April 13, 2019
April is National Poetry Month
“Write a Tanka: Part 2”
Walking by Inner Vision – A Personal Journal
The Tanka, Part 2
2019 – Writing Assignment #5
In April 2015, I wanted to work on a special project for National Poetry Month.
I began to write tanka in response to what I was learning.
It’s a surprising journey into the Tanka world – my research led me into some interesting revelations after I joined the Tanka Society of America (TSA).
Previously, I wrote Part 1 on this blog, April 10, 2015, Since that time, I’ve learned so much more about tanka.
Tanka is deeper and more complex than I thought!
A literary journal, “Ribbons,” is published by The Tanka Society of America. The magazine is another way of learning more about the Tanka form. The more I learn, the deeper I walk into this exquisite poetry form.
Tanka is similar to Japanese dance forms in some ways.
I relate tanka to the Butoh dance – human emotions, stories, minimalist space that feels like walking in a dream, finely orchestrated movement from the beginning of the poem to the end of it. And, then, the last line is so important in the poem, as the final movements and imagery is in the dance performances. This new idea came to me today as I worked on this essay.
Photo of Japanese Butoh Dance performance..
A TANKA POEM is like a Japanese DANCE
expressive, human emotion, movement, a dreamscape
“Ribbons” provided new information:
_ Tanka need not have a syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7.
The tanka in the TSA publication have 5 lines – yes!
However, the 5 lines vary greatly from the initial form I gave you in Tanka, Part I in yesterday’s post.
At this point, I suggest that you go back to that post to see the limits I outlined for the tanka form. Read it!
Photo used with permission of photographer, Rona Black. Copyright 2015.
Click here to See MORE photos by Rona Black
What is TANKA?
The TANKA poem originated in Japan over 1200 years ago
Traditionally, Tanka themes are:
Love Strong Human Emotions
A Tanka Poem usually reflects a single MOMENT
Tanka poems do not have titles or numbers
Use personification, metaphor, and other allusions
The lyrical intensity gives a sense of a personal, intimate world.
Capitalization and punctuation is not necessary. In fact, it can be a distraction to take the reader out of the moment in the poem. I saw this in the poems I read.
Tanka is a lyrical poem and it’s important for it to have a feeling of human emotions, awareness of being in a dream, or the author discussing personal relationships or desires.
Fragmentation is highly desirable.
What ELSE do I need to KNOW about TANKA:
Once you understand the structure of the Tanka Poem,
you do not need to count the syllables and words –
* It is not necessary to have the 5-7-5-7-7 format
* The tanka is much smoother if you do not force your words into a particular syllable count.
The overall observation, is that your Tanka will be a 5-line poem.
As you begin to consult literary magazines that focus on Tanka, or Haiku poetry forms, you soon see the poems published do not conform to the traditional generic description.
When you understand this new information,
just entered into the “tanka master class.”
I consulted with an editor of a Haiku Journal. His response:
“There are some western poets who do write in the traditional syllabic style, but they are few and far between, and not usually well represented in many of the more established journals
or showcased in the numerous anthologies that are produced each year.
Traditional Japanese poets still write in the syllabic style and use official kigo from a officially recognized sajiki, but there are plenty of Japanese poets who are not traditional
and write haiku which are reminiscent of what is being produced by poets in the west. I suggest you check out someone like Kaneko Tohta or Ban’ya Natsuishi to get an idea of just how adventurous some Japanese poets are.”
My tanka was first published by the Tanka Society of America.
Anthology – Spent Blossoms, 2015.
stony paths disappear
beneath my feet
I am the darkness
of ginkgo trees
and indigo skies
Writing by Inner Vision Journal – Assignment #5
Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved.
Do you WANT MORE? Come back tomorrow for MORE TANKA!
You can visit my original 2015 post if you are interested.
It was my Writing Assignment #12, in the series of THIRTY lessons I wrote in 2015.
Click here to read the 2015 version:
Tanka Poetry Part 1: Tanka Poetry Part 1 – Lesson 12