Her longer poems have appeared in many small magazines and university press and in her collection, A Minefield of Etceteras (iUniverse, 2006).
1) Why do you write tanka?
I had been writing haiku for years and had never heard of tanka until they began to surface a few decades ago. To learn more about the form, I studied the anthology Modern Japanese Tanka, edited and translated by Makoto Ueda and The Tanka Anthology, edited by Michael McClintock, Pamela Miller Ness and Jim Kacian. Reading the Ueda anthology, I was particularly drawn to Ishikawa Takuboku's tanka and later discovered Carl Sesar’s wonderful translations of Takubuku's work in Poems to Eat. I was drawn to tanka's offer of a chance to be more expansive and subjective than in haiku and after several attempts, I was hooked.
I was a charter member of Tanka Society of America and participated in a wonderful workshop organized by Pamela Miller Ness that met in New York’s Grand Central Station. The workshop helped me differentiate the essence of haiku from tanka, leading me to write an article on the subject, which I presented at a meeting of the Haiku Society of America's New York group.
When an idea for a poem is stirring in my head, I often find the five lines of a tanka offer me the best way to express it.
2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
Longer poems in free verse, where I can call up many details and write until I surprise myself. Sestina, one of the forms in which the rules lead to exciting discoveries. Haiku, as I’ve mentioned above.
3) Of the many wonderful tanka you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?
summer clouds —
from across the room
once, then again
the hollow sound
of the Indian drum
Tanka Café, TSA Newsletter V.4, No.4 12/03
Posted on TSA website as example of material from Tanka Café
A Minefield of Etceteras by Peggy Heinrich, 2005
for the first time
I find myself
and yet . . . .
Tanka Café Newsletter 9/04
A Minefield of Etceteras, 2005
moonset, June 2007 – republished
old home movies
Mother still dancing
fogs the window
1st prize, moonset – Nov. 07
reprinted Ash Moon Anthology on aging 2008
If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Peggy answered. You must be a published poet to participate.