Exploring English Syllabic Verse
Tanka gone Catholic! Fantastic!
Dear Dan:An early practitioner of English language Tanka was Brother Neal Henry Lawrence, O.S.B. In his long life, he died in his late 90's, he had a very interesting career which included business, serving in W.W. II, and then becoming a Benedictine Monk. Due to his knowledge of Japan through his military service, his order sent him there to serve the small Benedictine community taking root in Japan. He lived there a long time and became enamored of Tanka. He published four books of English language Tanka, one of which is still in print, "Shining Moments". Reading his Tanka one can see a development. His earliest Tanka often have Japanisms, or mimic Japanese syntax. Later he becomes more assured and the English is more natural. One of the things that impresses me about Lawrence is the great range of topics. Traditional seasonal Tanka are found, but he doesn't hesitate to write political Tanka as well, which is very rare in Japanese poetic history. Father Lawrence wrote syllabically and in my opinion his body of work deserves more study and appreciation. I'm going to write more about him sometime this year.Best,Jim
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