Margaret Chula




Always Filling, Always Full by Margaret Chula

This is Chula’s first collection of tanka after publishing four books of haiku, including Grinding My Ink, which received the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Award. Always Filling, Always Full begins with a preface by Jane Hirshfield followed by an introduction by William J. Higginson and a brief definition of tanka by the author.

Containing over one hundred tanka, Always Filling, Always Full is divided into six thematic sections: Plums Ripen (love); Chattering Squirrels (friends and family); A Dusting of Moths (nature); Into Darkness (grief and loss); Bare Limbs (humor); and Holes in the Fusuma (Japanesque). Tanka sequences on such diverse topics as the death camps of Birkenau and meeting her father at the horse races add a narrative aspect to each of the sections. Portland artist Jef Gunn has created imagistic ink drawings to accompany Chula’s tanka. These and the generous white space surrounding the poems invite the reader into this beautifully designed collection.


Poems from Always Filling, Always Full

 having touched your mind
 I long for your body
 this autumn evening
 starlings are crying
 in the bricked-up chimney

 how unfair
 that dormant flower bulbs
 come back to life
 every spring — first spring
 without you

 in the darkness
 I dance with my hands
 a firefly circle the porch
 flies towards me
 with its green light

 “These tanka seem to me among the best I have read. They blend present concern and acute perception with the grace and aesthetics of the tradition and the finely honed language of modern poetics. These deeply human poems stand equally tall among their Japanese forebears and their American contemporaries. In them, tanka is an American genre of significant range and depth.”   William J. Higginson

 “Always Filling, Always Full portrays the poet’s emotional expressions of joy, love, and sadness in an outburst of nature. It shows the tanka form in significant ways, but also displays language and imagery as the poet's own. Here the poet speaks to her beliefs, which are human, concise, and timeless.”   Makoto Ueda

 “Working within the sinuous tradition of the Japanese tanka form, Margaret Chula has found a voice that bows both in the direction of earlier works and toward the unknown—the next poem, whose perception is always ungraspable until the words fall into place. In this world where we have come more and more to see that each thing touches every other, this book is welcome proof of the universality and particularity of the human heart.”   Jane Hirshfield

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old: seek the things they sought,” said Basho, and the same could be said by Chula. This collection blends Japanese tradition with an American sensibility to produce poems concise, moving, and filled with vivid perception of the range of human feeling. Margaret Chula spent twelve years living and studying in Kyoto, Japan and now makes her home in Portland, Oregon.”    Dennis Maloney, Editor White Pine Press

Ordering Information:

6” X 9”
96 pages with 7 B&W Illustrations by Jef Gunn
$17 postpaid (USA)
$19 postpaid (Canada and overseas)

Katsura Press
P.O. Box 10584
Portland, OR 97296

Telephone Number: 503-292-9250

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