Online internet courses by Call of the Page

Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address: admin@callofthepage.org
We will let you know more about these courses.

Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Orrin Tyrell

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Orrin Tyrell




Orrin Tyrell, also known as matsukaze, and many other names is a classical music singer who lives in Texas. He is known for his experimental, sensitive, lyrical and detailed down to earth expression in the manner of the Japanese masters.

A man of many names but only one style, that of engaging many of us with highly original work via numerous poetic art forms, here Area 17 focuses on his “single line haiku” aka monoku.


Orrin says:

“Hey there, my name is Orrin and I'm a Black poet. Like Black artists before me, I seek to tell my black-stories & experiences as well as speak on black cultural/social matters through the medium of poetry. I am also a black actor & vocalist.”

Black Regards,
O. Tyrell PréJean




As Orrin had this recently posted up on The Haiku Foundation organisation’s banner, I couldn’t resist adding this to the monoku that Orrin had sent me on request.


waxing moon dead body artfully arranged

– Orrin Tyrell


Publication credit:
The Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem theme of Crimes of Passion curated by Michael H. Lester (Friday 7th August 2020)

We instantly have a haiku with an automatic seasonal note (“kigo” in Japan) letting us know it’s Autumn (the Fall). 

The next two words are startling and foreboding, and ‘artfully arranged’ makes me wonder if this is an art installation, or has there been a murder?   Throughout this feature Orrin will tell us about his haiku, and that many though fictionalized are ALWAYS with an element of truth that burns brightly.






Orrin tells us:

My introduction to haiku and tanka came in 2006 through poet/professor/activist Dr. Sonia Sanchez. I was immediately intrigued by this small poetic form that could hold the entirety of existence in it. It would be some years before I decided to look at the ku tradition through the eyes of Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki.

I’d been in a love/hate relationship with haiku since the beginning. I struggled to find my voice and make haiku adapt to my daily needs. I didn't understand kigo and wasn't sure it was necessary for me. I felt 'i'm not Basho, im not even Japanese' and so i wrestled with it and got frustrated with it and walked away with it. 

I discovered Marlene Mountain, R. C Matsuo-Allard, and eventually Hiroaki Sato and immediately fell in love with the monoku/monolinear approach of writing haiku; and by Marlene Mountain i saw that haiku could indeed hold what many told me it could not. It was then that I turned to senryu.

Of course I learned of senryu via Blyth; but I didn't like what i was reading. I wanted my senryu to be diaristic in nature, i wanted them to be more literary, haikuish, and even tanka-like. There were a few senryu poets that eventually attracted me to that type of senryu: Mizuhara Setsuko, Tokizane Shinko, Onishi Yasuyo, and a few Japanese-American Senryuist (Sanae, George Oyo, Kaho Honda, Gengoro, Jakki, Sunny Seki) and a few others that showed me that senryu could read like a diary entry or such.

Also after really immersing myself in the haiku of Marlene Mountain, I subsequently fell in love with the haiku of Fay Aoyagi and Roberta Beary; who put so much of themselves in ku. It was Fay Aoyagi that said in the preface to her book "Chrysanthemum Love" that "If you believe haiku must be about nature, you may be disappointed with my work.”

There is a lot of “me” in my haiku. I write very subjectively. I am not interested in Zen and the oriental flavor to which some Western haiku/tanka poets are attracted. I love the shortness and evocativeness of haiku. I don’t write to report the weather. I write to tell my stories." I would extend this sentiment by saying, i also write to tell my fantasies/imaginations; this is why I write…





sunset: most of my ku fictionalized

most of what i write is fictionalized. not all of it, but most of it. not sure how many can remember or even know about the ‘haiku wars’ of the seventies, but a part of those haiku wars were those who composed what was called ‘desk-ku;’ or haiku that was written from an idea or putting together words; not the normal moment of inspiration etc. this is largely what i do when writing. 

slicing through this summer rain-black sedan

as this world becomes what it has always been, which is too mad, too loud etc some of us are striving to find simple beauty anywhere. for me i happened to catch a commercial or something on television that had falling rain and a black car driving through it. these kinds of images are what i consider romantic...even sensual.



Dante's 9th circle - a night spent drinking cheap wine

I was watching a favorite horror/supernatural genre show on Netflix, incidentally titled “Supernatural.” and one of the characters made mention of a certain place in Hell that immediately brought Dante’s 9th circle to mind. i was also indulging in Crown Royal Whiskey, which I don’t consider cheap (smile), but somehow having the whiskey in this ku; cheapened seems to complete the picture. 



dark color of whiskey rawness of the Blues

when it comes to drinking, im what’s called a ‘lightweight.’ meaning i can’t really drink too much of anything strong; otherwise it will put me out! ive never been a drinker. i usually stick with wines and even wine-coolers. lately, ive fallen in love with Crown Royal mixed with Coca-Cola and the dark color of both whiskey and coca cola are another one of those things i consider to be sensual. the Blues is also in that category. the Blues which are usually associated with sorrow and were called ‘sorrow-songs’ originated in the Deep South of the USA. They come from a mix of work-songs, and spirituals, as well as call-and-response songs who’s tradition goes back to traditional African music. They are kind of like secular ‘spirituals.’ The Blues were always based on melancholy and sorrow, and as they evolved; they also became songs that touched on every minutiae of the human condition.



still finding love - life in this 'burning house' 

this ku was inspired after reading the translation of a haiku by Issa:

life in a burning house–
but cool air
awakens me

David G. Lanoue’s commentary says that the phrase “life in a burning house” is a playful allusion to a passage in the Lotus Sutra in which people lost in delusion are as three children playing in a house fire. for me the phrase ‘life in this burning house’ references this world and the current state it is in all over; and that even in the midst of all this bedlam and ‘burning,’ there are many great things that can still be found and experienced (ie love).




brushwood fence no haiku moment when i write'em

the first time i ever saw haiku/ku written about haiku was in the ku of Marlene Mountain. Mountain is the first poet I discovered within the haiku community that took haiku and made it her own. Mountain wrote about things that I thought could not be included in a haiku, and she didn’t call it a senryu or zappai. what i want to convey here is that when it comes to writing haiku/monoku...im always in a haiku moment, not waiting for one to arrive etc. 



sunset children's laughter last thing i see

this ku is interesting because another thing, when i write haiku i often ‘bite off of’ another haiku poet. i’ll usually use a phrase or two from a haiku or tanka poet’s piece to make my own ku. there’s an ancient technique present in Japanese waka/tanka tradition called, ‘honkadori’ which is the allusive borrowing of phrases and units from well known poets and using those phrases/units to make a wholly different ku or ka (tanka). this is a practice that pays homage to a certain person’s ku or ka; while using that particular piece in order to make  a fresh ku/ka that may or may not have anything to do with the ku or ka you borrowed from. this particular ku was done kind of when i was outside of myself, and somehow i thought about Basho’s cicada cry sinking into stone: 

stillness 
sinking into the rocks–
cicada’s cry 



emptying the trash he likes Tacitus and Kendrick Lamar

beauty can be found anywhere in life, im discovering; even in the juxtaposition of Tacitus, a Roman historian/politician with Kendrick Lamar American Rapper, Songwriter, Businessman, Actor and Pulitzer winner.


so much anger lives in his poems felled oak

This poem actually came out of a few conversations i had with a dear poet/mentor about another of my favorite poets. this mentor was telling me how great of a poet this haikuist was until she let all of her anger into her poems. 



spring-summer cusp what does life amount to

as Spring turns into Summer, i wonder at least a few times daily; what this life will amount too.


casual sex darkness of aged whiskey

when i was younger, and wild; it was casual hook-ups that were the ‘it’thing. as i’ve gotten older, i find that it’s aged whiskey.



spring sun black kids play 'freeze tag'

childhood memories. the carefreeness. the possibilities. the simplicity of it all. listening to the laughter of some kids, brought these things and more back to mind. 


rain falling seated in silence with an old pain

depression and anxiety are old ‘friends’ that often run through my family. one afternoon here comes a severe thunderstorm and there i am, just there with memories, and trauma/pain.


Father's Day my inner child in a corner sobbing

today is Father’s Day. i lost my father when i was eighteen, back in 1998. today i looked into myself and observed my inner child weeping, just weeping. 



full moon i transform you transform we all transform

writing this one, i thought of the lyrics, “everything must change, nothing stays the same…’ 


summer roses slowly discovering myself 

i ran across a beautiful painting of roses (i think) by the amazing Alexis Rotella; and instantly out of my subconscious came this ku. At this time in my life, I am thirty-eight, soon to be thirty-nine in October; and for the fist time in many years...im beginning to discover myself bit by bit. Its a sweet-painful situation...like roses (fragrance and thorns); but that is as it should be. 

***


Orrin PreJean lives in Dallas, Texas USA. 

He's a tale-weaver who enjoys the shortness of ku and ka with which to tell stories. 


Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Mary Jo Balistreri







Mary Jo Balistreri
Writer and Musician



I live in Waukesha, Wisconsin and began writing haiku in 2014 with the mentoring skills of Ferris Gilli. I knew nothing about haiku except what I thought were the rules of 5-7-5. I had a lot to learn and Ferris was there until she felt I could walk by myself. 

I begin with this free verse poem because the word, Yes, has always propelled me forward even when afraid—most often then. My mother taught me at a young age to look at the world with a positive attitude. It began with the uncertainty of walking to the garage in the dark. She walked with me the first time, then asked me to try. I did and felt such a wave of excitement that I could do something while feeling petrified. Yes, moving forward, has been my nudge throughout the life crisis we all encounter. 



I Say Yes

Shimmering but cold, late afternoon rides
across day. Pushed by wind, the Gulf moves
fast but without ripples. And though the wind
negates the sun’s warmth, it cannot erase 
the diamond-dazzle, or sheen of light
swallowing sailboats in its maw. 
Gerard Manley Hopkins comes in on a wave—
on a wave his concept of inscape, living into
the thing, living into this blinding brightness,
entombed in its womb—saltwater sea,
amniotic fluid, floating cloud.
I cannot explain what’s happening or the rise
of joy. But I say Yes. Yes to everything. 




Blue

Florida’s gulf stream
indigo aqua marine turquoise
mangrove forests midnight blue
Egyptian blue herons water and sky
sapphire Greek stone of clarity destiny

Purple shadows at dusk
boughs of blue spruce
steel green of winter air

The Hope Clinic a storm
gusts of snow laundered with bluing
blue star tattooed on my throat
color of hope—color of healing

amulets electric blue pulses 
repelling evil eye 
Cosmic blue from Venus to Saturn
Light blue to dark   birth to death
creation chaos cells radiation
mood ring of change

I include this poem which comes from the middle of my life, arguably the greatest challenge in my life—the diagnosis of cancer and the loss of my hearing. My thought was to take a color and see if I could describe a whole life experience. I also chose blue because it encapsulates for me a belief I have as a writer—that we are always writing our own biography—and the raw material we continue to mine from is our childhood—the world we were born into—its physical presence as place, the emotional landscape, the attributes we were born with, develop or erase with the environment.



After Loss of Grandsons, Wisconsin Musician Turns to Poetry
Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci interviews Wisconsin author, musician and poet Mary Jo Balistreri.
[includes audio recording]









Haiku with commentaries




harmonizing
with the hemlock wind…
winter wren


Holden Arboretum Season of Haiku Trail, 2018




my father’s whistle in a blade of grass


the heron’s nest: 17.4, december, 2015


My dad was an Indian Scout from his early years in South Dakota, and he passed his love of nature on to us. He was a birder, a hiker, collector of unusual stones. We learned how to use binoculars, how to wait patiently and listen. We moved from state to state, and Dad felt the best way to appreciate the environment was to walk, use our senses, observe. 




migration
without borders
monarchs

frogpond, fall 2018
a hole in the light, the red moon anthology, 2018


In the meadows around our home in Minnesota filled with wildflowers and milkweed, we’d often take a blanket and picnic there after church—three kids and our parents. While mom and dad talked, we’d pick wild strawberries for dessert, pick buttercups, splash around in the creek. Today when I think of that freedom, borders becomes a catch word for loss—not only the dwindling of monarch butterflies, but also of people crossing.



finding my friend’s name
    a cherry blossom
         kind of day


golden triangle, washington dc USA feb. 2018


I visited Washington DC to see the Vietnam memorial for the first time in 1986 and in 1998 was able to find my friend’s name. The cherry trees were in full bloom as my friend had been when he left for the war. What a reminder of impermanence.




pink-tinged clouds…
the petals begin to fall
in abundance

Mary Jo Balistreri
  
Masters of Japanese Prints: Haiku
In autumn 2019, poets from around the world responded to a call for haiku, a form of short Japanese poetry, based on Japanese prints in the collection at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (England UK). People sent in more than 800 beautiful, thought-provoking poems from thirty countries worldwide.


Being able to spend as much time as I liked with these amazing woodblock prints was pure joy.

I’m still looking at them and feel it such an honor to have had one of my haiku selected. 

A note from Alan Summers:
The museum end up receiving over 900 poems! The museum loved selecting the ones you can experience in the weblink above. 









Haibun 



Writing haibun is one of my greatest pleasures. Ferris Gilli suggested I try, and with her guidance I was able see how much joy there was in combining prose and haiku. Today Alan Summers inspires and encourages me to keep writing. 


This was one of my earlier haibun and still a favorite. It brings back those unbearably hot days and the boredom of the mushroom cloud in between the scattered TV programming, the awful reception, but the joy of finally having our friends sitting on the floor of our living room, all of us rapt in Flash. It shocks me today that we didn’t understand at all what we were seeing. Tours were conducted and considered entertainment. People would pay to witness the testing site. 




Nevada Testing
cho: 11.3, october 2015



In the fifties, we moved to South Dakota, and Dad bought a Magnavox TV. The signal blew hot and cold over the plains from Iowa so he instructed my mother to keep the set on. We woke each morning to a test pattern, watched through a snowy screen the denotation, the formless rising, and finally the large mushroom mushroom cloud. The process repeated itself all that hot summer.

as ordinary as Corn Flakes and Wonder Bread we were children

Only at night when Flash Gordon arrived did we huddle around the TV with our playmates. Ray guns and space wars. Finally, something happened. 





We had moved from Detroit, Michigan to Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. I was separated from my husband, so it was just me and the three kids. A turbulent and uncertain time both inside and out.
  
When the looting and rioting began here in 2020, our cities burning in the US, it triggered that time in ‘67. Music helped center me and brought some good times into our lives as we all gathered around the piano. 



Summer of 1967

cho: 11.3, october, 2015


In the time of Martin Luther King and Detroit in flames, my children and I gathered around an old upright each night to learn the songs of Pete Seeger. We sang with gusto We Shall Overcome, Guantanamera, What Side Are You On Boys. We mixed peaceful protest with Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Dites-moi, Getting to Know You, and others. The songs wafted out the open windows that hot summer and after weeks of hearing us, a few of the neighbors began to sing along.

car bombs broken glass
from the dry grass
a chorus of cicadas







My husband and I have many birdfeeders, and a large birdbath. Watching the comings and goings, nest building, and social gatherings of birds is a constant joy throughout the day. The incident I wrote about reminds me of our relearning with grown children. They’d come back home and to us they’re still our kids. We’d forget they were adults. Birds don’t tolerate interference either.



Relearning

narrow road, april, 2020

All afternoon robins come. Six, seven at a time to the birdbath. They push like kids at a pool. One, fully immersed, splashes the others. Two more wait on the railing for a turn. In all the years we’ve courted birds, nothing like this has ever happened. 

Like kids with noses pressed to the window, we’re afraid we will miss something.

Later in the day, sun low in the sky, the water is almost gone. The birds keep arriving but unknown to us, we’ve changed back into adults.  We’ve forgotten this is their world, we are visitors. 

We add more water. We wait…

still waiting


on the back porch
     watching shadows
only our rockers speak






Haunted

the haibun journal, issue 1.1, 2019

We have raccoons. When scratching in the walls becomes louder, we call an expert. He climbs up on the roof, finds a latrine site, raccoon droppings, an open chimney. The raccoon’s been here for some time. Do you have an ash pit? We do and all of us trudge downstairs. When our expert knocks hard on the ash pit door, a snarl threatens. Don’t open this door. That’s a defensive growl. Probably a female about to have babies. 

thunder
off the mountain…
moving away from lightning

At the expert’s suggestion, we hang pneumonia-soaked rags on the chimney. One night while we’re outside with neighbors, a guy says, Hey, there’s a raccoon. He has a white rag in his paw, and we all laugh. It looks down at us as we look up. So much for that, my husband says. The next suggestion—play a radio and blare hard rock from inside the fireplace. It drives us crazy, but soon we hear squealing, crying noises that tunnel up from the ash pit. We know just how much Mother was bothered by hard rock. We turn off the radio and call a truce for four weeks, giving her time with the babies. We can’t screen in the chimney with no escape for the raccoons. Or leave it open for more to come. Finally, we order a high-pitched sound gismo. Raccoons find the high frequency intolerable. Humans can’t hear it. But we find humans can hear the heart-piercing cries of an animal’s distress. The sound hurts in a different way. 

We need them to go; we don’t want to harm them. Back and forth we battle pros and cons. Around 2 am, we make a hard decision, go to bed and leave the sound on. The raccoons leave sometime during the night. Fifty years later, we still carry those cries.

sparking embers
from the campfire…
rising blood moon







Stepping Back 

In a dusty old warehouse on the Charles River, wood sings in all its manifestations. Melody vibrates within Norway spruce waiting to be cut into sound boards, into trunks, split and stock- piled. Aproned apprentices show by their touch the reverence they feel for the wood. 

The Master holds a piece of mahogany while he speaks. He points to piles of satinwood, basswood, rosewood, pine, and says it is important not to forget the wood has known only the music of dense forests and high mountain tops, of the creatures that lived within its shelter, and the elements that shaped it. 

It is our job, he says, to soothe the tree’s spirit while we apply damp clothes, adjust clamps, steam the wood to fit a jig. 

We wander over to watch men cut out a keyboards while others apply ebony to the natural keys and ivory to the sharps. A woman voices an almost finished instrument. We’re shown how the harpsichord is like a guitar, the plectrum plucking the brass strings; No wonder this instrument will take almost two years to build.

After we leave, we meander over to the river to sit and talk, having spent an afternoon in a world so different from ours, as if we’ve visited a foreign country. And yet, we are completely comfortable. The smell of wood is intoxicating and the way it is treated is a kindness we have only read about. Everyone who works there is passionate about maintaining the spirit of the wood. We are changing the woods’ purpose, they say, yet the wood will always have a voice and a timbre. 

It’s so personal, almost like making love, my husband says. 

first notes—
honeysuckle scented 
by the sun 



Thank you for asking me to participate. 
Jo Balistreri

Jo and her Dad ( he was 95 in this photo) 






Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Recent haiku poetry collections by Alan Summers

Three recent ebook collections by Alan Summers, with a few examples of monoku, monostich, and duostich verses:

Forbidden Syllables: 
https://bonesjournal.com/books/Alan_Summers-Forbidden-Syllables-bones-ed.pdf
Glint: https://proletaria730964817.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/glint.pdf
Comfort of Crows: 

https://www.velvetduskpublishing.com/uploads/3/7/5/9/37595991/the_comfort_of_crows_ebook.pdf



FORBIDDEN Syllables, released by Bones Library, 
is a collection of monoku & monostich.



the murmur of people through failed glass



late night television spills its whisky tumbler



Forbidden Syllables (Bones Library May 2020)






Glint:














































foreclosure the family home hides its bricks 


pollen count a person denied a home



Glint by Alan Summers
published by:
Proletaria   politics philosophy phenomena  (February 2020)








Comfort of Crows
Alan Summers & Hifsa Ashraf:




















































  A wonderful collaborative collection!





a dreaming forest busy as Hitchcock


Alan Summers




Perseids weaving dreams out of the blue 

Hifsa Ashraf




The Comfort of Crows 
Hifsa Ashraf and Alan Summers 
(Velvet Dusk Publishing, December 2019)






A deep bow to the three publishers!


Proletaria https://proletaria.org 
Velvet Dusk Publishing https://www.velvetduskpublishing.com








Alan Summers is a double Japan Times award winning writer, filmed by NHK Television (Japan) for “Europe meets Japan - Alan's Haiku Journey”; a Pushcart Prize nominated poet for haiku and haibun, and Best Small Fictions nominated for haibun. 

He is President of the United Haiku & Tanka Society, a previous General Secretary of the British Haiku Society (1998 until 2000) and Editor Emeritus for the multi-award-winning Red Moon Anthologies (USA) for best haikai literature from 2000 until 2005.

He has seven Haiku Collections: 

(YTBN Press 2012) 
The In-Between Season  
(With Words Pamphlet Series 2012)
Sundog Haiku Journal: an Australian Year 
(Sunfast Press 1997)
Moonlighting  
British Haiku Society Intimations Pamphlet Series (1996)
Comfort of Crows (Alan Summers & Hifsa Ashraf) 
Velvet Dusk Publishing (2019)
Glint 
(Proletria 2020)
Forbidden Syllables 
(Bones Library 2020)


Alan is co-founder, and full-time Lead Tutor, for haikai-based Call of the Page: www.callofthepage.org