Sunday, May 9, 2010

Peggy Heinrich - Three Questions (Tanka)

The Haiku - Three Questions queue finally ran dry this week. Just as I was about to scramble for something to post for my Sunday readers, my inbox alerted me to a message received from, well, an angel coming to my rescue. Peggy Heinrich, who participated in Haiku - Three Questions nearly two years ago, offers her thoughts in this addition to Tanka - Three Questions.

Peggy Heinrich's haiku have appeared in almost every haiku journal here and in Japan. Peeling an Orange, her collection of haiku, published recently by Modern English Tanka Press, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her mini-chapbook, A Patch of Grass, was published by High/Coo Press. Awards include HSA's Henderson Award and top prize in last year's Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum English Haiku Contest. In the last ten years, her tanka have been published by American Tanka, bottle rockets and other leading tanka journals.

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 . . . .
winter sun

Tanka Café Newsletter 9/04
A Minefield of Etceteras, 2005
moonset, June 2007 – republished

old home movies
Mother still dancing
the Charleston—
day-long snow
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.


marty45 said...

Your work is beautiful Great to see Tanka here

snowbird said...

Hi, Peggy, It's so good to hear from you again. I'll be taking a couple of copies of your book "A Minefield of Etceteras" with me to The Haiku Circle in June.
I'm surprised about the "alone" tanka...can't imagine you alone for one moment... :-)