse. OTS bannermonthlink

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ontheroadfront300ON THE ROAD TO LAS CRUCES; Being A Novel Account of The Last Day In The Life of A Legendary Western Lawman
by Pat Nolan

 Pat Nolan’s first published novel, On The Road To Last Cruces; Being A Novel Account of The Last Day In The Life of A Legendary Western Lawman is the story of youthful bravado and an old man’s regret, and as much a dusty tale of buffalo hunts and shoot-outs as a politically driven “whodunit.”  November 2011 ~ 154 pages

 

THE LAST RESORT
A Lee Malone Adventure
by Pat Nolan

Pat Nolan has written a fast paced, tongue-in-cheek, pun filled comedy of errors, misunderstandings, and faux intuition in the mode of a 1930’s pulp thriller.  Instead of the typical splinter-jawed, broken nosed, tobacco breathed tough guy hero, Nolan upends the stereotype by introducing a gorgeous internationally famous former fashion model whose super power is her beauty.
August 2012~ 212 pages

 

 

HELLO LIFE
Poems by Gail King 

The poems of Hello Life achieve their freshness in the particularity of experience. The poet surrenders herself to the moment and tenders that subtle cognition as a delighted welcome to life. The ease of her expression in dealing with the everyday communicates an uncommon wisdom. The poems present, through playful understatement and sly humor, the immediacy of spontaneous impressions.
December 2013  ~  64 pages

 

 

 

Your Name Here
New Poems
by Pat Nolan 

The poems in Your Name Here revolve around that quantum axis with seemingly random discontinuities that do not pin down meaning but are left to mean themselves. Nolan’s poetry enacts a sub-vocal monologue that is like the murmur of cosmic background radiation, noticeable only in its cessation or as pauses when the mind registers the sum of discrete moments in an instant.  November 2014 ~ 80 pages

 

Poetry For Sale
Haikai no Renga (Linked Poetry)

Introduction by Pat Nolan
The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia.  In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.  October 2015 ~ 152 pages

Poetry For Sale Now Available!

17 Sep

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P4sale15tjPoetry For Sale

Haikai No Renga (linked poetry)
Introduction by Pat Nolan
Haikai no Renga with
Keith Kumasen Abbott,
Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym,
Steven Lavoie, 
Joen Eshima Moore,
Maureen Owen, 
Michael Sowl,
and John Veglia
.

The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia. This collection of linked poetry presents a fascinating excursion in comparative literature by a cross-section of exceptional, widely-published American poets.  What these poets bring to the collaborative linking of stanzas is a visceral sense of the poetic that transcends two disparate languages and the gap of centuries. In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.

October 2015 ~ 152 pages ~ $16 ~ paper ~ ISBN978-0-9840310-4-7

click on the How To Order tab for more information


from HARDLY STRICTLY HAIKAI
—An Introduction—

Haikai no Renga is collaborative poetry of Japanese origin normally written by two or more poets linking stanzas of 17 syllables and 14 syllables according to specific rules governing the relationship between stanzas.  Haikai collaboration can be as complex as chess, as multi-dimensional as go, and as fast-paced and entertaining as dominoes.  It is as much about the interaction of the poets as it is about what gets written.  The forward progress of its improvisation is akin to that of a tight jazz combo. Haikai composition has also been compared to montage in experimental film where the discontinuity of images and vectors achieves an integral non-narrative expression.

Haikai no renga is known variously as renga, haikai, renku, and linked poetry.  Generally the term renga is applied to an older, more traditional style of linking poetry practiced by the aristocracy and the upper echelon of medieval Japanese society.  Haikai no renga means “non-standard renga” though it has often been translated as “mongrel” or “dog renga” which places it in the literary hierarchy as common entertainment.

In the introduction to her seminal study of Matsuo Basho’s haikai no renga, Monkey’s Raincoat (Grossinger/Mushinsha, 1973), Dr. Maeda Cana offers a further explication of the word haikai.  “The main characteristics of the haikai are partly discernible in the kanji or Chinese characters which make up the words haikai and renku: hai denotes fun, play, humor, and also actor or actress, and kai friendly exchange of words; ren represents a number of carriages passing along a road one after another and has the meaning of continuing to completion while ku is expressive of the rhythmic changes in speech and denotes end or stop.”

Renku is a literary game of high seriousness valuing cooperation and rewarding intelligence as well as intuition.  A poet’s erudition and sense of language are called upon to clear paths and build bridges that will meander through the landscape of a literary garden.  Its cooperative result, a balance of unpredictable language gestures as insubstantial as smoke but possessed of a palpable humanity, is what is important.  The echo of the response, its relationship to the previous stanza, and how it extends its meaning, poignantly or allusively, is the esthetic ground for this kind of poetry.  The linking process, in renga, and in haikai, allows a sequence whose subtle oscillation of playfulness and gravity walk the tightrope of language’s built-in ambiguities.

“Generally speaking, haikai is steeped in the wit and banter” as Dr. Cana explains, and “it has a brilliance that shocks.  Such brilliance is continual and amazes. . .at every turn.”  Poets are under pressure to produce the unpredictable so that the possibilities of cleverness are continually exploited at a tempo that is swift and witty.  The haikai poets of old delighted in word play, literary allusions, double entendres as well as displays of authentic sensibility. The completed renku is as much a certificate of cooperation as it is a multi-page poem and a sequence of short poems.  Its literary value is in its effervescent spontaneity and transitory nature, a quality much appreciated by the Japanese.

renku sheet1

 

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