Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sound of Chopsticks Tanka

closed in
on herself once again...
dinnertime filled
with the sound of chopsticks
and April snowflakes

Joint First Prize (Certificate of Merit Conferred by Contest Judge, Maxianne Berger), 8th International Tanka Festival, 2016

(Judge`s Comment:  A simple rendering of solitude, silence, and tranquility. We are not told why this persona seeks to separate herself from others, we only know that she has done this before. We are free to attribute reasons based on our own experiences. Quiet is apparent in two details. The sound of chopsticks would usually goes unnoticed, something our brains ignore because unimportant. Line 4 brings the sound to our mind's ear, and our imagination perforce sets it in an otherwise silent background. As to falling snow, its acoustic presence is one of muffling other sounds. Beyond sound, however, when snowflakes appear in the poem they place the persona at a window, on the inside, looking out-­with all the emotional interpretations that might imply. "April" says springtime, but "snowflakes," winter. We are invited to fill in our own take on the dual nature of this symbolism. Meanwhile, there are no sounds of sadness--no tears, no sighs. As such, there is a certain calm conveyed by the whole)