Limestone Tanka Poets

Blackburn Homestead Retreat 22nd – 24th June 2018

Apart from the chilly weather, the Limestone Tanka Poets Blackburn Homestead retreat (Yass) could not have gone any better; workshops were crammed with information and food bounteous and delicious. The first session on Saturday 23rd, Let’s Get Started (Kathy Kituai), focused on the inspirational power of mandala’s. When relaxing the mind into creative mode, nothing could be better or more fun.

Michael Thorley covered every possible way on how to check tanka before sending it off to be published in his session, Tweaking Tanka. Come Sunday 24th, Hazel Hall offered numerous ways in which to return to writing with ice breakers, writing prompts and exercises to try at home in her workshop, Getting (re) Started. Carmel picked up from there with a session on one of our most important senses, smell, and concentrated on how effective it is to infer what is smelt, rather than state it in words, and challenged us to write tanka with a partner doing just that. This was followed with Say That again (Kathy Kituai) which highlighted numerous ways to use repetition and a discussion on embedded tanka, another (recent and novel) form of repetition. Our free verse guest, Moya Pace, shared the way in which she had combined poetry and prose, which motived 11 poets who attended into deep discussion. But it’s not all heads down with pen and paper. Michel Brock set us dancing before lunch every morning to tanka by poets who inspire us. Saturday afternoon was given to loafing by the fire just to write freely.

Although surrounding paddocks were frozen, fires in lounge room and kitchen kept us warm, as did the one in the foyer on Saturday night when we hosted dinner for our hosts, James and Fiona, along with laughter, wine and food, an occasion not to be missed. Normally we retreat in April annually, relax in cane chairs on the verandah. Due to the lack of rain that normally fills water tanks at Blackburn Homestead this year, we deferred our refuge to June. What could be better (no matter what time of the year) than a retreat if it contains time to chat informally, poet-to-poet, face-to-face and pool our skills?

Kathy Kituai
Founder and facilitator of Limestone Tanka Poets
July 2018