Margaret Van Every is a prolific writer whose poetry and short stories appear in her own collections, as well as several anthologies. Poetry has been her lifelong pursuit (she was poetry editor of the literary journal at the University of Wisconsin). After moving to Ajijic, Mexico, in 2010, she joined the Ajijic Writers Group and was a founding member of the Not Yet Dead Poets Society.
Margaret has produced four books: A Pillow Stuffed with Diamonds (2010), republished in a bilingual edition in 2011, Saying Her Name (2013), and Holding Hands with a Stranger (2014).
Her work is influenced by Lakeside poet James Tipton, who introduced her to the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka. Tanka consists of unrhymed, unmetered verses of five lines, and is one of the oldest Japanese forms, originating in the seventh century in the Imperial Court, where nobles sometimes competed in tanka contests.
Tanka’s economy of language and suitability for emotional expression made it ideal for intimate communication. After an evening spent together, lovers would often write a tanka as a gift of gratitude to give to each other the next morning.
A Pillow Stuffed with Diamonds/Una Almohada Rellena con Diamantes is a collection of 116 tanka in English and Spanish showing the quirks of Mexican life. The poems, ironic but sensitive, offer a portrait of life of the inhabitants around Lake Chapala through the eyes of expats.
The following tanka from the book is considered one of the top 500 tanka from among 19,000 published during the year 2010:
The Spanish translations are not literal but attempt to capture the essence of the English original in local idiom of the area. She owes the authenticity of the translations to two native speakers, Andrés Velásquez and Rubén Varela. Although Van Every clearly loves her adopted country, her poems are never sentimental. Her voice is wry but not judgmental.
Her tanka takes its place with major tanka poets like Sanford Goldstein and Michael McClintock. They are filled with energy, wit, and the joy of being alive, originating from her life experiences in Mexico. Her poems appear in the major tanka magazines like Atlas Poetica, The Tanka Journal, and Magnapoets, and they are included in Take Five, which features the very best tanka in English in the world for 2010.
One of my favorites illustrates her sardonic sense of humor:
Learn more about Margaret, and find links to her work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
(Post by Riberas Author Mel Goldberg)