Sunday, October 17, 2010

J. Zimmerman - Three Questions (Tanka)

J. Zimmerman's poems have been published internationally (including Australia and Germany). She is co-editor & contributor for "Poetry at Ariadne's Web".  Currently she lives along the west coast of North America.

She writes:

I didn't send my same image as for the Haiku Three Questions.

That's because I hope you can use the photo attached (with permission of the artist) showing that one of my tanka (the second one below) is graffitied on a wheel at the world famous Cadillac Ranch Graffiti Installation -- calligraphy and photography by Liz Davis.

1) Why do you write tanka?

Tanka combine the passion of lyric poetry with the clarity and the natural world of haiku. While I've attempted lyric poetry for decades, I only began to write tanka three years ago, after tanka poet Mariko Kitakubo's presentation at Asilomar (2007 YT Retreat) showed me the rhythm of tanka.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy all forms, but especially works that are brief, multilayered, and musical. The work of Kay Ryan is particularly great in these aspects. I am also devoted to the sonnet.

3) Of the many wonderful tanka you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?

The first of my current favorites was my first tanka ever published -- and it was honored with being selected as a moonset Editor's Choice:

Slowly rising tide
the harbor seal lifts its tail
for every swell —
I too adjust my posture
with each of my friend's complaints.

[First published in moonset Spring/Summer 2008; editor anya.]

Valentine's dusk
rosy on the breaking waves —
the seaside redhead
glides her pink Cadillac
past each undressing surfer.

[First published in Ribbons 2009 Summer issue (5.2); editor David Bacharach.]

This is a favorite in part because it was written at the ocean and then calligraphied and photographed two thousand miles away on a wheel at the world famous Cadillac Ranch Graffiti Installation near Amarillo, TX, by Liz Davis (calligraphy and photo (c) Liz Davis 2009-2010)). Her artist's note says:

Your work is immortalized at Cadillac Ranch, on the right rear tire of the lead car. Your tanka reads clockwise on the pink part of the tire, beginning at the southwest. It runs the length of the area just inside the cutout. I was happy to find this lovely pink canvas. I also liked the fact that the tire still rotates so the tanka spins. Here is a partial close-up, showing your 'signature' and that of your amanuensis:

There were kids from every country going wild with joy because THIS is a venue where spray painting is encouraged. It was a little dicey because the wind was blowing hard and I wanted to keep upwind of the flying paint :-)

I think your tanka is likely to survive longer than most of the casual messages because it lives on a piece of the car that doesn't make a good canvas for an 8-year-old. Your work will fade into spray-paint memory when an artist comes along who wants to re-do the total look of that wheel.

This is a favorite because (despite its being austere and its use of the sometimes-taboo word "souls") it was selected by the Ribbons' editor for commentary, praise, and reprinting on the Ribbons' Back Cover:

Without coat or gloves
I walk into clouds and tears
walk on ash
on cremated bones
on the grit of souls

[First published in Ribbons 2009 Winter issue (5.4); editor David Bacharach.]

As always, it's hard to pick just three favorites: the rest of my favorites are at:

Curtis, thank you so much for Tobacco Road and for all that you do to inform and delight us.

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 J answered. You must be a published poet to participate.

1 comment:

Pris said...

Absolutely stunning tanka! Thanks for posting these. I've written haiku for years and only recently have tried my hand at tanka, with one just accepted in Ribbons. These touch my heart, inspire me onward!