Limestone Tanka Poets, 17th April 2011 meeting

The smell of gums in car park and wet-earth aroma rising from ferns under the bridge you cross as your make your way towards Hudson Cafe, where an intimate group of four Limestone Tanka Poets are to meet over coffee. It’s autumn, the trees dazzle in their Jacob clothing and what could be better than to write on location this time of the year, in the Canberra Botanical Gardens.

Facilitator, Kathy Kituai reports

So easy to fall into chat and laughter in such a relaxing location but Tessa Wooldridge soon sets the tone with her How-a-poet-works segment for the month. Hot drinks steaming beside us, we are treated to an example of a conversation Tessa had with a poem submitted for publication and an editor, eager to accept her work if she altered a word or two. Do we change our tanka and reap the reward of publication or withdraw them from circulation? Tessa chose neither option. Instead she thanked the editor for his helpful hints and presented him with a version that included words he wished to delete with a further resolution that was closer to her intentions. However had she not had this to-and-fro conversation with the editor, she may not have arrived at the poem’s ultimate expression. How-a-poet works with an editor, if done with the poet’s integrity in mind, can have the best outcome for all concerned.

We take advantage of the time we have to indulge in tanka talk, now that we are few in number and discuss at depth our challenges, intentions and resolutions. Tessa followed through with the suggestion last session to read Eucalypt, issue 7, (donated by Beverley George) in search of a poem that used all the senses and in the process discovered not just how many poems in this issue utilized five senses but how a poem reveals itself deeper if we sit with it.

When chuffs are picnicking on titbits in the café, blue wrens are calling in the shadows and you have come with notebook and pen (as we had) ready to write poetry of place, we soon leave John Vandergraaff at our table to write a tanka and disperse into the scrub. Twenty minutes later we all return with that glow tankasts get when turned loose in the environment but it’s Kate King who has two tanka to share and makes it clear, a third one she can’t quite find the words too, is the one she knows will be the best. The rest of us share images and phrases ready to work with later.

Kate will be our How-a-Poet-works guest speaker, a spot in our meeting that is most popular and informative, for the July 2011 meeting.

We missed Barbara C, Amelia F, June F, Gerry J, Saeko O and Michael T and saddened that they were unable to take part in such a joyful and enlightening meeting.