Poetry: Tanka Sampler

Poetry: Tanka Sampler

Happy National Poetry Month!

 

Haiku was my favorite form of Japanese poetry until I stumbled into tanka.

Tanka opens with three lines arranged like a haiku and follows them up with two lines.

The first three lines are external observation.

The closing two are internal reflection.

The middle line should act as a pivot that ties the two sets together.

 

The tanka below demonstrates the proper use of a pivot line.

10.07.16     (c) R. Long

come autumn’s first chill
chimneys smoke like old dragons
choking on new soot
the fireplace snaps and sings
of wild fearsome wingèd things

Notice how the first three lines and the final three lines are complete in themselves.

come autumn’s first chill
chimneys smoke like old dragons
choking on new soot

~

choking on new soot
the fireplace snaps and sings
of wild fearsome wingèd things

 

Tanka Guidelines

Rules and guidelines for English tanka are hazy at best

That’s because Japanese syllable patterns are impossible to translate into English.

My pieces incorporate the following tanka traditions:

  • 5 lines
  • 5-7-5-7-7 metre
  • 31 syllables total
  • lowercase letters
  •  no titles

However, to maintain a viable index, I attach a date to each piece: 10.01.16

If more than one piece is written on a day, I follow the date with a letter: 10.01.16 b

And more often than not, they break the traditions of pivot line and internal/external balance.

 

A Bullish Ink Tanka Sampler: 

 

we begin the day
with coffee, paper, and ink
same as every day
regimes rise and regimes fall
art allows us to transcend

 

parking lot poems
written outside coffee shops
too busy for me
words tumble onto the page
like sugar chasing caffeine

 

late night country drive
moonroof open, music cranked
flirting with tart stars
reeking of clover and oats
the galaxy roars your name