Canadian Marje A. Dyck has been a fixture on the haiku scene for many years. In a recent interview that you will enjoy, Marje tells us about her passion for haiku and tanka, the latter, five-line lyrical poems with a maximum of 31 syllables.
in the long cool evening
the sound of geese leaving
of a beach fire-
smoke over the river
in the shimmering
bend of the river
2) What are your four favorite tanka in Still Blue Water?
the forest at midnight
neither moon nor stars-
then going our own way
the wolf and I
of a deer on shore
heron in the reeds-
what more do I need
from this solitary moment
bordered with gold
can’t still these thoughts
can’t hold back
bloom on the cedar
the twilight snow
3) When did you first hear of haiku and tanka?
I was first introduced to haiku, when I happened to pick up a book of J.W. Hackett’s poems in the library. I was delighted with the form, and the simplicity of the poetry. I’ve been writing it ever since.
My love of tanka began when I was given Akiko Yosana’s Tangled Hair by a friend who brought it as a gift from England. This form of poetry appealed to me as a means to express personal feelings and ideas, as well as my love for nature.
4) When did you begin writing haiku and tanka?
I began writing haiku in 1986. My first published haiku was: rectangle of light/ janitor vacuums silently/in the night. This poem won a Japan Airlines contest in June 1988. My first chapbook of haiku was rectangle of light. (Publisher: proof press, Dorothy Howard)
I began writing tanka in 1994. My poem, a piece of the moon/is missing tonight/how empty the sound/my key turning/in the lock, won honors in Tanka Splendor that year.
My second book, A Piece of the Moon, was published in 2005. It is a collection of my haiku, tanka, and haibun, illustrated with several of my ink paintings. As well, many of my ink drawings have appeared on the covers of Haiku Canada Review, and in other journals such as Ribbons, moonset, and The Heron’s Nest.
5) What do you love about each of the forms?
Haiku allows me to think and write simply about nature. I’ve spent many years in Canada’s north country, and solitude and being out in nature have given me these small poems over the past twenty-eight years. Thinking in haiku makes me more observant and appreciative of the moment, and much more aware of the amazing details in nature. This awareness is a gift in a world that seems more and more oblivious to the wonders that surround us.
While haiku taught me to explore and enjoy nature, tanka gives me a vehicle to express feelings and observations about human nature, and to respond to life’s experiences.
Haiku has helped me to perceive nature and to appreciate nature, while tanka has enlarged my philosophical outlook about life and the world I live in.
6) What inspires you to write haiku? Tanka?
Being out in nature is the best place for me to write haiku. Sometimes, I write several in the space of a few hours on the beach at Dore Lake, and at other times, one will come to me almost anywhere I happen to be: a sudden inspiration. I have awakened in the middle of the night with a haiku begging to be written down, so I keep a pen and notepad on my night table. Haiku hones my thinking, and sharpens my perception of my surroundings. This can be therapeutic, as it takes one away from the multi-clutter that has become our world.
I also do photography, which is another way to relax, to observe and enjoy my surroundings. I have had both ink and photo haiga, (haiku combined with art), published in journals and online.
Because of my penchant for wandering in nature, I often sit and observe my surroundings, and I combine what I experience from this activity with my thoughts and feelings and memories in a tanka. It is a rich combination, and I have written many poems as a result.
Tanka gives me much more license with language to describe in metaphor, simile, etc. I have been writing tanka for twenty years. Lately, I have been collaborating with Angela Leuck, (Canadian poet from Quebec), on her upcoming book about “conversational tanka,” and returning to my childhood through poetry. It has inspired me to write about that perceptive time of my life, reminding me of my roots.
7) Do you do any other kind of writing?
I have had short stories, articles, prose poems, and free verse published in many journals, such as: Loch Raven Review, Freelance, Grain, Prairie Fire, in medias res (University of Saskatchewan), Freefall magazine, and the Star Phoenix (local newspaper). One of my short stories won a third place prize in a Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild contest. I have been a member of the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild for twenty years.
My haiku, tanka, haibun (prose piece with haiku), and haiga have been published in many journals, books, anthologies, and online. Just a few of the publications where my work has appeared are:
Modern English Tanka
Carpe Diem (Canadian anthology of Haiku)
World Haiku Review (third place – contest)
Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide For All, by Charlotte Digregorio
I have written a novel based in Northern Saskatchewan, but I consider myself more of a poet than a novelist!
You may contact Marje at <email@example.com>. She will be happy to email you information about her books.
May you receive abundant inspiration from Marje’s lovely haiku. Seek her poetry in choice journals!
Copyright 2014 by Charlotte Digregorio.