Poetry: Thaw (Three-and-a-half Timid Tankas)

Read the poem here: Thaw: three-and-a-half Timid Tankas. For the story and some things I learned when writing it, read on.

Along my recent meanderings through the vast treasury of poetic forms, I've found myself attracted to strict syllabic forms (where syllable count/pattern is more important than meter/accents). Maybe it's because Spanish itself, the poetical music always in my head, has a more syllabic leaning than English, or maybe it's because it's easier to count syllables than to try and make stresses fall in a neat pattern.

Whatever it may be, the strictures of syllable count seem to force one to get rid of any words that would otherwise just be there to use space to make meter work or to adhere to prose conventions, distilling what one says to convey purer images (e.g. Ezra Pound's famous "in a station of the metro" or the minimalist beauty of haiku). And this mode of crafting poems seems to also influence a mode of thinking: how to put things on a poem that doesn't waste syllables, that says things clearly.

I don't think I'm there yet, to say things in true haikus or deceptively dense Pound-isms, but reading Borges's tankas, I realized the not-so-short-but-still-short form was a good thing to explore.

I set out to look for an experience when a poem would beckon me to write it in tankas, and it happened earlier this month, walking from work to the train on an unnaturally warm winter evening, feeling not so great about my desire to write more. However, this dejection has proven to be self-destructive in the past, so not only did I go ahead and write a few tankas.

And in trying to combat the self-doubt, I also submitted it to OCPoetry, a subreddit dedicated to budding (or experienced) poets, to share their work and give and get feedback.

It's a scary experience, to put one's darlings on the internet asking explicitly for feedback, but the community is extremely nice and knowledgeable, and the requirement to give two pieces of feedback before submitting a poem was a rewarding experience: I had to go and google a bunch of terms I didn't know enough about, to give fair feedback to my peers. I also submitted the villanelle I posted about earlier, and it inspired one of the poets in the community to write their own (in my opinion, his is infinitely better than mine, so that moment of sharing inspiration was extremely rewarding).

I shall be trying to do more than that, to give and receive feedback, as I trudge along in the path of poetry.