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Tension


RHommel
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This is probably about as close as I get to a love poem... another tanka-esque piece from that series.

 

 

Tension

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick;

a glossy veneer.

His embrace like a pin prick;

bloodletting is comforting.

 

~Rachel J. Hommel

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accurately captures the dynamic of many relationships

 

This made me flinch, despite it's being an interesting and thoughtful observation. Either many relationships are as horrible as I have feared, or I didn't get my point across effectively. Honestly, it could be either... and neither one is a terribly pleasing thought. Haha.

 

Thank you, Tony. :icon_cool:

 

~Rachel

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accurately captures the dynamic of many relationships

 

This made me flinch, despite it's being an interesting and thoughtful observation. Either many relationships are as horrible as I have feared, or I didn't get my point across effectively. Honestly, it could be either... and neither one is a terribly pleasing thought. Haha.

 

Thank you, Tony. :icon_cool:

 

~Rachel

I certainly don't have statistics or a lot of personal experience, but from the looks of things out there, I'm afraid so.:rolleyes: Then again, I took it metaphorically. Perhaps it was literal?

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Then again, I took it metaphorically. Perhaps it was literal?

 

Heavens, no! Goodness, that would be a bleak outlook, wouldn't it?

 

If you think of the word "His" as a more umm... proper pronoun, it might change your view on the piece. I think that makes it more introspective, but less of a love poem. Perhaps I could fix that with a bit of punctuation help from our beloved waxwings... :D Maybe my introduction was as much to blame for that.

 

~Rachel

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This is probably about as close as I get to a love poem... another tanka-esque piece from that series.

 

 

Tension

 

A sinew of pain

holds my skin taut and slick,

a glossy veneer.

His embrace is a pinprick,

bloodletting is a comfort.

 

~Rachel J. Hommel

 

To keep my 'five cents' short, I am forced to red-pencil edit your tanka to convey possible alternatives, such as might be posed by your publisher's copy editor.

 

I love the poem that lies at the core of the lines you have written and trying to not disfigure it to your inner eye which you must trust over anything I say.

 

More generally, and beyond punctuation, I'm editing the words which make the lyrically excellent central poem into a slightly dispassionate narrative. The syntactical structure is typically Japanese like, except that the punctuation is more like that in discursive prose.

 

'The sinew' makes me feel you expect reader to know which of all the possible sinews (that you do not mention) is that of pain.

 

If this is a love poem or quite nigh-to a one, why the narrative 3rd person, "her". Seeing "you" in the poem makes it tenfold more powerful

 

Metaphor is more effective than simile, introduced by "like".

 

Semicolons are prosy. In discursive writing, they point to a independent, complete clause bound to the sentence (like an appositive to the preceding clause) to explain/underline in a alternative way what was said by the preceding.

 

I hope to hear from you if I have misinterpreted your intent.

Edited by waxwings
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Tension

 

A sinew of pain

holds my skin taut and slick,

a glossy veneer.

His embrace is a pin-prick,

bloodletting is a comfort.

----------

To keep my 'five cents' short, I am forced to red-pencil edit your tanka to convey possible alternatives, such as might be posed by your publisher's copy editor.

 

I love the poem that lies at the core of the lines you have written and trying to not disfigure it to your inner eye which you must trust over anything I say.

 

More generally, and beyond punctuation, I'm editing the words which make the lyrically excellent central poem into a slightly dispassionate narrative. The syntactical structure is typically Japanese like, except that the punctuation is more like that in discursive prose.

 

'The sinew' makes me feel you expect reader to know which of all the possible sinews (that you do not mention) is that of pain.

 

If this is a love poem or quite nigh-to a one, why the narrative 3rd person, "her". Seeing "you" in the poem makes it tenfold more powerful

 

Metaphor is more effective than simile, introduced by "like".

 

Semicolons are prosy. In discursive writing, they point to a independent, complete clause bound to the sentence (like an appositive to the preceding clause) to explain/underline in a alternative way what was said by the preceding.

 

This is AWESOME!! There is SO much to this response, waxwings. Wow. Thank you!! Let me take this in a piece at a time here...

 

Firstly, I LOVE the red-pencil edit, and was especially falttered by your reference to the idea that I might actually have a publisher, which officially, I do not. :D

 

Next, before I posted it I looked over the punctuation and wondered if I should change it based on what I've learned thus far here, but decided to wait and see what you might do with it, if anything... I like all of the changes except the last line... I think I'll keep my line for that one. I just like how it sounds a little better.

 

I also really appreciate your illustration for me of syntax versus punctuation. It made a lot of sense, as did the part about "the sinew" being "that" of pain. Got it. Point well taken. Love it. And the metaphor versus simile is a definite improvement over my original.

 

Thank you too for the reminder that love poems are better when personal. It's fascinating to me that I tend to do the opposite: I depersonalize my love poetry and personalize everything else. There's plenty of reasons for that, but none of them make sense for poety. :D

 

~Rachel

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Tension

 

A sinew of pain

holds my skin taut and slick,

a glossy veneer.

His embrace is a pin-prick,

bloodletting is a comfort.

----------

To keep my 'five cents' short, I am forced to red-pencil edit your tanka to convey possible alternatives, such as might be posed by your publisher's copy editor.

 

I love the poem that lies at the core of the lines you have written and trying to not disfigure it to your inner eye which you must trust over anything I say.

 

More generally, and beyond punctuation, I'm editing the words which make the lyrically excellent central poem into a slightly dispassionate narrative. The syntactical structure is typically Japanese like, except that the punctuation is more like that in discursive prose.

 

'The sinew' makes me feel you expect reader to know which of all the possible sinews (that you do not mention) is that of pain.

 

If this is a love poem or quite nigh-to a one, why the narrative 3rd person, "her". Seeing "you" in the poem makes it tenfold more powerful

 

Metaphor is more effective than simile, introduced by "like".

 

Semicolons are prosy. In discursive writing, they point to a independent, complete clause bound to the sentence (like an appositive to the preceding clause) to explain/underline in a alternative way what was said by the preceding.

 

This is AWESOME!! There is SO much to this response, waxwings. Wow. Thank you!! Let me take this in a piece at a time here...

 

Firstly, I LOVE the red-pencil edit, and was especially falttered by your reference to the idea that I might actually have a publisher, which officially, I do not. :D

 

Next, before I posted it I looked over the punctuation and wondered if I should change it based on what I've learned thus far here, but decided to wait and see what you might do with it, if anything... I like all of the changes except the last line... I think I'll keep my line for that one. I just like how it sounds a little better.

 

I also really appreciate your illustration for me of syntax versus punctuation. It made a lot of sense, as did the part about "the sinew" being "that" of pain. Got it. Point well taken. Love it. And the metaphor versus simile is a definite improvement over my original.

 

Thank you too for the reminder that love poems are better when personal. It's fascinating to me that I tend to do the opposite: I depersonalize my love poetry and personalize everything else. There's plenty of reasons for that, but none of them make sense for poety. :D

 

~Rachel

 

I may never have a publisher, but writing w/o the thought I might have one sometime is like auto-eroticism. I'm glad you see that "a sinew" is softer and does not pin you down to explaining which of all is "the" sinew... Please ponder the last line's edit. Much has been said re avoiding gerunds unless one is the the only or the most suitable form vs. the substantive or a synonymous/equivalent adjective. I find saying, "you are a comfort" (metaphoric) emotionally more fetching than "you are comfortable".

 

Why do you say "syntax versus punctuation". What I mean is that, in verse, we tend, for good and valid reasons, to put words, phrases and clauses into a non-syntactical order and need the appropriate punctuation to show that we have done so. A panda is not an animal that "eats, shoots and leaves", but one that eats only the shoots and leaves of the bamboo.

Edited by waxwings
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Why do you say "syntax versus punctuation". What I mean is that, in verse, we tend, for good and valid reasons, to put words, phrases and clauses into a non-syntactical order and need the appropriate punctuation to show that we have done so. A panda is not an animal that "eats, shoots and leaves", but one that eats only the shoots and leaves of the bamboo.

 

Firstly, I adore that book! Obviously didn't get much out of it, but I definitely enjoyed it, nonetheless. :D

 

I suppose that I really meant to express my appreciation for your differentiation between the two... as I guess I sometimes confuse them for having the same purpose.

 

Thanks!

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Hi Rachel,

 

I want to say I like the ending line "bloodletting is comforting" as much as "the color of tar is white" in your other tanka. No matter how it is going to be worded (or not), the idea is great. The tension is strained through the use of words "taut", and released by "a pin prick", which comes to the conclusion of the last line.

, "pain"

Tension

 

A sinew of pain

holds my skin taut and slick,

a glossy veneer.

His embrace is a pin-prick,

bloodletting is a comfort.

 

 

If this is a love poem or quite nigh-to a one, why the narrative 3rd person, "her". Seeing "you" in the poem makes it tenfold more powerful

 

Not sure why, I feel the two pronouns of "my" and "his" in this poem odd. Why not "my skin" and "your embrace" as opposed to "my skin" and "his embrace"?

 

Just a thought.

 

Lake

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Why not "my skin" and "your embrace" as opposed to "my skin" and "his embrace"?

 

Thanks for weighing in, Lake. I especially appreciate the confidence in my last line, which I do think I will keep.

 

In answer to your question above, I wanted to keep the "His" because it could also serve as a theological reference as well as a romantic one... which when combined with the topic of tension, pain, etc... makes sense. At least for me. :)

 

I'm really happy to have found you all... there is so much wisdom here.

 

~Rachel

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goldenlangur

Hi Rachel,

 

Another great tanka-like poem with much potential. You have a great short/long/short/long/long lines which look good on the screen and this visual impact is vital for the Japanese short poems. You're right that feelings and thoughts can be expressed indirectly without assuming the first person voice in a poem and by extension in a tanka. Keeping this in mind but also allowing for tanka's lyrical tone, word play and some poignancy, if I may suggest:

 

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick;

a glossy veneer.

His embrace like a pin prick;

bloodletting is comforting.

 

 

L3 is a statement and also evokes for me wood varnish. That same sense can be expressed in a more indirect way:

 

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick

if only he knew

his embrace is a pin prick

and blood letting is painless

 

 

Here you have a word play on pain/painless and the questioning in L3 allows for emotion to show through and also works as a pivot - the line (usually L3) that allows a tanka to be read as two whole stand-alone poems. I added and in your final line to keep the rhythm in the tanka - an important criterion.

 

tanka like haiku do not have independent titles. Both forms take titles from either the first line or one of the lines in the poem. Would you consider sinew of pain? It is evocative and arresting. I have also removed punctuation as tanka like the haiku is a one-breath poem and ideally the reader should be able to read the caesura and other markers of punctuation from the way the images are presented.

 

I agree with the other reviewers that your imagery is strong and original and worth just tweaking a bit to bring out that pathos that tanka allows.

 

 

As ever, yours to ignore or consider.

 

 

Looking forward to more tanka.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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L3 is a statement and also evokes for me wood varnish. That same sense can be expressed in a more indirect way:

 

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick

if only he knew

his embrace is a pin prick

and blood letting is painless

 

Hi goldenlangur,

 

Thank you so much for your thoughtful critique. Now I remember where I read about the lack of punctuation in tanka and why I called this poem tanka-like. That said, I do like your version without punctuation, but honestly you have changed much of the meaning of my poem with your other proposed changes. I'm glad that your impression of L3 was of wood varnish... as it is all the more uncomfortable when used to describe skin, don't you think? Your change of the last line, however, eliminates the subtle nuance of the meaning of comfort. A pin prick is not painless (nor is bloodletting), but it can relieve tension through the administration of pain, hence the title and the use of the word comfort. I suppose I shall continue to write tanka-like poems and not true tanka. :D

 

~Rachel

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Hi Rachel,

 

I want to say I like the ending line "bloodletting is comforting" as much as "the color of tar is white" in your other tanka. No matter how it is going to be worded (or not), the idea is great. The tension is strained through the use of words "taut", and released by "a pin prick", which comes to the conclusion of the last line.

, "pain"

Tension

 

A sinew of pain

holds my skin taut and slick,

a glossy veneer.

His embrace is a pin-prick,

bloodletting is a comfort.

 

 

If this is a love poem or quite nigh-to a one, why the narrative 3rd person, "her". Seeing "you" in the poem makes it tenfold more powerful

 

Not sure why, I feel the two pronouns of "my" and "his" in this poem odd. Why not "my skin" and "your embrace" as opposed to "my skin" and "his embrace"?

 

Just a thought.

 

Lake

 

A most appropriate thought, Lake, but whether the poem should use "his" or "your" embrace depends on whether the author intends to adress HIM or is relating her feelings to the 'reader'.

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Hi Rachel,

 

Another great tanka-like poem with much potential. You have a great short/long/short/long/long lines which look good on the screen and this visual impact is vital for the Japanese short poems. You're right that feelings and thoughts can be expressed indirectly without assuming the first person voice in a poem and by extension in a tanka. Keeping this in mind but also allowing for tanka's lyrical tone, word play and some poignancy, if I may suggest:

 

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick;

a glossy veneer.

His embrace like a pin prick;

bloodletting is comforting.

 

 

L3 is a statement and also evokes for me wood varnish. That same sense can be expressed in a more indirect way:

 

 

The sinew of pain

holds her skin taut and slick

if only he knew

his embrace is a pin prick

and blood letting is painless

 

 

Here you have a word play on pain/painless and the questioning in L3 allows for emotion to show through and also works as a pivot - the line (usually L3) that allows a tanka to be read as two whole stand-alone poems. I added and in your final line to keep the rhythm in the tanka - an important criterion.

 

tanka like haiku do not have independent titles. Both forms take titles from either the first line or one of the lines in the poem. Would you consider sinew of pain? It is evocative and arresting. I have also removed punctuation as tanka like the haiku is a one-breath poem and ideally the reader should be able to read the caesura and other markers of punctuation from the way the images are presented.

 

I agree with the other reviewers that your imagery is strong and original and worth just tweaking a bit to bring out that pathos that tanka allows.

 

 

As ever, yours to ignore or consider.

 

 

Looking forward to more tanka.

 

Even though I concur w/much of what you say, gl!, (I like your edits, except the tone of what R writes begs for a "but" not "and" in last line) question is how close must a 'tanka in English' conserve the intrinsic characteristics of the traditional form.

 

That form is said to shun run-on or wrap-around lines. Moreover, Japanese writing uses special words instead of punctuation to delineate the images thoughts encapsulared in each line. I avoid would punctuation if I can phrase each line to make it complete in sense not relying orthographically but semantically on what the other lines say. And then, are tanka not supposed to be untitled?

 

I think Rachel has a very laudable style, and we should let the quality of her poem not depend on being a tanka. So what if the syllable count reminds us of one. Why should we not look at any syllable count as merely an accident in generating most respectable poetry.

 

To argue any further, I would have to know more beyond the say-so that a tanka was primarily written to celebrate/summarize some event, like a gala dinner at Edo. :wine:

Edited by waxwings
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goldenlangur
Thank you so much for your thoughtful critique. Now I remember where I read about the lack of punctuation in tanka and why I called this poem tanka-like. That said, I do like your version without punctuation, but honestly you have changed much of the meaning of my poem with your other proposed changes. I'm glad that your impression of L3 was of wood varnish... as it is all the more uncomfortable when used to describe skin, don't you think? Your change of the last line, however, eliminates the subtle nuance of the meaning of comfort. I suppose I shall continue to write tanka-like poems and not true tanka. :D

 

~Rachel

 

 

I do apologize Rachel if my suggestions of tweaking some lines of your poem seemed harsh and to take away the 'integrity' of the feeling in your poem.

 

Re your point here

 

A pin prick is not painless (nor is bloodletting), but it can relieve tension through the administration of pain, hence the title and the use of the word comfort.

 

 

You're absolutely right that blood-letting is not without pain and that the idea of comfort there is a poignant detail. There's a word play and nuances at work, including that of irony in these Japanese short forms and my suggestion of painless was in keeping with this. A kind of saying what is in an ironical way so that the reader feels that thrust of pain all the more as it is suggested rather than spelled out.

 

 

Here is an email I got from Dave Bacharach, the Editor of Ribbons, a major tanka journal of the Tanka society of America

 

....my approach to editing other people's poems as well as to composing my own has nothing to do with original intention. I make my own poems work, and if that means changing their initial thrust and meaning, or even outright lying, that's fine with me. All that matters to me is the finished product as a stand alone poem--it's a piece of artifice (art), not journalism. If I wish to right literal or factual truth, I do it in a different genre. I let the poem go where it needs to go to be an aesthetically effective poem; lies, distortions, half-truths, outright fictions are fine if the poem works well.

 

Others take a very different approach, and regard their poetry as a form of living testement. They feel that in some way the "integity" of the poem is compromised if it violates literal fact. The problem occurs when their devotion to the literal truth and the aesthetic demands of the compositional process come into conflict. And I think that unless the writer is something of a genius, that conflict is often inevitable. So the question is: do you sacrifice the quality of the poem to the "truth" or the "truth" to the quality of the poem? And more to the point: is literal "truth" the only truth, or does some truth more profound emerge when the poem is allowed evolve in any direction that works well.

 

You have some great tanka journals and online publications in your part of the world. There's so much to read, discover and experiment with. I hope you will continue to explore this form and not be put off by my seemingly harsh feedback.

 

 

A few links:

 

http://www.tankaonline.com/

 

 

http://www.themetpress.com/tankacentral/publish/

 

 

The second one give further links to other journals, some of which may have been revamped, retitled or even gone of out publications but the archives of old submissions might still be worth a read.

 

 

I wish you happy discovery and fun with this form. It is challenging but rewarding too.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Thank you, goldenlangur.

 

It is I who needs to apologize. I've been going through a rough patch personally, and I let my frustration slip out here. I will most likely be away from the board here for a while until I sort some things out.

 

Thanks,

Rachel

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