Tanka Poetry

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a poetry challenge via instagram! Such fun is offered regularly by _@mythospoetssociety. This one in particular involved writing something about “weaving a dream’ – in Tanka poetry form. Prize for entrants was a feature/highlight by _@mythospoetssociety.

Okay, I do not usually enter contests. I’ve tried it and it reminds me of the Academy awards. Unless the stuff causes crossed eyes and fits of yawning, you are likely not going to win. Ha!

So, I can’t say I “won” per se, but I did receive a feature and highlight (along with others). But hey, who does not love a little validation from time to time? I love an occasional kind word, thank you!💎

Anyway, for those who have not heard of Tanka poetry, I thought I would share some info.

The tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line. A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as “short song,” and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form.(1)

History of the Tanka Form

One of the oldest Japanese forms, tanka originated in the seventh century, and quickly became the preferred verse form not only in the Japanese Imperial Court, where nobles competed in tanka contests, but for women and men engaged in courtship. Tanka’s economy and suitability for emotional expression made it ideal for intimate communication; lovers would often, after an evening spent together (often clandestinely), dash off a tanka to give to the other the next morning as a gift of gratitude.(2)

In many ways, the tanka resembles the sonnet, certainly in terms of treatment of subject. Like the sonnet, the tanka employs a turn, known as a pivotal image, which marks the transition from the examination of an image to the examination of the personal response. This turn is located within the third line, connecting the kami-no-ku, or upper poem, with the shimo-no-ku, or lower poem.(3)

My tanka poetry submission:

Cherry Blossom Dream

Spring raised a flurry
Of Cherry Blossom tree blooms,
Great plumes weaved a dream,
A sweet, pink heavenly swoon,
I lay beneath, dawn 'til moon.

Beautiful in its simplicity, like that of the haiku, tanka poetry is deceptively complicated when putting together a concept or theme that can match the format properly.

I enjoyed learning about tanka poetry and I think I will work on more poetry in this form for future posts.

Have you created tanka poetry before? I’d love to know!


Footnotes:(1,2,3) credit ‘Poets.org’

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