Here's an extended review of Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls by Kathy Kituai and Fergus Stewart that appeared in the international journal Skylark.
they lingerin the corner of the kilntea bowlsglazed in deeper hues,smoke the colour of sorrow
Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the tea-cup. It is the only Asiatic ceremonial which commands universal esteem.
– Akakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea (1906)
Tanka embodies the gentle perception of wordsChanoya embodies the shape of the form.At their highest expressionthey take us into the silence beyond either.
can potterand poet meet in eachturn of phrase?test cones twist, meltand break in the kiln
every nightshe raises to her mouthhis tea bowlwhose idea was itto glaze it with the moon?
she finds himoutside his studioon the lawnpricking holes in colandersand thoughts she had on potters
… Shape clay into vessel,It is nothing (the emptiness) that is of use as a vessel.Open the door and frame the window,It is nothing (the hollowness) that is of use as a room …
joyousafter it rainstadpolesswimming in tea bowlsthrown away as seconds
bubblesbefore they burstraindropsbefore they fallpots before they are thrown
no pinch potsor coiled platterswill she sharescribbled scraps of ideasor poems trimmed and glazed
they limber up …he with clay centredon the wheelshe with pen on papersteadying each word
how to wedgethe next what ifclasp handsaround lumps of clayfeel its roundness
no handleor spout for this vesseljust five linespouring from the nibto sip or savour
for all their talkon poetry and potsthe wheel spins …look at what might be saidsimply without words
gossipinghands on hipsteapotsfacing each otheron a wooden shelf
pots firedready in the kilnshoutinglook at me! look at me!were her children any different?
in a rowready to be bisquepotsset outside at sunsetglazed pink, red and gold
do sphericalcreatures arisefrom the deepwith only finger and thumb tipsguiding them out of mind?
kanna*and body-mind centredhe carvesthe foot of each bowlwaiting to be discovered
*metal finishing tool
flashingin the darknesspotter …wood … firebox …pen on the page
head bowed … hands foldedshe is thankful for mushroomsin a bowl of soupspiced with onions garlic thymeand the outline of her facecareful …hold it with both hands …catch every dropof Lochinver sunlightspilling into the cupfunctionalplain simple teapotshe brews teawhenever she canjust to say amen
to whichwould Buddha bow …this bowlfitting the palm of her handor those the potter discarded?
hand-coiledlop-sided tea bowlset on a tray …the taste of teabefore it is poured
perfectimperfection …potsdrying too rapidlycrack without warning
sheer poetryleaping from the kilnwill her poemmake marksthat keep on burning