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A Chance to Read . . . from Skylark 5:1, Summer 2017
The Alchemy of Friendship
A Review of A Shared Umbrella by Beverley George & David Terelinck by Jenny Ward Angyal, Articles & Reviews Editor
Eucalypt, Pearl Beach, NSW, Australia, 2016, 75 pages, perfect bound paperback, 5.8” x 8.25”, Introduction by Michael Dylan Welch, Afterword by Kiyoko Ogawa. ISBN 9780994367013. AUD $16 in Australia; AUD $18/NZD $20 in New Zealand; AUD $20/USD $16 in USA, UK & worldwide (all prices incl. postage) via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
blending shiraz and cabernet in oak the alchemy of the gifts produced by our long friendship ~ from ‘Harmonies’
The friendship of Australian tanka poets Beverley George andDavid Terelinck has produced many gifts over the decade of their collaboration. The present volume draws together under a single umbrella all of their responsive writings to date: 23 ‘journeys,’ including five previously unpublished pieces. Here are ten collaborative tanka sequences of 5 to 14 tanka each, including one sequence, ‘Converging Worlds,’ in which each individual tanka is a joint composition. The collection also includes 13 rengay, each composed of six two- or three-line haiku-like verses, which, in combination, suggest five-line tanka. The poets seem to have explored every possible way of joining their two voices.
thoughts tangle, willow fronds in wind . . . we must dream alone this constant echo of lessons not quite learned ~from ‘Converging Worlds’
Each of us must dream alone, yes—but thoughts tangle and voices echo; worlds converge and something new emerges, something larger than our private dreams.
In the case of DavidTerelinck & Beverley George, their two voices mingle to create something unusual: collaborative literary fiction. There is, of course, an element of fiction in many tanka, and more so in many tanka prose pieces that blur the line with flash fiction. And it is not unusual, in collaborative tanka sequences, for the poets’ voices to blend into a single voice, which must necessarily be a kind of fiction. More than the presence of fictional elements in tanka, collaborative fiction composed by more than one author is somewhat unusual in any genre. But in A Shared Umbrella, the two poets often speak with the voices of a pair of fictional lovers. In their acknowledgements, both poets offer warm thanks to their own respective real-life partners; yet many of the exchanges in these pages carry more than a hint of eros, as in the long tradition of waka exchanged between lovers. Here is a pair of responsive tanka from the sequence ‘Whisky and Smoke’:
the scent of you has almost faded from the pillow. . . I know now why women fall in love with the moon
I press my face into your discarded robe bathroom steam carries a faint trace of your aftershave
The pair beautifully illustrates the way in which the poets respond to each other’s verses while moving in new directions. We go from a lover’s lingering scent on a pillow to a face pressed into a lover’s bathrobe . . . from falling in love with the moon to the fragrance of rising steam. Steam, with its suggestion of passion, arises again in these verses from the rengay ‘Our Mingled Breath’:
it’s only the water that’s beginning to cool . . .
in bathroom steam it lingers our mingled breath
Remove the space and these two separate rengay verses could easily be read as a single tanka. By creating two separate fictional voices engaged in dialogue, the poets have woven a richly textured literary fabric that continues the romantic tradition of Japanese waka:
reading aloud from a book of T’ang poems-- I never dreamed my lover and spouse . . .would not be one ~ from ‘Love in Many Guises’
Love does indeed come in many guises, philia as well as eros, and the poets celebrate both. Friend or lover, we sometimes meet a person who seems so instantly simpatico that we experience the eerie feeling of having known him or her all our life, a feeling captured in this tanka:
snap crackle and pop my grandmother’s hand steady on the milk jug-- childhoods lived in parallel are unseen threads that bind us ~ from ‘Unseen Threads’
One can imagine recent acquaintances discovering the deep common ground of ‘childhoods lived in parallel.’ The poems in this volume trace the many unseen threads, winding from childhood to old age, that bind human beings into intimate relationships of every kind. The poets rejoice in the ways that friendship can lead one into uncharted territory, opening new horizons:
who knows where such thoughts and words will lead-- all the places we never would have reached but for travelling in tandem
side by side in the wooden boat through Mogami Gorge the ferryman’s ancient chant tugs us to new dimensions ~from ‘Travelling in Tandem'
The thoughts and words shared between the poets have, of course, led to the creation of these 23 collaborative poems that otherwise would not have existed. Travelling in tandem, listening to an ancient chant—poetry—they explore new dimensions of relationship, of time, of memory:
never able to discard that crazy hat you bought me
rummage sale-- how cheaply we priced those memories . . . ~from ‘Snapshot’
A poignant sense of loss and regret is expressed in the second verse, but the act of writing seeks to capture and cherish ‘those memories’ rather than sell them cheap. Among these pages, memories are held dear, a stay against the swiftness of time.
dreams harboured or destroyed persist swifter than chimes on stilling air our fragile days slip past ~from ‘In the Drawer’
As our fragile days slip past, dreams persist, and so do abiding love and friendship, which anchor and guide us as we navigate our lives. Through their many-faceted explorations of human intimacy in all its forms, David Terelinck and Beverley George celebrate the mysterious alchemy of friendship and the joys of travelling under a shared umbrella.
charting a friendship that’s never lost its way
each day a book, a cup, a pen you gave me cradled in my hand ~from ‘A Shared Umbrella’
Earth: Our Common Ground published!
April 2017, just ahead of Earth Day on the 22nd, Skylark's first anthology Earth: Our Common Ground is now available.
Earth: Our Common Ground has its roots in the momentous decision made by North Yorkshire County Councillors in May 2016 to approve a bid by Third Energy to extract shale gas at a site near Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, an area in the timeless North Yorkshire Moors . . .
Public outcry is a way of life these days; a domino-rally that cascades across the globe. In our millions, we are speaking out in defense of Earth, desperate to defend her against The Man . . .
Featuring the work of over 100 poets, this Song of Short Songs "is a skein of love, longing and loss, pleasure and pain, despair and wonder -- for all of earth-kind, be they termite beings, jaguar beings, rock beings, tree beings, or human beings . . ." (Adapted from the Foreword by Claire Everett).
*25% of any profits will be donated to frackfreeryedale.org as we continue to fight fracking here in the UK.
Earth: Our Common Ground An Anthology of Tanka/ Skylark Publishing
Call for Submissions: Please share widely.
The Poetry of earth is never dead ~John Keats
Never has it felt more appropriate to announce this submission call for tanka on the subject of ‘Earth: Our Common Ground’ for an anthology slated for publication towards the end of 2016. In the light of the Planning Committee of North Yorkshire County Council voting yes to Third Energy’s proposal to begin fracking in Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, it has brought home to me even more how tenuous our foothold is on this beautiful planet that asks nothing of us even as we make constant demands of its energy and resources. And when the time comes, and enough is enough, Earth will go on without us. It has been often said, we don’t merely inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our descendants. Never before has it been so vital that we honour and respect the legacy we have been granted and the one we will leave for generations to come. No matter our differences and the things that divide us, be they ethnicity, culture, politics, religion, wealth, gender, sexuality . . . we have one thing in common: Earth.
Poets are invited to submit up to 25 tanka/tanka sequences/tanka prose inspired by the title. (For example, you might choose to send 20 individual tanka and 5 sequences, or 18 individual tanka, 5 sequences and 2 pieces of tanka prose). Please do not send collaborative sequences, rengay, tanka art or tan renga, as these will not be considered. You are free to interpret the theme in any way you wish: you might consider topics such as earth spirituality; earth gods and goddesses; ancient sites and cultures; tanka of place; Gaia Theory; natural disaster; environmental concerns, protests and activism; inter-being and interconnectedness . . . the list goes on. Poets are encouraged to share their passions, to celebrate, commemorate and honour the existence of this, our common ground, from the smallest creature, backyard haven, or beloved vista, to the ultimate panorama: Earth’s special place in the universe as a pale blue dot in space.
Submissions will open on June 1st and will close on September 30th, 2016. Submissions to Skylark are also open through June and July, so please bear in mind that you may not be notified of acceptances for 6-8 weeks. However, please do not let this deter you from submitting early in the period as all work will be considered from the outset and competition is likely to be high.
Please send your submissions to email@example.com with the subject heading Earth: Our Common Ground/your name. You will receive an automated response, acknowledging receipt of your submission. If you don’t, feel free to inquire.
Please do not send previously published tanka, however poems that have appeared on social media platforms, personal blogs, or in private groups/workshops will be considered, although you must indicate this is the case and which poems it applies to.
Earth: Our Common Ground will be published by Skylark Publishing and will be available to purchase from Amazon and Createspace. 25% of any profits will be donated to frackfreeryedale.org as we continue to fight fracking here in the UK.
Thank you! I look forward to reading your work.
Founder and Editor of Skylark & Tanka Prose Editor for Haibun Today
Why Skylark? This small brown bird is often hailed as the very voice of spring. It lives on open farmland, or heath, and spends much of its life foraging. In the spring, male birds compete for mates by singing almost non-stop, ascending on hovering wings to heights of 100 metres as they do so. Throughout their long, liquid songs, they appear to not take a breath. Their very breath is song, a form of circular breathing whereby the air passes through the lungs and nine separate cavities, and even the birds’ hollow bones. At times, it seems that the sky itself is spilling song, for the songster himself is fluttering too high to be seen. If a flock of birds is seen, it is described as an “exaltation”! It is no surprise that the bird has inspired poets through the ages:Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, George Meredith and Ted Hughes to name but a few.
Up with me! up with me into the clouds! For thy song, Lark, is strong; Up with me, up with me into the clouds! Singing, singing, With clouds and sky about thee ringing, Lift me, guide me till I find That spot which seems so to thy mind!
from “To a Skylark”. William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Skylark, an English-Language tanka journal dedicated to tanka in all its forms, hails from North Yorkshire, England. The inaugural issue appeared in summer 2013 and the journal continues to go from strength to strength under the editorship of its founder, Claire Everett. In 2014, Jenny Ward Angyal joined the team as Reviews and Features Editor. Amy Claire Rose Smith is the Skylark artist.
Skylark welcomes submissions from international poets, new and established alike. Please refer to the submissions page for details.
You can hear more skylarks and read about them here.
Praise for Skylark:
This is the first edition of what promises to become a leading international tanka journal, and is the only print journal of its type in the UK. It oozes class and I have already read it several times. Can't wait for the next edition.
The Journal had a beautiful layout. Wonderful writing. I enjoyed reading it. It was a lot larger than I expected.
Skylark is a lovely tanka journal, full of beauty and cohesion. I'd highly recommend it to any lovers of the Japanese form but also to anyone who likes poetry of any kind.
Skylark is a must have for contemporary tanka poetry writers and readers. It includes a treasure trove of variety of subject and is helmed by a skillful and talented writer herself. Skylark is a bi-yearly publication and is a beautiful addition to any Japanese short form poetry library, containing a great selection of what's being done in the field today.
Skylark is a very well edited journal with excellent production values at a reasonable cost. Highly recommended for all with an interest in Japanese style poetry!
A beautiful collection of contemporary tanka by many talented authors. A delight to read.
****** Look out for exciting news from Skylark in the coming months! ******