First published in the Tanka Society of America Newsletter 1:2, Winter 2000, page 1 (excerpted from “President’s Message: International Connections”). See also my Welcoming Speech at the Third International Tanka Convention.
Near the end of September this year , I boarded a plane in San Francisco, bound for the Third International Tanka Convention at the Renaissance Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I was privileged to represent the Tanka Society of America. At this meeting, more than a hundred members of the Japan Tanka Poets’ Club had travelled from Japan, led by President Takeo Fujioka, Tanka Journal Editor Hatsue Kawamura, Mitsue Kurahashi, and Hiroshi Shionozaki. They were joined by about seventy other Japanese-language tanka poets visiting from Hawaii, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. Also attending were English-language tanka poets Winona Baker and Melissa Dixon from Canada, Margaret Chula and American Tanka Editor Laura Maffei from the United States, and Amelia Fielden from Australia. A few of us met for lunch just before the afternoon event on Wednesday, September 27, where we were joined by Canadian tanka poet Gerald St. Maur, who happened to be visiting Vancouver but was not able to stay for the convention. I was particularly delighted to meet all the poets in attendance, most of whom I had not met in person before. The event itself was an afternoon of speeches [nearly all in Japanese], the ceremonious awarding of prizes for the Japan Tanka Poets’ Club Third International Tanka Contest, and much socializing and exchanging of books and gifts, topped off by a sumptuous banquet in the evening—complete with the singing of “O Canada” and the recitation of numerous poems. The entire group of two hundred people also posed for a formal photograph that served as a great memento for the occasion—and amazingly made available before the banquet ended!