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CONTEST~I've Been Reading A Bit On Tanka Form - Rick Parise's Blog

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A Pondering Poet~

Echoing Resolve

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Easy river run
down vast beauty light
in morning dawn
crest before my eyes

For autumn rain has gone
sparking light of silver grace
now lay peaceful strokes
on hillside of new day

Each thought still remain
in splashed hues of poetic verse
a quenching bath of love
upon soft sky of birth

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CONTEST~I've Been Reading A Bit On Tanka Form


Blog Posted:5/19/2012 1:54:00 PM


Tanka food For thought......



From tanka's long history - over 1300 years recorded in Japan- the most famous use of the poetry form of tanka was as secret messages between lovers. Arriving home in the morning, after having dallied with a lover all night, it became the custom of well-mannered persons to write an immediate thank-you note for the pleasures of the hospitality.


The little poem expressing one's feelings were sent in special paper containers, written on a fan, or knotted on a branch or stem of a single blossom. These were delivered to the lover by personal messenger who then was given something to drink along with his chance to flirt with the household staff. During this interval a responding tanka was to be written in reply to the first note which the messanger would return to his master.

Usually, each line consists of one image or idea; unlike English poetry, one does not seek to "wrap" lines in tanka, though in the best tanka the five lines often flow seamlessly into one thought.

        For what it’s worth, I’ve checked the syllable count of our previous first-place contest winners, and here they are: Edward J. Rielly (2000): 29; David Rice (2001): 29; Carol Purington (2002): 29. I think it’s mere coincidence that each one is 29 syllables. In English, where we can generally say the same things as Japanese but in fewer syllables, I would suggest that we say in our tanka what needs to be said in a clear, rhythmic, and lyrical manner, letting the number and pattern of the syllable count fall where it may.


Syllables range from 9- 31

Please leave insight and knoweledge re: TANKA

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  1. Date: 5/23/2012 7:00:00 AM
    hey Rick like you I have been researching, but for the sonnet it is amazing how many different kinds thers are, so far I love the monosyllabic sonnet, very clever..David

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  1. Date: 5/20/2012 12:23:00 PM
    Thank you for teaching us the history of the tanka, Michael. It is one of my favorite forms. Love the theme, Rick. Best wishes to all whoenter. Love, Carolyn

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  1. Date: 5/20/2012 8:38:00 AM
    It really is a cool little form and I am not sure if we here really know what we are doing when we write them, but I sure enjoy reading them.

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  1. Date: 5/20/2012 8:10:00 AM
    i find this form quite challenging, rick.. if i'm right, tanka means short song... thanks for sharing! :) huggs!

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  1. Date: 5/20/2012 1:26:00 AM
    Tanka is perhaps more difficult than haiku but a satisfying 5 liner form, whatever the count, Rick though,it ain't a poem if it's not poetrical.

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  1. Date: 5/19/2012 11:25:00 PM
    Now to start Tanka over............I too have a greater depth of understanding////THANk YOU LADIES!!!!x5

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  1. Date: 5/19/2012 6:07:00 PM
    so much to learn! Light & Love

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  1. Date: 5/19/2012 3:55:00 PM
    I have read some of this before about the lovers and it being about their time together..I thought that was interesting custom that they had and a nice one I must say..Sara

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  1. Date: 5/19/2012 3:54:00 PM
    An updated form of tanka, the gogyohka (1957) is five lines, with breaks occurring where the breath would be drawn, without a specified syllable count. I have noticed that outside of Japan, writers do many forms of short poems and call them by a Japanese name.

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  1. Date: 5/19/2012 3:51:00 PM
    This is very interesting, Rick. I had thought that the messages passe from lover to lover were in the form of katuaka, with the two together making a mondo. A katuaka, in Japanese, is 5-7-5 or 5-7-7. The modern form is short-long-long.

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