Monday, July 3, 2017

One Man's Maple Moon: Ancestral Valley Tanka by Sonam Chhoki

English Original

ancestral valley --
the way prayer flags
flicker light at dawn
I carry this in my heart
each time I leave home

Scribblings Award, Eucalypt, 19, 2015

Sonam Chhoki

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

祖傳的山谷 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

祖传的山谷 --

Bio Sketch

Born and raised in the kingdom of Bhutan. Sonam Chhoki is inspired by her father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan's non-monastic modern education. Her Japanese short form poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in several countries. She is the current haibun and haiku editor of the UHTS journal, cattails.

1 comment:

  1. I was immediately drawn to Sonam Chhoki's tanka as it reminded me of a trip I made many years ago to Nepal. The country I had only dreamed about, was spread out before me. Here, there were mountains in the distance under a blue sky, monasteries, palaces, whitewashed cottages where dung was spread on the walls to dry. Yaks, donkeys and farmers with hand carts who collected sticks of the juniper trees. The prayer flags that were strung between trees summoned to my mind by Sonam's evocative lines: 'the way prayer flags / flicker light at dawn'.

    The simple lines of the tanka unfold a narrative of history (in the words 'ancestral valley'), love of home, remembrance of things past, loss and departure: themes which are ambiguous enough to allow the reader to enter and to get lost within the poem. The tanka moves from the valley of childhood to an intriguing elsewhere. This elsewhere brilliantly captured in the poignancy of the last two lines: 'I carry this in my heart / each time I leave home'). It is this engagement with the departure from home and the poet's memories that is deftly and delicately handled. In this beautiful melancholy tanka she reveals only what she wants the readers to see.

    The tanka takes the breath away, and I feel both moved and stilled by it. Here is a sacred place, a sketch, a fragment, a brief moment in the poet's imagination that captures an infinite sense of what home means to each of us.

    -- An Appraisal by Patricia Prime, which can be accessed at