|TABLE OF CONTENTS
XVII:1 February, 2002
A Journal for Linking Poets
A WORD OF PRAISE FOR PARTICIPATION RENGA
ARTICLES AND LETTERS TO LYNX
THE DEFINITE FORM OF ENGLISH TANKA
In writing English tanka, it is acknowledged that there are two main streams.
The one type is to write English tanka in the form of 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count following the Japanese tanka style. The representative authors who write in this style are Fr. Neal H. Lawrence, and James Kirkup.
In this style, the form of English tanka is the same as the Japanese tanka. When these English tanka are edited, as in an anthology, the beauty of their neat form is impressive. But 31-syllable English tanka usually have more meaning than there is in the Japanese poem. Therefore, when Japanese tanka are translated into English, some words may have to be added to adjust the syllable count. On the other hand, when English tanka are translated into Japanese, the content is too great to put into the Japanese tanka form.
The other stream, I suppose, is that of English-speaking people who have read the scholarly English translation of Man yoshuu or Hyakunin-issyu (One Hundred Tanka by One Hundred Poets). They have learned that tanka is a short poem with 5 lines. In this group there are some people, who write in 5 lines for the purpose of distinguishing tanka from haiku, but others insist on writing tanka in four lines. These people usually don't pay a lot of attention to the length of English tanka. The chief authors of this style are Jane Reichhold who publishes the tanka magazine Lynx and Sanford Goldstein who introduced Akiko Yosano, Shiki Masaoka and others to foreign readers through his translations.
Among those who write tanka in this free style, are some persons who have questioned whether this free style poem should deserve to be called tanka or not. There are also others who want to write English tanka in a definite form. Moreover, those who write Japanese original tanka and try to translate it into English have a strong desire to get a definite form of English tanka.
To answer those demands, Prof. Ohno insists on a 21 syllable tanka, that is 3+5+3+5+5=21 syllable tanka in English, and at most within a permissible range he proposed 20 plus or minus 3-syllable tanka. He originated the method of reciting his own tanka in a normal speaking voice, without singing tone nor tremolo. Through his experiments, he concludes that if you put suitable words to every 5 lines of English tanka, you will reproduce a definite form of tanka.
I also grope with the question of proper style in translating Japanese tanka into the English. My first attempt was to translate Fr. Lawrence's anthology into Japanese using the Japanese tanka form. Through this translation, I realized that it is by no means easy to translate his tanka into the definite form of Japanese, even considering the extra syllable allowed by jiamari.
Next, I translated Anna Holley's tanka which bears a great similarity to the Japanese tanka form. Her tanka is from 17 syllables to 24 syllables,* with only one 26 syllable tanka** as the exception. The most frequent number of syllables of each line of her tanka *** is 3, 5, 3, 5, and 5, which proves the reliability of Prof. Ohno's theory.
*1 The Distribution of Anna's tanka in Cold Waves
one 17 syllable tanka
** Anna's 26 syllable tanka
over a field
In this tanka three syllable word, "cicada" is used twice, and this is the reason it has 26 syllables.
syllables used in the 2nd line:
syllables used in the 3rd line:
syllables used in the 4th line:
syllables used in the 5th line:
I tried to find what English tanka form was most suitable for my English translation.
My approach to find a definite English tanka form which balanced properly to the Japanese tanka should be hopefully done through a theory. Japanese tanka is considered to consist of 5 lines of 31 syllables in all with built- in pauses. It is admitted that considering these pauses, every Japanese tanka has forty spaces which are equivalent to forty syllables. In pronouncing Japanese, which has no outstanding stress, it is a characteristic that two sound units are pronounced together as one beat.*
The meter of Japanese tanka is quadruple time, and two sounds equal one beat.
Thus, it is my conclusion that Japanese tanka which has forty spaces, must be balanced by twenty syllables in English tanka.
The reason I dare not determine the number of syllables in every line as Prof. Ohno did in his assumption, but count the number of syllables as a whole tanka is based on the theory of "definite amount of tanka", which was proposed in the beginning of the Showa era. I noticed that Yukitsuna Sasaki mentioned it in a round-table talk on "Rhyme of Tanka" in the series of Tanka and Japanese , the third volume published by Iwanami-bookstore.
I looked for this theory in the National Library and found the article written by Zenmaro Toki concerning "The Definite Quantity of Tanka". Zenmaro says that Nobuyuki Ohkuma advocated such a theory as follows: Ohkuma said that tanka has not only definite form, but also has a definite amount, as it were tanka has twofold aspects. Tanka is the unity of both these essences. I think that his assumption refers to both characteristics of tanka.
Though I might seem to be wandering off the subject, I would like to quote more of Ohkuma's theory, as this theory is very important regarding the substance of tanka.
"The definite form of tanka is 5 lines with 5-7-5-7-7 on (kana or sound unit) and at the same time, the definite amount of tanka is 31 on as a rule. And even if there were some malfunction in the division of 5-7-5-7-7 on, we can call it a definite form of tanka . And even if there were one or two more or less on than the definite amount of tanka, we can still call it a definite amount of tanka. The definite amount of tanka is able to exist apart from the definite form of tanka, but the latter isn't able to exist independently from the former. This is the reason that tanka can keep its literary life surpassing the other similar forms of poems."
In different words, I think that "the malfunction in the division of 5-7-5-7-7" means the phenomena of ku-ware (split phrase) and ku-matagari (fused phrase). Likewise, "if there are one or two increase or decrease of on than the definite amount of tanka, we can call it as the definite amount of tanka" because of the phenomena of jiamari (extra on)".
Moreover, I think that the last part of this quotation is especially important. It refers to the superiority of "the definite amount of tanka" to "the definite form of 5-7-5-7-7".
His statements are about the twofold aspects of tanka, though he wasn't clearly aware of tanka's absolute rhyme which two sounds on the forty spaces with built-in pauses are pronounced as one beat. In translating tanka into another language, first of all, we have to consider English rhyme of poetry. In translating Japanese tanka into English, it is more practical not to have the regular number of syllables in each line.
As the next step, I examined the number of stress, as it were the number of foot, of Anna Holley's tanka.
The Distribution of Foot on the Cold Waves:
We call the combination of length of sound, long or short and strong or weak in lines of poetry "meter". We call the combination of long or strong syllable and short or weak syllable "foot". In English poetry, "foot" is composed of one or two weak syllables.
In Anna's anthology Cold Waves, the number of stress is
mainly 2-2-2-2-2 feet. A counting of the number of foot in each line of Cold
Waves show that she used for the 1st and
In the 2nd, 4th, 5th lines she used:
This result coincides with the statement of Prof. Nakagawa that tanka is 10-foot-equivalent English tanka in his book Tanka in English. He says as follows:
"Nobody is opposed to it, but not adopted by all. you can be free to translate tanka in any way you like. And the result would be any kind of short poetry. . . If you prefer the quantitative equivalent (i.e. ten feet) of the tanka, it would be five dimeter lines(2-2-2-2-2), one dimeter and two tetrameter lines(4-4-2, 4-2-4 0r 2-4-4), one tetrameter and one hexameter line(4-6 or 6-4), two pentameter lines(5-5) or other conceivable variations in ten feet." From this I acknowledge that he concludes if tanka has ten feet in all, the division of foot is free.
It is not written in Nakagawa's book why he reached this conclusion, but Prof. Hideo Okada who has sympathy with Nakagawa's theory says that by fitting the number of English stress to the numbers of phrases in Japanese, the most faithful translation will be gotten not only in meaning, but also in length and rhyme of tanka. He named this "foot-parallelism" in contrast to "syllable-parallelism". Prof. Okada says that this idea was already written in Kochi Doi's volume on Words and Rhyme some years before.
Compare the Japanese and English versions of the two parts of
It is my pleasure to come to the same conclusion by analyzing Anna's tanka. Through the translation of Anna's tanka into Japanese in the form of tanka, I want to conclude that the definite form of English tanka equivalent to the Japanese is 20 plus and minus 3 syllables, in other words, 10 foot poetry.
THE ORIGIN OF HAIKU
For some people, the idea of haiku poetry seems to begin with Matsuo Basho - although he never used that term himself. He composed hokku and haikai no renga. For other people, the modern period of the three phrase 5,7,5 syllable poem began with Masaoka Shiki who used the term 'haiku' to distinguish the independent poem from the opening poem of linked poetry.
Others, with even more restriction, identify haiku with Shiki's theory of shasei. Whatever are the merits of these views, I regard the idea of haiku as having a long history back to VIIIth Century Japanese songs and poetry. The word "haiku" was first used in a published work in 1663. The word "haikai' goes back at least to the Kokinshuu of 905, the first imperial poetry collection. The idea of hokku has a history back to Chinese poetics.
All that we can be certain of is that there has been an evolutionary process from the beginnings of Japanese recorded poetry, back to the Kojiki, 712, Nihonshoki, 720, and the Man'yo-shuu, mid-VIIIth Century.
There is no difficulty in tracing the idea of haiku back to the hokku of the zenith period of propositionally linked poetry, the ushin no renga. In the XVth Century, Iio So-gi brought this form of linked poetry to its perfection. The origin of hokku is more problematical. I have researched all Japanese poems up to and including the 905 Kokinshuu. I am familiar with a great deal of the poetry up to the end of the XVth century. There is no doubt whatever that large numbers of independent hokku had been collected together by the XIVth century. Some of these must have existed as independent poems. There is also no doubt that the rules for composition of renga also changed. The fushimono distribution rules required the early renga to be thematically unified. While in the mature hyakuin (100-link renga) this thematic unity had been replaced by adjacent stanza linkage, categories and associations still remained, and it is not possible to read a classical hyakuin renga without knowledge of these rules. The hokku, or opening poem, had a specific importance in the earlier renga sequences. It is not surprising, therefore, that anthologies of hokku were collected. The more than 500 years from the Kokinshuu 905 to the birth of So-gi in 1421 may hold the key to the origin of the hokku. In that period some of Japan's greatest poets lived. These include Fujiwara Teika [1162-1241] and the greatest hokku poet, Shinkei [1406-1475] .
Many people believe that the 5 line waka (tanka) poem, which had become the dominant form of poetry by 905, the long chooka poem having almost disappeared, broke up to a 3 line poem, the so-called sankugire split. However, there are many examples of a 2 line poem being answered by a 3 line poem, and a 3 line poem being answered by a 2 line poem as in the earliest linked poetry, the tan renga. Of importance here is the parallelism that was a feature of Chinese poetry. This requires the same form to be repeated. This is perfectly possible in chooka because of the repeated 5,7,5,7 pattern. It is not feasible in the waka or in its modern equivalent, the tanka. The (5+7) + (5+7) +7 structure of five lines is asymmetrical, suggesting a (5 + 7 + 5) + (7 + 7) fault line and hence the proto-type hokku splitting from the waka.
For a long time I have thought this theory of hokku formation unsatisfactory. I have decided to find an alternative theory. I have researched every poem in the Man'yo-shuu. I was struck by the many lyrical poems as fragments in the chooka. I believe that these are the proto-haiku. Accordingly, to test this theory, I began to write a chooka which had proto-haiku at every 11 verses of 2 line 5,7, units, with every first non-haiku verse a 7,5,7 verse. The scheme is as follows: 5,7(verse I), 5,7,5,7,5,7, 5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7 - 5,7,5(proto-haiku verse XI) - 7,5,7 (verse XII- 5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7,5,7- 5,7,5 (proto-haiku verse XXII) - 7,5,7 (verse XXIII) - 5,7... In this way, a proto-haiku occurs every eleven verses. This poem has a story, as did all the Man'yo-shuu chooka, in which the photo-haiku are embedded. The story is the meeting of two philosophers, both beautiful women. The older woman, Lady Akaiko, about 65, has lived a very successful life. The younger woman, Lady Kuniko, a 25 year old virginal woman with almost no experience of the world, has left the Kamo river to find love. The women meet in the cedar forest on Yakushima Island in 740 AD, 54 years before the founding of Kyoto. There is a violent rainstorm, and the two women seek shelter in a temple. They are astounded to find that they are both philosophers and both interested in the nature of the soul. They concede that if the soul dies, what is immortal? The story will be in 4 stages. Part I is in the forest and in Lady Akaiko's home. Part II concerns the sea voyages from the island of Yakushima to western Kyushu then to Naniwa in Honshu with finally a palanquin journey to the Basin of the three rivers including the Kamo.
Young men will fall in love with Lady Kuniko, but through the influence of Lady Akaiko, Lady Kuniko will see them as shallow, non-philosophical types.
Part III will be in the scroll room of Lady Kuniko's father house, and in the cedar forests near the present site of Kyoto. Here the two philosophers will attempt to prove that the intellect is immortal. I plan for some fragments of Aristotle to be available to the two ladies because traders have come to Western China through Afghanistan and Persia. Part IV is their return to the Nara Court where Lady Kuniko finds true love. The poem is now in progress. When the already written proto-haiku are put together they link to form a non-logical sequence, yet rational ideas run through the linkage. I call the whole poem "The New De Anima" because, as an Aristotelian philosopher, I have put his thoughts into their minds. Of course, the whole thing is in a dynamic development. Since the proto-haiku link to the 5,7, verses, the proto-haiku are themselves linked. Less than a fifth is written. For my theory the verse numbers are important but would make no sense to a reader, except that they would deduce the +11 sequence. In the light of this essay, readers can see the reasoning that explains the numbering of the verses. The action of the poem will take place over the course of a year. All the poems in Part I are written in autumn, therefore each one has an autumn kigo. The other seasons will follow until Part IV, the summer in Nara. Of course, I shall continue my research to refute the haiku evolving from the tanka theory, and to gain more evidence for my own theory of proto-haiku from the chooka. For readers who do not know the Man'yo-shuu there is a treasure waiting for them. Among the many poems there will be found long chooka which are the epics of Japanese poetry. There are twenty books in the Man'yo-shuu. The recently revised Shimpen Kokka Taikan edition lists 4,540 poems.
THE NEW DE ANIMA
Through faint autumn mists,
Turning from this sky;
In the early light,
Each instant recedes:
In the rising light,
This late plum's sweetness;
Swiftly rising winds
Our rich scarlet hems,
Her face in pale light;
The wind sweeps over
Just this trace of love -
The autumn sunlight
Now the forest calm,
The cool autumn air:
Falling autumn seeds;
Only a faint cry:
Shadows touch her face:
An unseen orchid -
These ancient cedars,
On the sixteenth day ;
Pulling at our hair,
The clouds pass the moon:
This beautiful light,
A bird of the night;
Stillness, then a cry;
The crimsoned silk,
Silent, falling leaves;
The moon now higher -
Panel to the sky ;
Clinging to the ledge,
Remembered dusk -
In the night's stillness,
Timing our return,
The morning glory,
END of PART ONE
Teikei: Notes on Stanza Structure
The renga employs fixed form (teikei) stanza structures based on the prosody of the 'zip' style haiku, a format originally proposed in the first issue of World Haiku Review . The long verse (chooku) comprises fifteen syllables deployed at will over two lines, each line broken by a triple space (caesura). The short verse (tanku) is composed of eleven syllables written as a single line, broken in two places by identical caesurae. Line-break and caesurae are intended to inflect both the meter and the semantic movement of the verse. Typographically, the long verse centres on its caesurae.
J. Carley Bio: John Edmund Carley is 46 years old and lives in the Rossendale valley, Lancashire, England: the cradle of the British textile industry. A polyglot and former musician, John has a particular interest in the phonic properties of poetry and has written, performed and published a wide range of material in English, Italian, French and Piemoteis as well as working on translations from Urdu, Bangla and, more recently, Japanese. John works free lance as a creative writing tutor having recently completed a twelve month residency as facilitator on an international open access mail-group: The Pennine Poetry Works, sponsored by the Arts Council for England. Deeply interested in both innovation and tradition, John is currently the recipient of a North West Arts Board writer's bursary for the study of Japanese verse forms in English.
A WORD OF PRAISE FOR PARTICIPATION RENGA
Do you realize that a renga among the Participation Renga has been running for seventeen years? I think "Gently Wiping Dust" started by Jim Wilson (aka Tundra) surely must be the renga that has occupied collaborators for the longest time. And as one reads through "Gently Wiping Dust" (do you read the Participation renga) you will recognize many ‘names’ of English renga writers, but more importantly, you will be reading renga with a freshness, giant leaps, unusual subjects and viewpoints. Truly, this and the other Participation Renga are the most up-to-date examples of renga in the English language – bar none!
I have heard from persons, who shall remain unnamed, that they didn’t like to submit links to the Participation Renga because their work got ‘lost’ (if no one responds to a link it is dropped). This is true, but in any magazine in which you publish a haiku, it gets ‘lost’ when your haiku is not put into the next issue and no one minds this fact of paper publishing. With the renga, by our keeping them going, the links which do achieve a response are carried on and on. If you keep up with the renga as Carlos Colon, Gene Doty, Cindy Guntherman, John M. Bennett, Jean Jorgensen and we have done, your links ‘live’ as long as the renga goes and even longer now that the feature is online where everyone has access to past versions of the renga. Someday, we tell ourselves, there has to be a book made of all the renga done in this manner, with all the versions, so all the poems are saved properly.
Since Lynx went online, the number of people taking part has dropped. At first I was okay with this as doing the Participation Renga (keeping track of them and adding the links in the proper place and juggling files) is a difficult job and I was happy to have less to confuse myself with. But now (after two years!) I am getting fairly practiced with maneuvering the files around and would like to see more participants. So you are cordially invited to join this surely-to-be-famous fun by sending some stanzas to the current open links (the ones in italic – notice). Many people find it easiest to simply print out the whole Participation Renga file from the internet on paper. Then you can curl up in your favorite chair, pick your favorite links and let your mind explode with creativity as you write your responding links. You can either send these papers by post to LYNX, pob 767, Gualala, CA 95445 or you can type up the title of the renga, the link you are linking to and your link with your initials in an e-mail and send it off to us.
You can read the winning poems picked in October, 2001, by the participants in the Tanka Splendor 2001 Awards.
TSA 2002 Contest
LETTERS TO LYNX
. . .For those of us living in countries where the exchange rate prohibits subscribing to overseas paper magazines, an online publication such as Lynx is a true gift. My first introduction to tanka was at AHApoetry.com. I have learnt SO much from all the information as well as beautiful poetry there. Thanks to you and Jane for the wonderful online books and excellent articles on your website! Maria Steyn (Africa)
. . . Actually I am very pleased at the idea of putting the 10 recently submitted tanka together under one title as one poem. I agree that there is an inner link to them all, but at first I did not see how to arrange them to accommodate the three I put separately at the end. Looking it over tonight, I think I see the logical progression of this "sequence" and so have changed the order around though nothing within the poems. I did, however, add one more tanka to the sequence that to me seems to belong with the others. And I hope the new ordering gives it something or an inner-reflective "narrative" progression ("after all these years" may be what sets if off), that compliments the inner link. Let me know what you think. And thank you for your time, thought, and perceptions. Larry Kimmel
Good gracious greetings... its a 15 degree cold snow but sunny morning here and a couple friends from Pennsylvania are about to arrive and we'll go for what should be a frigid but heart warming hike! I must go get ready for this day unfolding but wanted to let you know your warm acceptance of so many of the tanka sent certainly made my day-week and threshold into the New Year already great! Happy New Year every day to you! Many thanks for the kind alert on this... not sure i have worthy material but will let you decide that... here is what is in my little pocket notebooks that i believe is not submitted or previously published...I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness and feel not a little sheepish sending things so close to your closing time on this issue and am sorry i'm not more organized... a couple of these tanka even touch on that conundrum! Wishing you all the best, Tom Clausen
. . .The three renga done with Francine Porad which we are submitting, are taken from a growing cycle titled "Probably: 'real' renga sorta". Marlene Mountain
. . . "haibunic clues" is one of my first attempt at a multi-genre verse - it is solo rather than symbiotic, and it led Paul Conneally and I to work on some multi-genre symbiotic works, eventually the "Wordsworth Papers" pieces, a 9 part work to poetry by Wordsworth. "haibunic clues" consists of 1) haiku 2) a "new form" ren, 3) tanka 4)"new form" ren 5) haiku 6) sijo 7) tanka - non of the verses are in traditional Asian form, but are all avant-garde, basically using the form but not the expected subject matter for content. I've not published it yet, although it is on my Paper Lanterns website's personal poetry pages. This first offering may not fit into any of the categories. It's really different than all the categories you've listed, I think. I don't think I've written any haibun with tanka lately, and I've not tried ghazal yet. Best wishes for a great New Year 2002! Debi Bender
Yes, we'll publish "haibunic clues" with our February 2002 issue of LYNX. I somehow see that you want to use the word haibun in the title. I personally don't know why. In European literature, genres have been mixed since centuries. And so have American authors done that later. In Japan, after my knowledge, a haibun is written by using text + one or several haiku (seldom tanka). The mix of genres we're using in the West is unknown in Japan where the poets, till today, have been pushed into genre-groups, not even talking to members of other cliques. In Lynx, your work fits with the section "Solo Works" meaning it is written by one person not in one genre. There, we already published many of mine and Jane's multi-genre works. "Solo Works" is a chapter not bound to a specific genre, even though we keep the tanka, ghazal or sijo together. For example, there are Sheila Murphy's poems with no relation to known genres. Or the work I did with Kostelanetz. "Solo Works" only signifies that the work is done by a single person. The more avant-garde the better. Beginning 1994, I myself mixed, without exception, all Japanese forms, ghazal, and European-American poetry genres, including all kinds of prose and dialogue, including plays. I also published my mixed genres on our Ahapoetry web site in three of the four collections titled Cybertry, and in art books like Tidalwave and Handshake. All the best wishes for 2002! Werner.
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Page Copyright © by Jane Reichhold 2002.
Next Lynx is scheduled for June, 2002.