Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Man's Maple Moon: Sharp Knife Tanka by Carol Purington

English Original

Her sharp knife quick
to peel, core, slice the red apple
    we talk of childhood fears
          how I blocked my ears
          against the fairy tale

First Prize, 2012 Tanka Society of America  International Tanka Contest

Carol Purington

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Carol Purington is at home in the hills of western Massachusetts. She writes about seasonal and emotional rhythms, exploring connections between the worlds inside us and the worlds our bodies interpret. Her works have appeared in English-language haiku/tanka publications, both print and online, and they have won recognition in international contests. She has published three books of tanka: The Trees Bleed Sweetness, A Pattern for This Place, and Gathering Peace.


  1. below is the judge's comment, which can be accessed at

    In this tanka, we were drawn to the juxtaposition of a very specific and quite violent action in the present that seems to bring up a discussion of childhood fears and the remembrance of a scary fairy tale. This poem’s power is perhaps an example of how one poet’s image can have archetypal connotations with its universal resonance. Aside from these emotional elements, there is also a pleasing rhythm accented by a subtle rhyme.

  2. In her psychologically effective tanka, Carol skillfully employs the Japanese technique of arasoi, "confrontation," which is based on the Chinese metaphysical concept of Yin and Yang. Eisenstein, circa 1929, replaced Yin with thesis and Yang with antithesis and cast the whole matter in the mold of his peculiar dialectic,

    "By what, then, is montage characterized and, consequently, its cell -- the shot?" he asked himself in "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram." "By collision. By the conflict of two pieces in opposition to each other. By conflict. By collision." ... hence they generated their meaning by a like dynamic process. 47