Perigee Moon

Margaret Chula

Cover and Design by Susan Gardner

92 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, perfect bound — ($21.95) discounted 10% to $20.00

Perigee Moon is a collection of tanka, the elegant poetic form used by Japanese court poets over 1300 years ago to express desire, longing, and unrequited love. These short five-line poems create space in the reader’s mind and heart to enter the poem through their own experiences. Arranged in five sections with themes of love, family, childhood, nature, and travel, the poems in Perigee Moon weave themselves through time into a cohesive whole. From Theseus to a Zen monastery to a Goth girl to courting juncos, a panoply of emotions is revealed through images and the musicality of Chula’s language. Her tanka (“short songs”) sing out and celebrate what it is to be alive in the 21st century. from the Introduction by Michael Dylan Welch

unlike Pygmalion’s

marble Galatea

my lover’s lips

are pliant and warm

and taste of strawberries


how can I write

a decent tanka

about loneliness

 with you beside me

 nibbling my neck


red rover, red rover

 she was always the last one

 to be called over—

 my faint-hearted mother

 who outlived all her friends

in my dream

Mother is still alive

I fall back to sleep

to finish our stroll

in the summer garden            

Second Prize, The San Francisco International Competition for Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka, 2019 


 sixty years gone by

and even now that outrage—

 first day of school

 and being scolded for playing

 with trucks on the boys’ side


cradled in my palm

my baby sister’s ashes

and shards of bones—

remembering how I envied

her high cheekbones             

First Prize, British Haiku Society International  Tanka Contest, 2019                                                                        

“In Perigee Moon, Margaret Chula writes with pinpoints of poignancy, bringing us closer to nature, to the lover, to the mother, and to life itself. Above all, we are drawn closer to our innermost selves, just as the perigee moon is drawn to the earth. Almost imperceptibly, Chula merges the elegance of the Japanese tradition with the finger-snap of the modern world. Her graceful voice heralds the way for non-Japanese.” —Patricia Donegan

“Imbued with a Japanese sensibility and rendered in an American idiom, these masterful five-line poems are a sheer pleasure to read. Ranging in subject and tone from the erotic to the dolorous—and never without a touch of humor—each one makes an unexpected turn or pivot, a little poof of surprise, in the manner of the traditional tanka. Margaret Chula is an unquestionable master of the form.” —Clemens Starck

“Margaret Chula migrates the ancient tanka form into English with all its virtuosity intact. Her poems are by turns tender, startling, ironical, acerbic, gritty, hilarious, self-deprecating, and achingly true. I will always treasure these poems for their loving sadness about the human predicament, and for images that can stun the reader into enlightenment: ‘one daffodil / fallen face down / into a water bowl / Mother’s slender neck / as she drank from the stream.'” —Patrick Donnelly