Thursday, November 3, 2011

Neal Henry Lawrence Day

Good Morning:

Another year has gone by and it is again the anniversary of Neal Henry Lawrence: born January 22, 1908, died November 3, 2004.  Lawrence lead a remarkable life.  During his 96 years he was a business man, fought in W.W. II, became a monk, and a Tanka poet.  As far as I know he was the first American born Tanka poet to produce a substantial body of work.  Four of his Tanka collections were published during his life.  'Shining Moments' is still in print, while his others are available via Amazon now and then at not too high prices.

Lawrence set a precedent for a syllabic approach to Tanka.  All his Tanka are in the 5-7-5-7-7 form, the form that this type of poem has followed for over 1400 years.  His work is remarkably varied, covering topics from the traditional seasonal poems, to religion, to politics.  Here is one of his Tanka that I suspect conveys something of his personal life as a monk:

The abbey bell rings
Tolling life's passing moments
Of joy and sorrow,
Of time for meditation
And to say the rosary.

I think the best way to celebrate this day would be to compose a syllabic Tanka.  And perhaps to take up, once again, one of Lawrence's books.  I always find them worth rereading.

Best wishes,