Tag Archives: tanka

The Nolan Anthology of Poetry, Volume II: The Modern Era

3 Nov

Nolan VIIThe Nolan Anthology of Poetry, Volume II was published by Fell Swoop in 2003.  The first Nolan Anthology of Poetry was published in 1993 by the same New Orleans publisher.  Volume II (Fell Swoop #64) The Modern Era was printed in an unspecified print run using basically the same 8.5×11 stapled binding format as the first volume though designating them as “volumes” may be a bit of overstatement as each is only twenty pages in length printed on a single side of the page.  The cover design by the author was meant to replicate the pocket poetry books of the French publisher, Gallimard under the NRF (Nouvelle Revue Française) imprint.  Volume II, as did Volume I, represents a sampling from a variety of the author’s poetry manuscript unpublished at the time.  Since then the poems in the tanka sequence Light Years have been included in a handmade limited edition chap book entitled Carved In Stone (Empty Head Press, 2013).  The Chinese style poems were published as a selection entitled Exile In Paradise (Bamboo Leaf Studio, 2009), also as a handmade limited edition.  The prose poems were included in a handmade chap book entitled Intellectual Pretensions (edition de Jacob, 2009).

Click here for The Nolan Anthology of Poetry, Volume II: The Modern Era 2003

A word about Fell Swoop magazine whose stated mission, as per Editor Reverend XJ Dailey, is to destroy contemporary American poetry: this year marks the 30th Anniversary of their fitful yet courageously tenacious low tech existence.  They (3rd person plural used advisedly) will publish their 130th issue this November.  Past featured authors and contributors to Fell Swoop magazine include Andrei Codrescu, Aram Sayroyan, Bernadette Meyer, The Clark Coolidge, Sir Thomas Weigel, Richard Martin, Camille Martin, Lady Alice Notley, and Keith Kumasen Abbott to name just a few.  As an unpretentious and somewhat anachronistic photo copy (xerographic) publication, Fell Swoop harkens back to the more innocent days of the mimeograph revolution when such prehistoric publications as Fuck You, C, Blue Suede Shoes, The End, Life of Crime, and The World roamed the humid fecund swamps of Am Po’s armpit.  Though based in New Orleans, they represent one of the last unapologetic bastions of the New York School of Poets scattered to the four (or five) corners of the poetry universe after the passing of the Grand Himself, Ted Berrigan.  Fell Swoop keeps the flame alive to light another Chesterfield.   Their post-Katrina address is Po Box 740158 New Orleans, LA 70174.  Send them a bunch of cash, in one fell swoop.

 

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Limited Edition: Random Rocks

3 Jul

Random Rocks

Haikai No Renga

By The Miner School of Haikai Poets

randrksfcRandom Rocks is a limited edition haikai no renga (linked verse) published by Bamboo Leaf Studio in 2007.  The size of the edition was linked to the number of stanzas in a kasen, a standard renga length employed by Basho and his disciples, and in the memorializing of the 36 immortal poets of Japanese literature.  Random Rocks measures 5.5x 7 (14x17cm), is hand sewn in the Japanese side stitch style, bound in heavy green chiri paper, momogami binding strips and features Japanese silk screen end papers.  The edition was divided evenly among the four haikai poets to distribute as they saw fit.                                                                                        

The Miner School of Haikai Poets have engaged in the practice of haikai no renga over a period of thirty years, written primarily through the mail and more recently, email.  They are Pat Nolan, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Michael Sowl and Maureen Owen. The Miner School’s haikai have been published in numerous magazine including Hanging Loose, Exquisite Corpse, Jack’s Magazine, Big Bridge, and Simply Haiku as well as in limited edition chapbooks and broadsides from Empty Head Press, Bamboo Leaf Studio, and Tangram Press.  Their kasen, All Ears, was included in Saints Of Hysteria, an anthology celebrating collaboration, from Soft Skull Press (2007).   

One of the unique features of Miner School haikai is that it includes a running commentary by the authors on each of their own stanzas as well as a stab at their collaborators’ links.  It functions in a way similar to commentary provided as a special features audio track on a DVD.  The introductory essay to another kasen, Bamboo Greeting, published in Simply Haiku (2008), further details some of the unconventional methods practiced by The Miner School of Haikai Poets.  

Haikai no renga is a form of renga (Japanese linked verse) practiced by Basho (1644-1694) and his disciples.  It consists of a 17 syllable verse and a 14 syllable verse provided in turn by the poets engaged in the collaboration.  In linking verses, a 31 syllable poem is produced, the latter verse of which (the 17 or the 14 syllable) will go on to join the next in the sequence to form its own unique poem, and so on until the requisite number of stanzas has been achieved.  Renga sequences can number into the hundreds.  Basho favored the economy of 36 stanzas.  Renku is diminutive for haikai no renga also known as haikai.  The more renowned Japanese verse form, haiku, is derived from the practice of amassing numerous hokku to vie for the privilege of opening a moon-viewing-sake-sipping evening of friendly literary collaborations.   Renga itself is derived from the courtly form of poetry exchanged by the aristocracy as exemplified in Lady Murasaki’s 11th Century The Tale Of Genji.  The rules of the composition for renga and haikai no renga are complicated and arcane, but like those of chess or go can be captivating and stimulating.  

For more on the intriguing subject of Japanese Linked Verse, see Earl Miner’s Japanese Linked Poetry (Princeton, 1979), Hiroaki Sato’s One Hundred Frogs (Weatherhill, 1983), and Haruo Shirane’s Traces Of Dreams (Stanford, 1998). 

A pdf facsimile of RandomRocks 2007can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Limited Edition: Untouched By Rain

3 Jun

Untouched By Rain

A Tanka Sequence

by Pat Nolan 

ubrfcvrUntouched By Rain was published in 2005 by Empty Head Press in a limited edition, lettered A through Z, signed by the author and bearing his seal, “old goat.” Each hand-made book has a unique cover, many as reproductions of  uchiwa-e, Japanese fan prints, features silk screened Japanese end papers, and is hand sewn in the Japanese four-hole side stitch binding.  The black & white illustrations accompanying the tanka represent traditional Japanese motifs such as the cherry blossom, crane, bamboo, and pine. Untouched By Rain, and a companion selection of tanka, Thin Wings, were originally made to be sold through the gift shop at the Sonoma County Museum.  Up until the gallery’s recent closing, both tanka selections were also offered through The Quicksilver Mine Company.  Less than a handful of copies of Untouched By Rain are still available.  Inquiries welcome.

presentation envelope

presentation envelope

Click to view a pdf facsimile of Untouched By Rain 2005

Tanka, meaning ‘short song,’ is an unrhymed poem with a fixed thirty-one syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.  In Westernized stanza form, it is a five line poem.   Tanka, one of the oldest of Japanese verse forms, dates back to before the 11th Century.  Tanka gained renewed popularity in the late 19th Century among radically modern young poets who brought its diction and subject matter up to date.  Historically, tanka is a precursor to renga, haikai, and haiku.  The poems in Untouched By Rain do not follow precisely the fixed syllabic count nor do they conform to many of the accepted tanka conventions but seek a synthesis and accommodation brought about by translation into a radically different language and culture. 

Limited Edition: Thin Wings

3 Sep

THIN WINGS  − A Tanka Sequence

By Pat Nolan

Thin Wings was published in the Fall of 2005 by Empty Head Press in a limited edition lettered A through Z, signed by the author and bearing his seal, “wandering like a cloud,” each with a unique cover, some as reproductions of Japanese prints in the author’s collection, silk screened Japanese end papers, and hand sewn in the Japanese four-hole side stitch style.  It is made available here as a pdf file.

Tanka ,meaning ‘short song,’ is an unrhymed poem with a fixed thirty-one syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.  In Westernized stanza form, it is a five line poem.   Tanka, one of the oldest of Japanese verse forms, dates back to before the 11th Century.  Tanka gained renewed popularity in the late 19th Century among radically modern young poets who brought its diction and subject matter up to date.  Historically, tanka is a precursor to renga, haikai, and haiku.  The poems in Thin Wings do not follow precisely the fixed syllabic count nor do they conform to many of the accepted tanka conventions but seek a synthesis and accommodation brought about by translation into a radically different language and culture.

From the introduction to Pat Nolan’s Cloud Scatter (Tangram Press, Berkeley, 1994)

Cloud Notes
Tanka originated as court poetry early in Japanese history. I would hesitate to call these poems tanka because that presumes a mastery of a complicated set of rules and conditions.  The poems. . .actually owe more to the intricate prosody of haikai no renga (known as renku or linked verse), than to this ancient form, especially in the relationship between [the split] stanzas.  There is, as a matter of fact, a renku term for a poem composed of only two links and that’s ‘tanrenga.’  As accurate as that may be, I am uneasy with that label.  ‘Tanku,’ a word of my own invention, would seem to accommodate the Japanese nomenclature (haiku, renku) but it too doesn’t suit my sense of these poems.  Ultimately, I find myself preferring tanka as the logical as well as sentimental favorite for what this kind of poem might be called.  I do so well aware that the designation is a borrowed one.

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