Sunday, November 27, 2016

Carpe Diem Tanka Splendor #28 Teika's Tenth Tanka Writing Technique "Demon-quelling" (prompt: autumn departs)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This is the last Tanka Writing Technique by Teika, it's very specific for that time as I look at the "name" for this Tanka Writing Technique "demon-quelling". It will not be an easy task to explain this Tanka Writing Technique, but I will give it a try together with Jane Reichhold.

Demon-quelling - onihishigitei (or kiratsu no tei), characterized by strong or even vulgar diction and terms

Because its methods are at odds with the classical poetical values of beauty, elegance, and grace, Teika said the style to be "more difficult" and should be attempted only when the student has become proficient in the other methods. One of Teika's examples is taken from the Man'yoshū, #4:503 which is a more violent version than a similar poem in the Shinkokinshū, #10:911:

kamikaze ya / Ise no hamaogi / orishikite / tabine ya suran / araki hamabe ni

divine winds
reeds on the Ise beach
are broken
to make a traveler's bed
on this rough shore

The operative words to demonstrate the demon-quelling style are "divine winds" the breaking off of reeds, and the rough seacoast. Teika taught that even though the poet put these elements into a poem, they should be treated with sensibility and gentleness however, it seems this has been most easy to ignore.

Let me try to explain this idea. As you maybe know in ancient Japan, as in many other ancient cultures, there were stories about demons, devils and ghosts, but in Japan and for example China they made these "oni" look like monstrous creatures.
Oni are a kind of yōkai from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres, or trolls. They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature and theater.

Oni (demons) woodblock print

Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic ogre-like creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes. Their skin may be any number of colors, but red and blue are particularly common.

They are often depicted wearing tiger-skin loincloths and carrying iron clubs called kanabō. This image leads to the expression "oni with an iron club", that is, to be invincible or undefeatable. It can also be used in the sense of "strong beyond strong", or having one's natural quality enhanced or supplemented by the use of some tool. In addition to this, it can mean to go overboard, or be unnecessarily strong or powerful.

It's the looks of these "oni" which Teika uses to describe this "demon-quelling" Tanka Writing Technique.

So the goal is to create a tanka characterized by strong or even vulgar diction and terms. Not easy I would say, because my goal for tanka (and haiku) is elegance and beauty and not anti-beauty or anti-elegance. But I have given it a try:

broken wings a butterfly crushed under my feet fragile beauty gone leaving me with a broken heart

© Chèvrefeuille

Huh ... the idea of this "anti-beauty and anti-elegance" is really not my "cup of tea", but I think this tanka fits the Tenth Tanka Writing Technique. As you can read the prompt for today is "autumn departs", so I have tried to create a tanka with that prompt too:

broken branches
last leaves ripped apart
autumn departs
the first snow starts to fall
cuddling in front of the hearth

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 2nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, autumn's voice, later on. For now ... have fun!

PS. I had a CD Special Japanese Poetry In The Lowlands planned, but during lack of time I have decided to drop that episode, maybe I will publish it next month.

1 comment:

  1. These offerings are all so good... sign of an excellent guide. :)