Eucalypt tanka journal, Issue 32, 2022 : update by Colleen Keating

 

Great to receive the latest Eucalypt tanka journal, Issue 32 , 2022,
find one of my tankas included – ‘flawed journey’
and to enjoy the leisure and pleasure in
dipping in and out of this enjoyable journal.
Thank you to the editor Julie Anne Thorndyke
for the wonderful presentation of our work.
I feel honoured to be included  . . .  named side by side with this
International group of Tanka writers

‘flawed journey’

eucalypt leaves
I search for the unblemished
only to realise
that beauty is in
their flawed journey

Last days of February : One Day at a Time 2 by Colleen Keating

 

” One cannot but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries
of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries to merely comprehend a little of this
mystery each day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.
– Albert Einstein

 

afternoon rain
dewdrops dazzle like
dangling fairy lights

rainbows
dew drops corralled
by sun beams

 

Tanka

morning Mozart plays
from a sleepy place I wake
with new energy
to face any curve ball
that is thrown my way

 

killing fields

the only sound aside from first wind rising
was the occasional brush of my footsteps
against soft cushion of earth
i looked out across the lake
the early dawn light
lay like a silver mirror
broken now and then
as several black cormorants
broke the surface and redived

in the far distance
the black swans grazed in sea grasses
and lone pelicans glided by
I watched the silver light of jumping fish
catch insects
then the pelican saw its opportunity
struck with violent grasp

grabbed the fish
its pouch beak
stretched and wriggling
while it shook its neck
and gulped the fish

I turned my attention to the paperbarks
and the symmetry
of the native miner’s wings
as it flies into a paperbark

and stand in shock
as it flew out
with the agonised death screech
of a cicada in its beak

is this place
that appears so tranquil
actually a killing field?

 

 

Merriment of  Frogs after the Rain

As the sun comes up
i walked towards the stand of swamp paperbarks
a sound like a freight train racing
through a country town
filled the air

closer it became more individual
like hearing each individual carriage clanking past
and then individual  rumbling croaks

yes the swamp was alive with frogs
all carousing and courting and
chatting
here was a living field
vibrant and alive

 

 

A Tree Kinship 

over the curve of my thoughts
comes a sound
amidst a stand of Paperbarks
they were not only breathing together
they were conversing

my heart wells up to bursting

every tree has such character
twisted and curved
not a straight line anywhere

all seem to be aware of each other
a tree kinship
each with unique characters

that breathe life  and meaning
and sanctity

the textured bark glistens with the
wash of the recent rain
in all the tones
of cream – coffee caramel tawny and wheat
desert  ochre copper  topaz and brown

 

 

 

A plaque on a seat at a lookout

How very lucky are we
to breathe salty air
and sit here by the sea

Lockdown walk No. 16: Finding inner solitude in days of uncertainity

 

dappled light
filters through swamp oaks ~
a cathedral  moment
as a tiding of magpies  
fills it with song

 

 

 

Finding inner solitude today in these final days of lockdown after 112 days of retreat from the world.

June 23rd we knew Lockdown was in inevitable and so we stopped at our small apartment in the coastal town The Entrance, which gave us the feeling of being on a retreat rather than being at home, rather than a holiday, because we could not travel further than 5km. Now it has been 16 weeks of  searching for inner solitude. My tanka above was not  the one chosen for the Eucalypt 31 but it speaks of our days here.It sums up the days of walks  the birds our only companions and the ‘being’  rather then the ‘doing’as the frameworks of meeting with family, friends, writing groups, art gallery, concerts, gatherings for launches and celebrations even funerals, fell away.

What are we left with we older ones who are not homeschooling. holding down  jobs, working from home and keeping spirits of children high.? 

Then I found the perfection of the sonnet by Longfellow speaks brilliantly of my sentiment. 
Emily Dickinson grapples with the same in her brilliant way.

Like Dickinson, Longfellow finds that the one-to-one confrontation occurs best in nature:

And now for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My Cathedral

Like two cathedral towers these stately pines
Uplift their fretted summits tipped with cones;
The arch beneath them is not built with stones,
Not Art but Nature traced these lovely lines,
And carved this graceful arabesque of vines;
No organ but the wind here sighs and moans,
No sepulchre conceals a martyr’s bones.
No marble bishop on his tomb reclines.
Enter! the pavement, carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing; all the birds,
In leafy galleries beneath the eaves,
Are singing! listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship without words.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807–82), American poet
– is known for ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and ‘The Village Blacksmith’ (both 1841) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855).

And now my  brilliant  friend  Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —  324 or 326

by Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —

I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —
I’m going, all along.

 

In the above photo
my cathedral is not of stately pines
but of vibrant grass trees and banksia
old river gums, iron barks and acacias
ancients rocks carved from wind and sea
and whispers of spirit under every footprint I take
and when I listen the choir in my cathedral
is full of the healing and comforting sounds of home

Colleen Keating

 

 

 

Eucalypt: A Tanka Journey celebrating 30 issues by Colleen Keating

 

Exciting to receive the latest Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal in the mail.  This month celebrating 30 issues of Tanka.

(Beverley George always  acclaimed for the first 20 issues.)

Thank you to the editor, Julie Thorndyke and congratulation on her very creative and thoughtful presentation of our tanka. Proud to see my name twice and feel privileged being included in every Eucalypt since I began writing Haiku and Tanka . . . the succinct intimate Japanese form of poetry.

Julie has her own new collection of stories Divertimento: Stories by Julie Thorndyke publ. Ginninderra Press 2021,  just recently published by Ginninderra Press so this is double congratulations  to her.  Julie spoke at Society of Women Writers of NSW last meeting  in Member Bites 

tanka from recent walks

eucalypt leaves
i search for the unblemished
realising
the beauty is in
the speckled and scarred

 

 

walking
on pink clouds
in wave washed sand
my toes encounter
the first touch of spring

 

ocean waves
roll in   roll out
give and take
as if they are the most
attentive listeners

Bowerbird tanka Workshop at Pearl beach Arboretum

Report on Bowerbird Tanka Workshop No. 21 –

by

Colleen Keating

 

Congratulations. The Bowerbird Tanka group, which convenes at Pearl Beach, has come of age. This is the 21st Tanka workshop. Thank you to Beverley for her constancy and dedication. I am a fairly newcomer but am amazed at her focus in the midst of so many other activities. 

The tanka date on our calendar is very special. And thanks to the delegates some of whom traveled from as from Tamworth, Canberra, Newcastle and Bathurst to share in the love of tanka.

Of course the drive to Pearl Beach is a journey in itself. One can notice the burdens being left behind as you drive down into its calm repose, cradled between forest and sea. When I arrived, there was already a buzz of friends meeting at Crommelin Cottage in the sanctuary of the Pearl Beach Arboretum. The tankaists so gathered were Beverley George, Michael Thorley, Carole Harrison, Beatrice Yell, Catherine Smith, Julie Thorndyke, Kent Robinson, Anne Benjamin, Dy Andreasen and Colleen Keating. Unable to attend – Marilyn Humbert, Hazel Hall, Kathy Kituai, Gail Hennessy, Samantha Hyde, Carmel Summers, Margaret Grace and Yvonne Hales .

Despite the pall of smoke that covered most of NSW,  the Arboretum continued to have its own ambience with a brush turkey that scratched through the leaf litter for its insects and bugs, mostly nearby the cottage as if it was eavesdropping on us. 

The first session on the programme – Share a favourite tanka written by someone you have never met but which had an influence on how you came to tanka. The presenters were Julie Thorndyke on a most appropriate tanka for the fire haze and acrid air we have been breathing, written by Debbie Strange, Canada.

Carole Harrison appraised a tanka by Sandi Pray [USA]

Kent Robinson appraised a tanka by Claire Everett. [UK]

Taking the time to focus on a tanka and listen to  the insights of one who has pondered on it for some time is a valuable and enriching exercise.

These sharings are available on the Eucalypt website under Bowerbird.

In the second session everyone then had the opportunity to share ‘a tanka which lingers.’ 

For this, each of us stands and shares a tanka without comment. The silence between each, is like the silence between breaths.  A moment of time to let the tanka resonate and become part of you. For me the power is like the collected wisdom of a group doubled, as we read and reflect on what another has reflected on and written.

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The next hour we were really spoilt with the presence of Tomoko Oka, a Japanese Calligraphy Artist.  Tomoko-san gave us a very gentle introduction to Calligraphy which was a practical exercise in brushing several kanji. It was an honour for all of us to be in her presence.  We all entered into the spirit of the exercise, which was centering and some of us found ourselves in a meditative state. This is one of the many arts that is done as only the Japanese know how.

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To finish off our morning, a local artist and musician Philip Rich played his guitar and sang a song he wrote and composed himself.  It was inspired by an acknowledgement to country he once heard. The refrain was ‘If you’re a friend of mother earth you tread softly on this land’. During our lunch it was time to share with each other and be serenaded by Phillip singing for us some of the work of Nobel winning poet, Bob Dylan and our own Casey Chambers.

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A highlight for all of us was the afternoon workshop given by Michael Thorley. 

The title of his workshop was  shasei – Where Tankaists Fear to Tread? Let’s Go There’.  

And go there we did, lead by Michael’s skilful presentation. For some of us, ‘shasei’ was a 

new term, a new concept and a very interesting style of writing Tanka.  It originated withwhose home some of us have had the honour of visiting in Matsuyama City on Shikoku Island, Japan.

It is a style of writing tanka where you emphasis ‘a sketch from life’ – writing of what one observes however mundane, so that the reader also experiences the scene and understands what has moved them. We had the sanctuary of the Arboretum to walk around and find our moment to try out writing our idea of shasei. We gathered again and shared our thoughts and words. 

The day ended with several reports from other tanka groups and our plan to regather in the Autumn of 2020.

Colleen Keating

FIRE ON WATER

fire-on-water-cover 2

 

FIRE ON WATER

It is an honour to have Beverley George with us this afternoon.

Beverley is renowned  nationally and internationally in the field of Japanese Poetry . She is a Writing Fellow of the Fellowship of Australian Writers and past editor of the journal Yellow Moon, the Society of Women Writers NSW Newsletter 2004-2006 and Eucalypt: a Tanka Journal which she edited for 10 years. Currently she edits Windfall: Australian Haiku .
How does one sum up such a body of work? How does one begin to speak about this talented writer, her achievements, publications and awards?
She was president of the Australian Haiku Society 2006-10 and has served as an international judge for Japanese poetic genre competitions in Japan , UK, US and Canada. Beverley has presented papers at two poetry conferences in Japan and has served as literary adviser to Mitsui Travel for six small group tours to Japan.

 

Beverley’s launch speech for “Fire on Water” by Colleen Keating

Welcome everybody and especial thank you to Colleen for inviting me to launch her lovely poetry collection: Fire on Water. An honour indeed.
The poetry in this book engages with so much that truly matters to the human heart and mind. Reading it, I am reminded of the words of the American poet Mary Oliver
“. . . For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”

[― Mary Oliver, ‘A Poetry Handbook’]

Even when writing on complex subjects, Colleen speaks clearly, without artifice. She doesn’t use ‘clever’ words; she uses right words; those words that fit best with the ideas she presents to us. Much thought and care have gone into their selection.
Many of the poems are concerned with social justice: such as the plight of refugees, or aspects of indigenous history but the poet’s voice remains compassionate, not sentimental.
The book itself is physically attractive, easy to use and isn’t that imaginative cover illustration by Elizabeth Keating-Jones, Colleen’s daughter so appealing? I love it.
You will soon notice that the poems are pleasingly grouped although not strictly sequential within those groups. Advantages of this formatting are that the reader can consider aspects of a particular topic at one reading and choose another topic the next time one picks up the book. It also makes it easy to relocate poems for further contemplation; those that we have particularly read and enjoyed. What did Colleen write about downsizing? About refugees? About aspects of nature?
An extremely relevant section for me right now, and I would presume for some others in this room is that of downsizing; disposing of some possessions treasured for a life-time; selling the family home with all its treasured memories of loved family members and pets.
Of particular impact is the brief poem on p. 35 “where’s home, Ulysses”. Lines such as
“where there is a home
make a house depersonalise
the real estate agent says

ebay vinnies salvos
devour my story
on the footpath garbage pick-up
my life exposed”

clearly convey the loss of control, the loss of property, the uncertainty that too often accompanies this rite of passage.

But Colleen’s poems travel through this difficult period with honesty and directness and resolve into thoughts not of just acceptance but of positivity and optimism for what is now possible; what lies ahead.

What comes through clearly and consistently in Colleen’s work, is a strong sense of social justice; deep concern for the plight of those others helpless to improve their own lives.
A particularly powerful poem can be found on. p.75 ‘Stillborn’. Colleen writes of:

“people seeking asylum
returned to face those they flee
history like a drawbridge is pulled up
closed off
humanity is stillborn”

and concludes with the challenging lines
“the everywoman in me weeps […]
if you are not weeping
ask why”

You’ve probably all heard of the Roland Barthes’ theory that once a piece of writing is public the role of the reader becomes active, as they bring their own experience and knowledge to interpreting the text; an interplay between writer and reader results. This suggests we each may read a poem slightly differently and of course you will choose which parts of this book are most relevant and intriguing for you. And this is as it should be.
In a few moments we will have the pleasure of hearing Colleen read some of her own work. Here’s a little advance notice; something I am hoping Colleen might tell us more about. Her fascination with the woman musician, herbalist and healer, Hildegard of Bingen.
A rich source of pleasure in this book comes with Colleen’s approach to writing about nature. These poems are detailed and convincing. The poet is looking hard and appreciating the world around her.
Whether she is writing about a physical location such as The Entrance; plants such as sunflowers, or a felled tree; creatures like a wood pigeon, a dragonfly or a hawk, her words reach out to us; draw us in.
Again, thank you for coming. It is now my very great pleasure to announce Fire on Water by Colleen Keating launched and ready for sharing. We will now hear from the poet, herself…over to Colleen.