* shifting with yosano akiko

akiko_yosano_youngerThis week I’m sharing tanka by Yosano Akiko as translated by Roger Pulvers.* In a previous post about her work, I focused on the role of tension in her poems. This time around, I have selected tanka that shift narratives midway.

Line by line, the three poems below develop their narrative arc, only to shift in the last two lines. This nuanced skill allows for shifts in perspective (first tanka), a shift in rhetoric (second), or a sudden shift in action (third). Each is a little drama that is accessible to the reader without losing any of its lyrical intimacy.

Two stars deep into heaven
Whispering love
Behind the nighttime curtain
While down below, now, people lie
Their hair in gentle disarray…

夜の帳にささめき尽きし星の今を下界の人の鬢のほつれよ

*

Made to punish men for their sins
The smoothest skin
The longest black hair…
All that
Is me!

罪おほき男こらせと肌きよく黒髪ながくつくられし我れ

*

The girl in a springtime window
Calls to awaken a young priest
Barely a man
His sutras toppled
By her dangling sleeve

うらわかき僧よびさます春の窓ふり袖ふれて經くづれきぬ

akiko_and_tekkan_yosano

Pulvers’ article ends with a final tanka which he prefaces by sharing how the poem was born out of Akiko’s husband, Tekkan, wanting “her to apply his blood to her lips as lipstick.” The manner in which Akiko describes and seizes upon how quickly physical things change reflects the emotional change and reaction to this strange, if intimate, request.

What will come into my burning lips?
You answer…
“The blood from my little finger.”
But that blood is too dry now
For my mouth

もゆる口になにを含まむぬれといひし人のをゆびの血は涸れはてぬ

*

Happy tanka-ing!

José

*Check out Roger Pulvers’ full article & translations here.

P.S.: Check out the giveaway below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Everything We Think We Hear by Jose Angel Araguz

Everything We Think We Hear

by Jose Angel Araguz

Giveaway ends December 04, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

* sharing some news & some tanka!

Just a quick post to officially announce that my second full length collection of poetry, Small Fires, has just been accepted for publication in 2017 from FutureCycle Press. This collection will feature the poems “Joe” and “El Rio” among others.

FutureCycle are also the same good people who published my prose poem/flash fiction chapbook, Reasons (not) to DanceI’m excited to be working with them again. Stay tuned for further news come 2017.

To celebrate the Small Fires news, I thought I’d share my contribution to the Journeys into Tanka project that’s going on via the Tanka Society of America Facebook page. Poets were asked to share a tanka as well as some words on their journey into the form, what it means for them and how. Readers are welcome to respond in the comments with their own tanka and/or tanka-related prose.

Special thanks to Marilyn Hazelton, TSA president and editor of red lights, for the invitation to contribute!

tsa journeys

See you Friday!

José

* short lyrics: (pre)spring mix

As I am on the road – in Corpus Christi, Texas promoting Everything We Think We Hear to be exact – I thought I would do a short, fun post of some seasonal short lyrics. Could be that the winters in Cincinnati are tough that I’ve got spring on my mind already.

I’d like to say a special thanks to everyone who made it out to my readings this week. Thank you for braving a rather stormy week in Corpus Christi. A very special thanks as well to Alan Berecka and Tom Murphy for the opportunity to read at Del Mar College and TAMUCC, respectively.

Below are poems by Kay Ryan, Issa, Izumi Shikibu, and Edward Thomas. The Shikibu tanka is an old favorite of mine. I ran into it almost ten years ago in an essay by its translator, poet Jane Hirshfield. In writing about doing the translations for her book The Ink Dark Moon, Hirshfield’s essay broke down how in five lines Shikibu is able to present an image of enlightment (“moonlight”) reaching through to even the most materially impoverished life (“ruined house”).

Enjoy!

***

Spring – Kay Ryan

It would be
good to shrug
out of winter
as cicadas do:
look: a crisp
freestanding you
and you walking
off, soft as
new.

*
*
*

    The snow is melting
and the village is flooded

    with children.

Issa*
*
*
*
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks

of this ruined house.

Izumi Shikibu**
*
*
*
The Cherry Trees – Edward Thomas
***
The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.
*
*
Weeping-cherry-tree-arlington-cemetery-dc_-_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg
*
Happy (pre)springing!
*
*
José
*
*
*translated by Robert Hass
**translated by Jane Hirshfield & Mariko Aratani

* new online chapbook released!!!

“In the book of flight, plastic bags are brought in to do the work of clouds.

Dead leaves rest in the margins.

Grass clippings, eyelashes, fingernails: errata in the book of flight.”

(José Angel Araguz from The Book of Flight)

book of flight cover

Happy to announce the release of my latest online chapbook The Book of Flight published by Essay Press! Read it free online or download the chap in PDF here.

The Book of Flight is one of twelve winners in Essay Press’s first Digital Chapbook Contest. For this contest, Essay Press asked 12 recent Essay authors each to select and introduce a manuscript extending and/or challenging the formal possibilities of prose. I am honored to have my manuscript selected and eloquently introduced by the innovative author Misha Pam Dick.

Here is a brief description of the chapbook:

“José Angel Araguz’s The Book of Flight is a chapbook of aphoristic, fragmentary writings in the style of Ramon Gomez de la Serna’s greguerías and Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions. Described by Misha Pam Dick as “a four-part microtreatise-poem. Like aphorisms that don’t preen, or fragments that don’t mourn,” The Book of Flight lives somewhere between the insight of haiku, the personal heat of tanka, and the everyday tone of a poet’s notebook.”

This project is especially meaningful to me as it represents the culmination of many of the ideas and insights I have followed and exercised throughout various notebooks and other projects over the past ten years. “Clock Ode” in Reasons (not) to Dance as well as “Zoot Suit Riot” and “Moth Season” in Everything We Think We Hear are good examples of precursors to the sensibility that is in full force in this project.

Please read and share this free chapbook and stay tuned for the other eleven selections from Essay Press!

Thanks to Andy Fitch, Maria Anderson, and Aimee Harrison for all the hard work in putting together the chapbook. Thanks toAndrea Schreiber for the cover art and Courtney Mandryk for the cover design. And an extra special thanks to Misha Pam Dick for selecting the manuscript and writing the introduction!

See you Friday!

José

* tanka contest news!

Just a quick post to announce having placed 2nd in the 2015 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest. Here is my placing tanka:

table to table
the smile
of the waitress
never stops
working its wings

José Angel Araguz
Cincinnati, Ohio

Check out the rest of the results here.

Thank you to judges Carole MacRury and Laura Maffei! Thank you also to Janet Lynn Davis who surprised me with the news via phone last week!

The Tanka Society of America will be posting judges’ comments at a later time. I’ll make sure to keep you folks posted.

See you Friday!

Jose

* tanka, update, & news

after the discharge orders
we idle
at a stop sign
I haven’t heard
the birds til now

— Jose Angel Araguz

*

Just a quick post to update on life as well as to share news of a sale.

Update: I am happy to report that I was discharged from the hospital Friday afternoon and have been recuperating nicely. I even taught yesterday. I made sure to tell my students that I was happy to be in front of them again.

Thank you to everyone who helped me get through the difficult week/weekend. All the kind words and ‘likes’ of my previous post meant a lot to me.

*

Sale: Just got word from Flutter Press editor Sandy Benitez that all FP titles are on sale at 40% off including my own Corpus Christi Octaves.

This is significant on two levels: 1.) It’s the first time a chapbook of mine has been on “sale” (eek!), and 2.) This month marks the one year anniversary of Corpus Christi Octaves and the three year anniversary of my first chapbook The Wall.

I plan on sharing some readings from my recent trip to Texas to celebrate later this month. For now, check out the Flutter Press sale – including chaps by Dale Wisely, Howie Good, and Rachel Adams – here. 

The sale ends on July 13th.

*

See you this Friday!

Jose

* tanka & short post

* my window, for now *
* my window, for now *

from the 8th floor
a gray mist
over Cincinnati
what holds all of this
together?

— Jose Angel Araguz

*

Keeping it short due to being hospitalized earlier this week for some stomach issues. I’m writing this on Thursday,  still in my hospital room. More news to come.

I hope all of you are well. Thanks to everyone who has helped me through this difficult time. It is with sincere honesty that I say I am happy to be alive.

See you next Friday!

José

* new work at american tanka

Just a quick post to announce the release of American Tanka’s issue 25: “between cries.” The issue starts off with one of my own tanka, which can be read here.

In preparing to share the news, I found myself sketching back into the scene that inspired the tanka. Here is my best rendition of the field near our apartment in Albuquerque circa 2011:

* what he carries *
* what he carries *

The issue, which includes outstanding work by Michael Dylan Welch, Chen-ou Liu, Sanford Goldstein, and Wendy Bourke among others, can be read here.

Special thanks to Laura Maffei, editor of American Tanka, for including me in such a fine issue!

See you Friday!

Jose

* from hands to manos

* manos *
* manos *

This week’s post is a meditation on form via sharing some new publications.

First, the good folks over at Rattle have recently shared the content of their Summer 2014 issue online which includes my own poem “Abandoned Church.” Rattle is unique in that they ask for some insight into the work via the contributor’s bio, which allowed me to share a bit of my thinking behind the form of this and other kin poems:

“These poems come from working at times in a five-line form, which I call ‘hands,’ maybe because each could be written on the palm of a hand. I consider them the poetic, unkempt nephews to Yasunari Kawabata’s ‘palm of the hand’ stories. These pieces are surprising me, pushing me to be concise and spooky, narrative and imagistic within a limited frame.”

Read the poem “Abandoned Church” here.

I’m also happy to announce the release of the new issue of Inflectionist Review which includes my poems “First Night” and “Blue in the Rain” – the latter of which is also in the “hands” form. Check out the issue here.

My two guides into the form have been the short lyrics of Yannis Ritsos as well as my reading and writing in the Japanese tanka form. Here’s some of that Ritsos mojo:

A Door – Yannis Ritsos

The carpentry shop,
the ironmonger,
the grocery store,
the farmer’s rubber boots
on the porch,
the low, cloudy sky,
soapsuds,
and, so unexpectedly,
a blue door
fallen flat among the ruins
with the key
still in place.

***

Working in and out of various forms, I’m always curious if people take note or not. Ultimately, what matters is writing a solid poem worth rereading, which is the ongoing good fight.

Of course, all this talk of “hands” has me thinking about these guys:

* the hands of fate *
* the hands of fate *

Happy fating!

Jose

* another world with robert bly

The Moose – Robert Bly

 

The Arctic moose drinks at the tundra’s edge,
swirling the watercress with his mouth.
How fresh the water is, the coolness of the far North.
A light wind moves through the deep firs.

 

* fir crying out loud *
* fir crying out loud *

Reading this week, I came across these two short lyrics by Robert Bly. I love how in the lyric above there is a sound repetition going on: “moose drinks” followed by the sounds of “swirling the watercress” and on into the next line in “fresh” and “coolness” – all of it a subtle surge of sound.

A similar sense of sound governs the poem below, but also with it is a bit of that Deep Image mojo Bly and others helped to perfect. With the aptness and pacing of a great tanka, the lyric goes from a note on nature to a more personal, inner note. The last line leveled me with its directness: after the tension created between the fanciful note on the herons and the speaker’s inner turmoil, the clarity suggested in the last line evokes “another world” indeed.

Herons – Robert Bly

After trailing their bony legs the herons dance
in their crystal house far up near the clouds.
I need you in sand, touching your hand I weep.
In another world I am clear and transparent.

***

Happy clearing!

Jose