This week’s #TankaTuesday by Colleen Chesebro is to write a syllabic poem using synonyms of the words “quiet” and “seek.” I decided to try a haiga, although that is a little dangerous.
A haiga, in its original form, is a Japanese painting with a haiku in it. The text and image work together. The reason I think it’s “dangerous” for me to try this form is that my mixed media fun leans more abstract, so some people might not think this is a haiga. However, I am experimenting here because I like the idea of blending text and image.
I used “silence” for quiet (as a noun) and “pursued” for seek.
There’s a lot of truth in this haiga: we never really had a monsoon season this year, and yet it’s now September. How will we get to fall if we don’t have monsoons to shift the balance? We have to actively pursue fall by decorating with pumpkins and eating pumpkin ice cream.
This Impressionist painting is in a French museum. I grew up going to the Art Institute in Chicago several times a year. While I’ve seen amazing Impressionist paintings at the Louvre and at the Courtauld in London, the Art Institute also has a gorgeous collection. My favorite painting there is by Caillebotte. Impressionism used to be my favorite style. Now my taste leans more toward Surrealism and Symbolism. Since I have been immersing myself in Surrealism by writing ekphrastic stories inspired by Remedios Varo, I really needed to zap myself into a different mentality first. So I ate some Ruffles and French onion dip. Get it? French chip dip, French painting.
I decided to write a tanka about the man in the painting who is the husband of the painter. I discovered that he was a painter himself, and the brother of the more famous Manet. He apparently was very supportive of his wife’s career as well as that of his brother. I found that to be very inspiring, especially since I am reading a novel about Varo’s life and how the male Surrealists treated the female painters. Not as colleagues.
It’s been a long time since I wrote posts based on Dawn Raffel’s memoir, The Secret Life of Objects. The idea is to write about an object that evokes memories.
I’ve blogged a couple of times about the vacation trip I went on with my parents when I wasn’t even four years old yet. We drove from Michigan south and visited Louisiana and Texas, among other states. Some of my most vivid memories from the time period were in New Orleans. I will always associate the city with sidewalk painters seated at their easels, the brushes that were extensions of their hands, and of course their fascinating canvases.
When I visited my mother in April to help her pack up some items before her move into the apartment building at her retirement village, I discovered this painting, long forgotten and gathering dust in Mom’s basement. My parents purchased it on that trip to New Orleans, and it hung for years in their living room. I shipped it home to myself, and now it hangs in my living room, reminding me of that vacation and the colorful, exciting world that existed outside Kalamazoo.
Colleen Chesebro’s prompt for #TankaTuesday is to use at least one kigo word in a syllabic poem for the current season, which in Arizona is summer. Colleen explains a kigo: 👉🏻 What is a KIGO? A kigo is a season word used in haiku and haibun (the haiku portion).
She provides a possible list of kigos. Daisies are not on the list, perhaps because many think of them as spring flowers. However, daisies are also summer flowers! So many types: Chrysanthemum*, Marguerite, English, Gloriosa, Shasta, Cape, Oxeye, and Gerbera. I prefer Gerbera because unlike the other varieties they are completely non-toxic to cats! *this variety is on Colleen’s list
This past week I was in Michigan and Ontario (Canada). I got to see my mother, as well as some other relatives who I also saw in April. The main reason we chose last week to travel was to attend our high school reunion. Have you ever done that? This was my first one. The gardener and I went to the same high school, although he had been with those classmates for elementary and junior high, whereas I was the new girl in 10th grade.
Our reunion was put together sort of last minute by mainly one person who was helped by a few others. It was casual, held at a lakeside park. And maybe 15-20% of graduates attended. Although it would have been fun to have a big dressup party, I think this turned out best because people could move around easily–and best yet, we could hear each other talk. A dinner-dance isn’t the best place to catch up with people.
Although everyone there (except for two people who looked as if they have a nasty portrait of themselves hidden in the attic) looked older and in some cases unrecognizable, in general, I think my class has done pretty well with their appearances. It was really fun to catch up with some old friends and to talk to others I wasn’t as close to. In high school, it seems people rarely talk except to close friends.
An upside of going was that it was fun to “catch up,” and I realized I really care about the welfare of everyone I went to school with. We had a good time, and it was especially fun for the gardener to see people he went to school with for so many years. We also had a memory board with names and a memory candle so we could spend some brain and heart cells on those who are no longer with us.
A downside for me was that I didn’t know so many of the people we went to high school with. High school is not the best time to really get to know a large group of people. It’s also hard to see how old we have all become, although that is also an upside because it made me realize that these people are no longer the 17-year-olds I remember, but have had full lives with ups and downs just as I have had.
I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative, but I learned something about myself. Maybe that is really good, although it feels sad. When I was in school, I was quite shy, though not in a classic “quiet” way, but rather I found it very difficult to have poise in social situations. I didn’t have the confidence to participate in the activities I would have liked to, such as yearbook, journalism, and auditioning for plays. I would be too quiet when I should be more open to talking to others, and I would be noisy when with close friends. When I had openings or opportunities to do more, I assumed deer-in-headlights stance. Starting a new high school was very difficult for me, and add to that I had a lot of problems at home with my father during that time.
So what did I learn about myself from attending the reunion? Although I’ve gained in maturity, compassion, and confidence, I am still the same dummy in social situations. Too scared to initiate conversations, mind empty when I should have spoken, etc. Ugh. So, no, I guess people don’t really change although I thought I had.
My high school was known for being very cliquish, and we had a fair share of “mean girls” (not one of them was at the reunion). I only bring that up because my mother has her own social situation. She lives in a retirement community, in a large independent apartment building, and it too is cliquish. My mother is also an introvert (I think this gene is rampant on my maternal side). Is this what tends to happen in large social groups? Is it only the women or do men feel this, too?
On another note, I have a micro up at Scribes *MICRO* Fiction, thanks to Managing Editor Edward Ahern . It’s a surreal drabble (100 words). This link is for the whole issue, which is full of fun stories and poem. https://www.fairfieldscribes.com/issue-32.html/ My story is about 3/4 through the issue–if it were in pages it would be page 10 out of 13.
Here is how it begins:
These Days by Luanne Castle
I look over at the white Waymo as it pulls up next to us. The giant stuffed bear in the driver’s seat, its googly eyes stubbornly facing forward, refuses to glance at me.
For Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday prompt about sunflowers, I offer this shadorma. The prompt includes a beautiful photo, but I couldn’t download it to use over here.
August is the month of The Sealey Challenge. Started by poet Nicole Sealey in 2017, the challenge is to read a book of poetry every day for the month of August. In the past, I have used this time to read poetry books that were sitting unread on my bookshelf. While I know I can’t read a book a day as I have other things going on, I am still going to try to read more than usual this month. Want to join me?
If you join the challenge and need an idea, I would love it if you wanted to add one of my books to your list. Here is a link to all four books. https://www.luannecastle.com/bookstore/ Additionally, if you are interested in a copy of my first collection Doll God, for this month I am offering you a copy for $5 that includes shipping if you have it delivered in the United States. If you are not in the U.S. contact me and let’s see if we can figure it out. Think of it in honor of the Barbie movie. Email me at luanne.castle which is at gmail.com.
Since Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday poetry prompts are so inspiring to me, I bought her book that describes the various types of syllabic poetry so that I could use that as a guide instead of the wonderful links she has on the Wordcraft website. This way, the book is right at my side when I need it.
Ironically, this week’s #TankaTuesday is to write in a form not in the book. We are to write a poem about a bird in the Japanese form Imayo.
The imayo is comprised of four 12-syllable lines. Each line is divided into a 7-syllable and a 5-syllable section, with a hard pause (or caesura) in between. The pause will generally be represented by a comma, semi-colon, or similar punctuation.
4 lines (8 lines permissible)
12 syllables per line divided as 7-5
make a pause space between the 7 and 5 syllables
use comma, caesura or kireji (cutting word) as the pause
no end of line pauses – the whole should flow together as though one long sentence
The Imayo is a literal poem so do not use symbolism, allegory etc.
I decided to write about the Great Blue Heron that showed up in my yard last year. In the photo, the coyote behind the heron is an inanimate metal coyote!
I glanced out the front window — the Great Blue Heron
stood motionless by the pool — it stared straight ahead
perhaps lost in the desert — perhaps it mistook
pool for a swamp or wetland — beauty or sadness?
Hmm not my favorite form. When the description mentions “literal,” it means the form is not to employ figurative imagery. In general, in English language poetry, literal poems tend to be for children whereas figurative poems (using metaphor, simile, etc ) are for adults. In a literal poem the focus is on a plain description or a simple point or philosophy.
This week’s #TankaTuesday is at the bottom of the post.
This past week we had two new animals show up in our yard. The first was an adolescent javelina. These are not pigs, but peccaries. Because they are very destructive to flowers and cacti, we eventually had to get permission to fence them off our property. But now this little one showed up alone. They travel in herds, called squadrons, and the babies are always twins. I think this one became separated from his people after the @#&*s had to have their fireworks.
Then we were visited by the king snake two days in a row. The first time the snake was climbing a wall. The next day he was near the pool. We love king snakes because they keep rattlesnakes away!
Today’s #TankaTuesday prompt by Colleen is to write a poem with imagery that incorporates the phrase Sun, Sand, & Sea and uses this photograph for inspiration.
This photo taken in San Diego is a far cry from my desert world, but I did used to live in California, not that far from San Diego. At one time, the gardener and I thought we would move to San Diego, but we changed our minds. I wrote a haibun about a different San Diego beach and something that happened not long after we moved to California.
How I Became a Californian
That first year in California, on a sunny late October day, we skipped our grad classes and pulled the kids out of school. The four of us lay on beach towels, mesmerized by the push and pull, the rhythmic crashing, of the waves as they broke upon the beach. My chin rested between my forearms, and the smell of my own warmed skin pleased me. The sun, sand, & sea of California, even enjoyed this late in the season, seemed unreal in comparison with all my Michigan winters. The flowers were so different, I thought, as I spied spiky orange bird-of-paradise flowers along the restroom building. A whistle sounded, and we all looked toward the road. There we saw a train rushing toward us. I only noticed then that the tracks were laid in the sand along the sidewalk. The train slid in to a stop right in front of us. Only three people alighted: young men in board shorts, each carrying a surfboard. They ran past us and straight into the ocean as we watched with our mouths hanging open. The train departed and with it my midwestern innocence.
This week, Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt is to write a syllabic poem inspired by your Celtic tree. I had never heard of this before. It seems similar to an astrological sign in that your birthday determines the tree. My tree is holly, which I had never thought about before. I mean, I know the holly berries and leaves design for Christmas decorations, but that is about it. I discovered:
HOLLY – THE RULER
JULY 8 – AUGUST 4
Among the Celtic tree astrology signs, the Holly is one of regal status. Noble, and high-minded, Holly signs take on positions of leadership and power. If you are a Holly sign you take on challenges easily and overcome obstacles with rare skill and tact. When you encounter setbacks, you remain vigilant to obtain your end goals. People look up to you and follow you as their leader as you are rarely defeated. You are competitive and ambitious even in the most casual settings. You are quite generous, kind and affectionate. Highly intelligent, you skate through academics where others may struggle. Holly signs may look to Ash and Elder signs for balance and partnership.
No doubt these descriptions are set up to flatter, but there are aspects of this description I can relate to. Taking on challenges, (trying to be) kind, things like that. But the ruler? My husband would laugh himself silly because we both agree that while some are leaders, some are followers, there are those like me that are neither. I don’t like being a boss as in: do this, do that, don’t do that, I’ll judge you, etc. I do like the “noble and high-minded” thing, though. Whether it’s simple flattery or something more, I can take a guess 😉 but one of my literary role models (and here I use literature to mean Broadway musical haha) is King Arthur in Camelot. He has to choose between the legal choice for the good of the country (meaning lots of people) or his love for his wife. Really really admire that character.
I thought I would try a tectractys today, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. So here it is:
must come from tact
and the ability to see both sides.
Tectractys is a five-line poem with this syllabic configuration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10.
The literary journal Does It Have Pockets? has published a Red Riding Hood story of mine that is darker than anything found in my chapbook Our Wolves. “Why I Always Wear Red” is flash fiction that finishes with a tectractys, making it a hybrid genre. You can read it here: