Sunshine Tomorrow – Tanka

We are almost through 1/2 of the year – and I desired when I began this journey of poetry and photography, to study and learn the various forms of japanese poetry.  I have been in a holding pattern for the last month or so.  I feel some of the haiga had true form, but I know many were more pseudo haiku.  I have been less committed in recent weeks to work on the form, and have been more committed to completing the daily commitment.  Today, though, I had more time to study the various forms and to attempt a different form, the tanka.

According to the Tanka Society of America website, from the original document drafted by the Haiku Society of America definitions committee led by William J. Higginson, and published in the HAS Newsletter, 1994, a tanka is:  “The typical lyric poem of Japanese literature, composed of five unrhymed metrical  units of 5,7,5,7,7 ‘sound symbols’.   Tanka in English have generally been in five lines with  a total of thirty-one or fewer syllables, often observing a short, long, short, long,  long pattern.  Tanka usually need no titles, though in Japanese a ‘topic’ (dai) is often  indicated where a title would normally stand in Western poetry.  In Japan, the tanka is well  over twelve hundred years old (haiku is about three hundred years old), and has gone through  many periods of change in style and content.  But it has always been a poem of feelings, often  involving metaphor and other figurative language (not generally used in haiku).  While tanka praising nature have been written, and seem to resemble “long haiku,” most tanka deal with  human relationships or the author’s situation. In the words of Sanford Goldstein, “behind the  scene is the autobiographical moment of the poet’ (‘Tanka Off the Back Burner,’  Frogpond, XV:2 Fall-Winter 1992).  The best tanka harmonizes the writer’s emotional life with  the elements of the outer world used to portray it.”

For those of you who write poetry, and especially japanese poetry, I would love feedback so that I may learn and grow in this endeavor.  Thanks in advance.  I hope to write in this form for the next few days.

4 thoughts on “Sunshine Tomorrow – Tanka

    • Thank you, Ellen, I value your input. I keep reading other’s to pick up transitions, flow, etc. Always glad to hear from you. Hope you are moving with your ideas and directions.

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