Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Room of My Own: Gravestone Tanka

A reply to those I-tanka where there is no aesthetic distance between the poet and the speaker/persona

Tanka is NOT merely a diary of the emotional life of the poet. Chen-ou Liu

a ghost, I stand
behind this new gravestone
engraved with my name...
a boy reciting my poem
apart, and yet a part

Note: This poem is the first tanka written from the perspective of a deceased person.  Below is the first haibun written from the perspective of a deceased person, which I use as an example in my review essay", titled "What Happens in [David Cobb’s Conception of] Haibun:A Critical Study for Readers Who Want More," (Haibun Today, 7:3, Sep. 2013), a thematic, textual, and perspectival analysis of David Cobb's 2013 book, What Happens in Haibun:A Critical Study of an Innovative Literary Form:

Confucius Said, at Forty I Had No More Doubts
for 劉鎮歐

Every day and night, I ask myself what if? Whether things might have been different or better. If anything more could have come of it. But I died four days before my 40th birthday, on a moonless night.

distant sirens . . .
across the winter sky
a shooting star

The “interesting features” of my haibun are not only the more varied use of tenses, but also its “radical use” of POV and dedication, in which “劉鎮歐” is my Chinese name. In my view, the effectively combined use of different tenses, POVs, dedications, headnotes, and footnotes can have a great chance to transform haibun into an “innovative literary form” (p. 1) as indicated in the subtitle of the book....

1 comment:

  1. For more "poetic replies"/tanka examples, see "Kaleidoscope: Selected Tanka of Shuji Terayama translated by Kozue Uzawa and Amelia Fielden, " Kozue Uzawa's article on his tanka, "Tanka of Shuji Terayama (1936-1983)" (Simply Haiku, 5:3, Autumn 2007, and Robert D. Wilson's book review (Simply Haiku, 6:3, Autumn 2008,

    I'll publish a "To the Lighthouse" post to discuss his cinematic techniques and innovative use of POVs.