Kath Abela Wilson has been writing poetry since the age of five. She is the creator and leader of the band of “Poets on Site,” a performance group of poets collaborating with dancers, musicians, artists and scientists on the sites of their inspirations. She has produced and edited over 30 books which are the basis for performances at museums, galleries and gardens in Southern California. The poetry audio tour “Poets on Site,” created for the permanent collection of the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, has won a MUSE award from the American Association of Museums. Her husband, Professor Rick Wilson, accompanies her and the other “Poets on Site” artists at performances using his vast collection of historical and world flutes. They also host salons for artists, poets and musicians in their home, often called “The Living Room Gallery.” She travels the world to mathematics conferences with her husband, a Cal Tech professor of mathematics, and listens poetically to science lectures, sketching portraits of each speaker. They have recently traveled to Iran, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey, Slovakia, Croatia and Europe. Kath Abela is also an artist, jeweler, singer, percussionist, dancer, and most recently learned to play tamboura on their trip to India. She is currently writing a "fictional" autobiography: “Kath Abela a long story in Asian Short Form.” In 2010, Kath Abela created a Facebook group, “Tanka Poets on Site,” with over 400 members. Her tanka, tanka prose, and tanka sequences have been published in Atlas Poetica, Bright Stars, Eucalypt, Gusts, Haiku News, Haibun Today, kernelsonline, Kokako, Moonbathing, Notes from the Gean, red lights, Ribbons, Skylark and in many anthologies. Kath Abela continues to publish her longer free verse poetry and haiku in many print and online journals. She is secretary of the Tanka Society of America and in March 2014 created a Spring Festival of Tanka Events, welcoming renowned tanka poet from Japan, Mariko Kitakubo, at the Altadena Library, Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, and her own home salon.  

"When I read or write tanka there is a magnetic feeling... I am drawn in as if entering a silence that has spilled over into words to create a distinct shape with its own logic and sense of direction. I have walked through a city and, finally, can hear the ocean." Kath Abela Wilson


in the dark before sleep
her memory
becomes a map
she steps into the world
she has created
hill of wild carrot
a white wall
my childhood perch
where I still hold sway
to see forever
the silence
of her cattail heart
she built
a muskrat's den
it was my poem
that you loved
a salmons leap
you did not know
I was attached to it

For Mel Weisburd

he inspires me
to live
up to
my name

(for Mel Weisburd)

entrance bench
red blooms
through the slats
I sit let roses grow
between my bones

published "Bright Stars" anthology
(inspired by a sculpture by Gloria Weisburd


inside my shadow
I feel the pull downward
lie down with long stems
of lilies naked to the pink
my legs are green

published in "Ribbons"
journal of the Tanka Society of America

my wish to be
a swarm
of kathabelas
and then what
would you do


awake for a moment
3 am bouquet
lily of the Incas
I remember I am a bee 
half a world away

not me something else
4 am bouquet
of pink roses
a thousand blooms remember 
I'm still asleep



leftover sky
late afternoon
a good cloud to cloud
all we have to say
about tomorrow
when I speak to you
I’m on the inside
of this busy world
wings tree flower close
around us sated with silence

formerly my dream
now a bouquet
of dandelions
keeping me awake 
at 5 am

how can anyone sleep
with all those roses blooming
in New Zealand
a pink bouquet 
delivered at 6 am

thinking I'll lie abed
till 7 I notice
the orchids
in my dark room plotting
to wake me up

some of the above tanka have or will appear in "Bright Stars" an Organic Tanka Anthology, 2014

*inside/the silence was Atlas Poetrica special feature, “Geography & the Creative Imagination”



2014 Kath Abela Wilson


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