Neal Henry Lawrence Day 2012
Today is November 3rd, Neal Henry Lawrence Day. Lawrence (January 22, 1908 to November 3, 2004), in the last phase of his long and varied life, lived in Japan as a member, a Priest, in the Order of Saint Benedict. He lived in Tokyo during this period and that is where Father Lawrence learned about Tanka.
Father Lawrence was the first to produce a significant body of English language Tanka following the traditional syllabic construction of five lines in 5-7-5-7-7. His work is, therefore, groundbreaking. It is also well crafted. English language Tanka poets can learn much from reading his works.
I think of Neal Henry Lawrence as the Patron Saint of English Language Tanka. Here is one from his second book, ‘Rushing Amid Tears’:
Yellow as old lace
On my grandmother’s treasured
Wedding dress of silk.
The aging gardenia
Floated in the dark blue bowl.
Today would be a good day to compose a formal Tanka, using the Tanka recipe of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables; a recipe which has been used for over 1400 years.
For those interested in reading a little about Brother Lawrence, Saint John’s Abby has a page about him: