Late October: Looking Back

As Mercury goes retrograde, it’s common to reminisce, to go back into our memories and relive moments. On this rather dreary late October day, I picked up Robert Purcell Moyer’s BITE OF AN APPLE published by Rosenberry Books. Each haiku, each calligraphic illustration is a marvel.

I then picked up the three books of my own that Rosenberry published some years ago, each on handmade paper, beautifully crafted. I’m so proud of them and Rosenberry for their dedication to out-of-this-world beautiful bookmaking techniques.

Here are links to my three books:

Ask! again

A Sprinkle of Glitter

Purple: a parable

Back from the Haiku North America Conference in Winston Salem, NC 2019

I enjoyed the slower pace of life in Winston Salem. My husband gave a great talk on copyright law that I know shed light on topics that every writer/editor needs to know. I, along with Alan Pizzarelli  and Mike Rehling (ed. Failed Haiku), read the senryu of others as well as our own poems.  Having started three journals, I read old haiku and senryu from The Persimmon Tree, Brussels Sprout, and the first issue of Prune Juice (present editor Brent Goodman). It’s always a joy to read senryu, to hear the chuckles, gasps and sighs.

My presentation on the Moon and Astrology blew a few minds when poets entertained the idea that the moon is a filter that colors our everyday life.

To support tanka, I read five-line poems and a few cherita on the eve of Tanka Sunday from my new book Dancing the Tarantella which was more than well received.  I was too zonked to stay for the entire meeting.

The first day at the Kaleidoscope reading, I shared haibun from my new book Scratches on the Moon. I believe, along with Dancing the Tarantella, are my best books to date. They are available on Amazon/Kindle.

It was great to see old friends and to meet new people. Robert Purcell Moyer, who headed up the event, was always there for everyone. He’s a wonderful human being  who happens to be a terrific dancer. The jazz ensemble and hearing my old friend Lenard Moore recite poems and perform was a real treat.

Aside from the conference, I was informed that after 45 years of writing haiku and other Japanese art forms, I was included as the 23rd honorary curator in the American Haiku Archives (2019). It’s a great honor to be with people such as Gary Snyder, Makoto Ueda, John Stevenson, Pat Donegan and others.  Michael Welch was supposed to make the announcement at the Haiku North America conference but  unfortunately it slipped his mind.

On the tanka front, I agreed to edit the Tanka Society of America Anthology. And, surprise, Jim Kacian of  The Haiku Foundation, asked me to edit a new tanka anthology. I am in the process of putting together a team of  editors I would really like to make tanka more accessible to haiku writers, to get away from the  strictly solipsistic approach.

For those of you in the DC area, I will be reading at Spiral Staircase, 49 West in Annapolis at 4 pm September 15. Please attend and feel free to share your poems at  open mic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsealing Our Secrets Won a Distinguished Touchstone Book Award (2019)

I was delighted when my colleague Roberta Beary emailed me to tell me the delightful news. The Touchstone Book Awards is sponsored by The Haiku Foundation under the direction of Jim Kacian, its founder. Unsealing Our Secrets is a collection of poems by women and a few men about sexual abuse. It was published on the coattails of the MeToo movement. I am proud of this accomplishment and for the people who were brave enough to share their experiences.

Unsealing Our Secrets is available on Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. Poet Laureate of Maryland, Grace Cavalieri writes:

 

Some 47 poets, women and men, tell long-held secrets of sexual abuse.
The subject would be too much to bear had it not been formalized into
Japanese forms of haiku, tanka, senryu, halibun, and what
curator/editor Rotella says is a rare form, the “Cherita.”

Even so, it’s difficult reading and exactly why I suppose it needed
writing. The wounds cannot heal until the toxic infection is open to
air. Mass consciousness will not be changed by such personal accounts,
however strongly they shake the reader and the world. Sexual abuse
mostly to children occurs unspeakably and is nothing less than a
public health problem. All this is important and necessary to say in
words, but can be painful beyond words to hear. Those who have been
recipients of hurtful scarring behaviors have been treated like
objects or receptacles; this is a sin against all human experience,
the human being, and humankind, and this book is about allowing the
subject to be exposed. We who are lucky enough to be the readers of
such accounts, rather than the writers, can only bow to courage.

A poem by Sonam Chhoki:

She

Lies curled in a knot

of blackness

carrying

her father’s child

pumice stone

in the morning shower

to scour

the feel of him, the smell of him

]

Exhibit: Milan, Italy, May 2019

Life sometimes surprises! My thrill  of the week is having my Lady with the Mask selected for The Beauty Myth Exhibit which will take place in Milan, Italy in the merry month of May. While I may not get to Italy this year (another one of life’s surprises where “stuff” happens), my art will! Grateful thanks to Giulia Biata  of Sardinia for organizing this event, and to the judges who selected the winners.

I’ve mostly been off Facebook during Lent, not because I’m religious, but because I need a break from the noise and the political drama. Also, both my parents died during Lent and there’s an underlying sadness that accompanies me throughout these early  days of spring. My husband is going through some health issues and I am right alongside him, going on our 49th year together.

Grateful thanks also to #ig_artistry of Instagram and NEM RED for featuring my digital art the last week. And last but not least, switching gears, thrilled that “Destined to be Broke” haibun was given Honourable Mention – Ken and Norah Jones Haibun Award  Honorable Mention (The British Haiku Society).

 

Destined to be Broke

 

She watches Oral Roberts, prays along with the television while she drinks a large bottle of Coke. She munches away while her husband hangs out at the pub. Her horror when she spots dead ants coating the bottom of the potato chip bag. But horror soon turns to optimism–could this be a sign? Is her ship finally headed toward harbor?

The North Wind fills her parka as she climbs the hill. She clutches the bag as though it were a winning lottery ticket. The mom-and-pop store where she bought the chips gives her the name of the manufacturer. Wishes her luck. Says they ought to pay  her something.

A package arrives in a big box. A thank you card for being one of their many loyal customers and, for her trouble, a free bag of potato ships.

  • no butterflies in the butterfly bush

And, lastly, thanks to Right Hand Pointing on line-journal for publishing this senryu in April :

Old age home

even here

the bullies

(Backstory: When my mother was in assisted living, she encountered fellow residents, some older than she,  who played one-up-manship games. My mom was having a hard enough time navigating the twists and turns of dementia without having to endure the meanness of people who didn’t move through their own childhood traumas Whoever said this journey on Planet Earth was a piece of cake?)

 

And before I leave, just a reminder … UNSEALING OUR SECRETS (MeToo Stories written in short-form poetry forms), curated and edited by myself,  is available on Amazon and Kindle. Women and a smattering of men share their secrets about sexual abuse. The writing is exceptional and I am so proud of this anthology. Here’s a review from Grace Cavalieri, Poet Laureate of Maryland (Amazon):

Some 47 poets, women and men, tell long-held secrets of sexual abuse.
The subject would be too much to bear had it not been formalized into
Japanese forms of haiku, tanka, senryu, halibun, and what
curator/editor Rotella says is a rare form, the “Cherita.”

Even so, it’s difficult reading and exactly why I suppose it needed
writing. The wounds cannot heal until the toxic infection is open to
air. Mass consciousness will not be changed by such personal accounts,
however strongly they shake the reader and the world. Sexual abuse
mostly to children occurs unspeakably and is nothing less than a
public health problem. All this is important and necessary to say in
words, but can be painful beyond words to hear. Those who have been
recipients of hurtful scarring behaviors have been treated like
objects or receptacles; this is a sin against all human experience,
the human being, and humankind, and this book is about allowing the
subject to be exposed. We who are lucky enough to be the readers of
such accounts, rather than the writers, can only bow to courage.

A poem by Sonam Chhoki:

She

Lies curled in a knot

of blackness

carrying

her father’s child

 

pumice stone

in the morning shower

to scour

the feel of him,

the smell of him

 

 

Mira Mobile Prize: Black and White Photographs Exhibit, Porto, Portugal 2019

I am thrilled that one of my street photographs was chosen in the top 50 entries. See the link below. The first one in the block is mine. It was taken in Ragusa, Sicily in June 2019 during the evening hours when people promenade up and down the street taking in the air or city sights. In this case, I was captivated by these gentlemen who seemed to be carrying on an animated conversation. The elder man with Einstein’s hair looked like a professor and the others his colleagues. Whatever they were discussing seemed really important!

I posted the photo on Facebook. Within minutes a virtual friend from Ragusa informed me that the gentleman central to the photo was indeed a judge whom he knew.  It’s a small world!

http://miramobileprize.com/en/