things of the edges takes the reader back to the beginning of Joy McCall’s journey with tanka. I paused there, initially writing through, but decided that as much as these are poems that transport the reader as well as their writer, I believe they are more than that. Tanka has been an almost lifelong friend to Joy; a companion on this path whose beginning and end are lost to mist. Those of us familiar with her extraordinary collections know her as a singer of songs, a lover of life (especially the small things), a wise woman, hedge-witch, or midwife of old who is capable of bringing an ordinary moment or visceral experience across the threshold into the realms of wonder and magic. We have come to know Joy as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and, not least, as a child of the universe . . . ~from the foreword by Claire Everett.
The simple, yet, real sense that comes through reading things of the edges is that Joy McCall lives in tanka time! She sees and feels this world in the beautiful breadth of her five-line vision. Her tanka illuminate life now and then with nuance and passion. This gift of a collection takes us back to where she began living in a tanka dream time. These tanka reveal the sources of her heart and soul. So much of life is a one-way arrow in flight always forward. Thankfully this arrow brings us back on the curve of the earth to where we have been before, without always knowing it.
~from the afterword by Tom Clausen.
a voice says hello somewhere in the empty house; a kind, quiet voice, not familiar, quite, but I have known it all my life
A delightful little book of tanka by Joy McCall. Cover art by Jonathan Day. Cover design by Owen Smith. Back cover blurb by Don Wentworth.
58 pages perfect bound. 19th June 2017
Available for purchase. Click on the buttons for details.
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 . . . Earth: Our Common Ground is a song of short songs (tanka) -- 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.
For details of how to purchase, visit the Skylarkhomepage.
Liam Wilkinson’s collection, Seeing Double: Tanka Pairs, marks a new and wonderful stage in the development of tanka poetry in English. By the device of pairing poems that complement, argue, clarify, obfuscate, explicate, and resonate with one another, a device which Wilkinson has truly mastered, the poet infuses radically brief poems with ambiguity, depth and potential that transmutes them into gorgeous and mysterious vehicles of sense and meaning. Wilkinson deftly utilizes the traditional tanka “rhetoric of omission,” which I call “dreaming room,” to erase the boundaries of his fascinating tanka and, thereby, to deeply engage readers at the level of their own experiential contexts. I love these poems more and more as I read and re-read them because they work powerfully on both intellectual and emotional planes. I recommend Liam Wilkinson’s Seeing Double: Tanka Pairs whole-heartedly to all who love fine poetry. — Denis M. Garrison, author of First Winter Rain.
We are so fortunate to have this one and many faceted man, this beautiful poet, this Liam Wilkinson, among us, writing in our time. —Larry Kimmel author of outer edges.
Jenny Ward Angyal’s long-awaited first collection of tanka, including sequences and tanka prose, represents a considerable body of work by an author for whom poetry is breath and blood. The opening section entitled ‘so many doors left open’ not only echoes the tanka written in memory of the poet’s mother and her gifts of advent calendars down the years, but hints at the mystery and otherworldliness that beckon the moment the reader steps over the threshold into Jenny’s unique story, as well as the questions that will re-main unanswered (and rightly so) when the journey is done . . . Every tanka is a miniature reflection of this beautiful soul, another tile in the mosaic of ephemera; another mirror-gem in Indra’s Net of which she, too, is a part:
ripples passing through each other in an ink-dark pool our mirrored faces
But Jenny Angyal has found a way to tack herself to eternity:
scribbling faint words to address the infinite— I pluck one thread in the harp of stars
(From the Foreword by Claire Everett, Founder and Editor of Skylark).
Jenny Ward Angyal is a fine guide on the tanka sequence trail. It probably helps that she seems to write from some primordial, archetypal forty-acre parcel the reader has rarely visited: "high in the arms/of a sugar maple" (heartwood); "the rough old floors/my mother speckled" (house); "born with a caul/the filly struggles" (mare's milk). In the sequences that took me the farthest, I traveled with her to a timeless place where people live near streams, play flutes, and "catch for a moment/time's powdered wings" (chrysalis). Her shifting often surprised me in ways that, after their initial unexpectedness, had me nodding: I see that.
(From 'Jenny Ward Angyal's Sequences', an Afterword by David Rice, Editor of Ribbons).
Cover design by Owen Smith
Turn a well-cut diamond in your hand and it shines differently from every angle and yet light radiates from the same stone. Anne Benjamin writes responsive tanka with Claire Everett, Jan Foster, Marilyn Humbert, Patricia Prime, Carmel Summers, Luminita Suse and Julie Thorndyke. Numerous subjects ranging from childbirth to climate change arise with pathos and humour in this collection of tanka sequences. Gemstones contains poems to be savoured for the way they link, shift and sparkle from many points of view, each facet connected to the other.
~Kathy Kituai, Founder and Facilitator of Limestone Tanka Poets. Author of Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls, 2015
Cover Design by Owen Smith. Photograph, Luminita Suse
A story made for two, told by Tony in prose and Claire by way of tanka prose, haibun, tanka and haiku. 264 pages, perfect bound. Cover design, Owen Smith There are two sides to every story . . . When an adrenaline junkie and his poet wife take to the road on a bicycle made for two, a tale of trust, love and adventure unfolds. One thing is certain: a tandem will either make or break a relationship . . .
"In this part of England, we are fortunate enough to be encircled by spectacular scenery, landscapes veined with winding roads that, with a single glance, insist upon our curiosity. An unscheduled right-turn might offer a chance encounter with an eerily quiet tenth century church, whilst a left-turn might deliver a cluster of standing stones. And so, it's easy to see why anyone would want to buy a bike and trundle off into one adventure after another. Seat a pair of fine writers on a bicycle made for two, however, and the adventures become far bigger. “The season of gifting is upon us” begins this enchanting and engaging book, and what a gift we've been given by Claire and Tony—and, of course, Tallulah!" ~Liam Wilkinson Editor of Englyn Journal of Four Line Poetry.
"For a few years now, I've been reading the tandem bicycle adventures of Tony and Claire from a woman's point of view. We now have Tony's, the Middle-Age Shredder. Ladies, it may come as a surprise, but you can trust a husband who doesn't follow assembly instructions. Up the Irons!" ~Mike Montreuil Haibun and Tanka Prose Editor, A Hundred Gourds
To mark the launch of the publishing branch of Skylark, we are delighted to announce Hagstones, a unique collection consisting of an extended responsive tanka string, authored by Claire Everett and Joy McCall in the aftermath of the untimely death of their mutual friend:
In Hagstones, Claire Everett and Joy McCall combine their acumen as tanka poets in a book of 92 poems, written over the winter of 2014 in memory of fellow poet and friend, Brian Zimmer. The rich imagery of yew berries, wren song and "high, wide Norfolk skies" found in these poems conveys, in its symbolic forms and expressive Jungian colors, layers of thought and emotion that blend, shift, and ultimately reveal a vision that connects us to the timeless, earthen consciousness that is all around us . . . that which speaks to us in the original mother tongue of the senses and what we may call "beautiful mind."
With Hagstones, tanka in English achieves a pagan, Celtic eloquence in the high art of the short poem. The genre could not have more seasoned cairns to mark its coming onto Western shores and Druidic ground. The essential elements of that ageless sense of things are here, in life and death, deep-rooted and stirring. The book reads like an apparition that leaves footprints on the grass.
~ Michael McClintock author of Letters in Time and Meals at Midnight
Tanka by Claire Everett Selected, sequenced and introduced by David Terelinck with afterwords by Susan Constable and Joy McCall. Cover design by Owen Smith Editor and founder of Skylark Tanka Journal in Great Britain, Claire Everett has made contributions to the short poem in English that compel, on both critical and artistic fronts, our undivided attention and enthusiasm. The Small, Wild Places is the poetry of an engaged intelligence, one that has mastered the nuances, pivots, compact powers and rhythms that are unique to the five-line form of modern English tanka. Everett works inside the seam that exists between the reality of the physical world and our spiritiual connection to its energies, essences, and infinite possibilities. David Terelinck's arrangement of the poems makes a symphony of the poet's words and images, themes and subjects. The music is that of earth tones and intimate landscapes, love and remembrance, and moments anchored in permanence. Behind it all, there is a philosophy at work in The Small, Wild Places that binds time and transience, the metaphysical and the concrete - that special Celtic ability to apprehend and express the unseen in the seen, and to lift our vision with sheer tidal pull and force. Do not be surprised, then, if these poems bring you and your inner ear to that place that is "Silent, upon a peak in Darien" - where every lover of poetry, I think, wishes to go.
-Michael McClintock, Editor, The Tanka Anthology (Red Moon Press, 2003) and President (2005-2012), Tanka Society of America.
Hagstones A Tanka Journey by Claire Everett & Joy McCall
Claire Everett and Joy McCall are two quintessentially English tanka poets whose work draws heavily on the Pagan past. It is no surprise then that they should find each other and become friends; poetry bridges the gaps between souls. Together they have written a sequence of ninety-two responsive tanka. Responsive tanka of this length are rare in English language tanka, although the earlier renga of Japan routinely featured multiple authors collaborating on sequences of one hundred tanka, and even one thousand tanka . . .
. . . According to Japanese mythology, the goddess Wakahime ('Poetry Princess') sang over the body of her dead husband and thereby invented tanka. The English witches are crouching over their mortar and pestle, sprinkling sweet and bitter herbs into their brew, and singing, as Macbeth's witches sang, as the Japanese goddess sang, and their grief is a spell that ensorcels the reader. There is no resolution here and precious little hope. Instead we are left with the shimmering remnants of the past dancing before our vision as a tantalus of memory. This is true magic: enduring, unshakeable, and persistent. When you read this book, a bit of the sacred incense will cling to you long after. For a time, you too will be seeing ghosts from the corner of your eye.
~from the introduction by M. Kei Editor of Atlas Poetica & author of January: A Tanka Diary
To purchase Hagstones, click on one of the following links:
pine winds, autumn rain Matsukaze & Murasame Tanka strings accompanied by full-colour images Tanka strings in the tradition of Heian Court poetry (waka) authored by Matsukaze, USA and Murasame (Joy McCall), UK. The pen names, Matsukaze and Murasame, pay homage to the ghost-sisters who were loved by the poet Yukihira in the traditional Noh play, 'Shiokumi' (Sea Salt Laving). A play for autumn, in more recent times it has become known, simply, as 'Matsukaze', and along with 'Yuya' (a play for spring) has been one of the most popular dramas since ancient times— hence the expression: “Yuya, Matsukaze and a bowl of rice”— an allusion to the things in life of which we never tire. Soul food. Within these pages, pressed between images of hearth and heath, of stained glass and church door and gate, tanka treads a path that borders on high poetry and passes through holy ground. In ‘sakura’ we are told these are “blood-hymns.” Murasame’s blood is a rich brown like the earth from whence it came and to which, drop by drop, word by word, it is bound to return. She praises the “dark breath” whose voice is none other than Matsukaze’s; he who might have been written into the Song of Solomon. Much as in the ‘real’ 21st century world the poets’ relationship is purely platonic, when they don the masks of their pen names their love is, by turns, courtly, passionate, reverent, unconditional . . . and it knows no bounds. Just as their words blend seamlessly on the page, it seems they are so attuned to each other they might be of one age, one colour, one heart.