luni, 4 aprilie 2016

Ribbons, a journal of the Tanka Society of America. Winter issue(back cover)

when the sun sinks low
refugees' shadows conglobulate
over the wired border...
a tender lullaby
softens the wind

"Over a million refugees have entered Europe, or died trying, in the last few years but, as has been said before, it is difficult to understand and feel what a million individuals are experiencing. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the picture I saw of a refugee dead on the beach let me feel more directly what is happening in Europe than the knowledge that there are a million refugees.

The best tanka, with the compressed intensity and specific imagery that the form encourages, can paint a twenty-plus word picture that rivals what a visual artist can evoke. Lavana Kray's tanka let me see the refugees, both their struggle and uncertainty in the first three lines and, with the shift in the last two lines, their hope. Whether deliberate or not, by pointing to the “refugees shadows” and by hearing “a tender lullaby” but not showing us the refugees themselves, the tanka mirrors the the refugees situation: they are still at the “wired border” and have not reached a place where they can show themselves.

Lavana Kray is Romanian but wrote this powerful poem in English. I had to look up “conglobulate” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Though rarely used today, it means “to collect into a rounded or compact mass” and gave me a sense of what it must be like for the refugees to huddle together at sundown.

When I asked her about the poem, she wrote, “During the past few years, the news keeps showing images of the millions of refugees. I have watched children pushed under or thrown over some fence, and carried from one place to another, in the hope that things will be better beyond that fence and they will find a new home. My forefathers were refugees, too, so I am doubly sensitized to these people. Mixing this reality with my imagination, I poured all my thoughts and feelings into this tanka.

Anytime I need an English word, I look for it in a dictionary. Reading the definitions, I find other words, and I often fall in love with words for their musicality. Some words cling to me, and I have to use them. “Conglobulate” is one of those words. It rolled around in my mind until I found a place for it in this poem."

                           David Rice

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