Tanka is the modern name for a short five line 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 in two stanzas. 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.
Praise for the thousand marvels of every moment
“Pointing at the moon, the finger of the poet directs the reader to the object at hand, whether it be battered wisteria, her long neck, the black cat, or the poet ‘right in the middle of scribble.’ Every day life heightened in the moment ‘not forever now/the cool green leaves’” —Lucille Friesen, poet
“Pat Nolan’s new collection of short poems the thousand marvels of every moment is a late harvest wonder. Distilled in the key of tanka, these poems make sparks out of crumpled paper & ‘fine white rain.’ No better description of the book than from within:
through the particle haze dance
joy and marvel of the mind”
—Eric Johnson, poet, master printer
“Pat Nolan explains, in introducing the thousand marvels of every moment that tanka historically originated in call and response agricultural chants in long ago Japan. In Nolan’s modern tanka-like poems, the echoing is within the self, or between the self and the immediate world: the yard, the kitchen, the coffee cup, the coastal hills. Words are precise and vivid. Dream transitions suggest feelings and insights. Points of view shift. In ‘TV on too loud again’ the opening stanza seems to be listening to the neighborhood from within Nolan’s house, but in the final lines reverse:
I am a portrait in a window
the garden looks on into
Processes of life are very subtle reverberations in this finely wrought collection of modern tanka.”
—Ann Erickson, poet, painter
“When I was a little kid, we had a summer cabin on an inlet of south Puget Sound. By a dirt path near our place was a salmonberry bush. It must have been the end of June when I found it because it was full of ripe yellow-orange berries. I harvested the bush in a frenzy, filling up a big bowl, and ate its sweet fruit on a sunny beach. It was my first wild berry feast. Pat Nolan’s new book of tanka, the thousand marvels of every moment, brought back this tasty memory. Reading his beautifully crafted little poems is like picking berries from a bush.”
—Norman Schaefer, poet, author of Fool’s Gold and Lower Putah Song
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. 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.