Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tanka

Now, we’re talking! If you don’t know already, I love surfing the Hallyu wave. But that'd never happened if I hadn’t been indoctrinated to the Asian culture and media as a young child.
I was first bit by the bug when I watched my first anime one Saturday afternoon. To those who don’t know, anime is a shortened term for Japanese animation.

So can you imagine my excitement that I got the letter “T”!? Well, you’re about to find out why.


Tanka is a Japanese poetic form. It originated in the 7th century thus making it one of the oldest Japanese forms. The tanka is 31 syllables long, consists of five lines and doesn’t rhyme. And unlike the haiku, it is the more expressive of the two with its use of metaphors and personification. For this reason the tanka resembles a sonnet, a love poem.  Also, the tanka were often written by lovers to give their thanks for a memorable night. ;-D

The beginning three lines, upper lines, of the tanka starts off like a haiku. An image and or setting  is introduced. And immediately followed by a shift or expansion of the subject in the last two, lower lines.

The tanka, like the limerick, has a syllable count for each line: 5/7/5/7/7. Meaning that lines one and three are five syllables long. While lines two, four and five are seven syllables long.
Here’s an example of a tanka poem by poet Tada Chimako:

Person of the Playful Star: Tanka [I listen to songs]

I listen to songs
of someone handsome
at the apex of night
the Milky Way overflows
the stars boil over and fall
© 2010

I’m more into writing the senryu, another Japanese poetic form. I even pair them up with images and post them to Instagram and Twitter but here’s my attempt at a tanka poem:

April 21

Their petals fell
like tears for a fallen icon
before vanishing.
Another star lost its light
to shine in the skies above.
© Lidy Wilks, April 22, 2016

Want to attempt your own tanka poem and share it in the comments? Have a favorite tanka poem you'd like to share? Are you familiar with the haiku and other Japanese poetic forms like the senryu or waka?


Darla M Sands said...

Fabulous post! I'm a fan of Japanese Haiku but did now know any forms beyond it. ~blush~ My brain isn't up to creative writing yet this morning, but thank you for sharing.
Awakening Dreams and Conquering Nightmares with a Pen
It looks like I will have intermittent Internet access soon, so forgive me if I don’t stop by as often. I’ll try to maximize whatever time is allowed. Happy blogging!

Kathleen Valentine said...

I've tried Haiku but have no gift for poetry. Tanka is new to me.

Meet My Imaginary Friends

C R Ward said...

I've studied many forms of poetry and the Japanese ones are my favourite. It drives me crazy when people think they've written a Haiku when it's actually a Senryu. But I've written a couple of Tanka, as well as Waka, Rengu, Choka, and Sedoka. I love the Tanka you wrote!
Carol at My Writing Journal

Lidy Wilks said...

@Darla thanks. Love to read your attempt at the tanka, whenever you have the chance.
@kathleen you've tried haiku? Like to read some.
@crward thank you :-D. I've yet to write a waka, rengu, choka or sedoka. But the future isn't written yet, as they say.

Jennifer Amerkhanov said...

I love attempting Tanka and other poetry that has a rigid structure and rules. It forces you to be more, not less, creative to say what you want to say within those confines. Here are some of mine: http://jenseriously.com/category/waxing/

Donna McDine said...

Absolutely lovely! Thank you for sharing the origins. Fascinating!

Ginni Deville said...

Interesting post! - I have tried writing Haiku but maybe i should venture out a little after reading this and attempt something new :P

Lidy Wilks said...

@Jennifer yes it does forces you to get creative. You can be amazed with how much you can do.
@Donna thank you. 😊 glad you enjoyed it.

Liz A. said...

We tried those in elementary school. First we did Haiku, and then we were taught Tanka. I didn't remember what it was called, though.

Chrys Fey said...

Writing Haiku is so much fun. I've never done Tanka before but now you've inspired me. :)

Lidy Wilks said...

@ginni Thank you. Do give it a try. Technically you're already half way there.
@Liz that's good that they had you do poetry in elementary school.It can be a fun exercise. As well as help young kids to empathize with others.
@chrys thanks. Can't wait to see what you come up with.