Sunday, April 9, 2017

Day 9 ~ How to Write a “Tanka Poem” for “30 Poems in 30 Days” #NationalPoetryMonth


This form of Japanese poetry has been called, “The Grandmother of Haiku.” This is one of the oldest forms of poetry. It originated in Japan during the 7th century. Unlike the Haiku, which tends to focus on nature, these poems allow for emotional expression and were often written by both men and women as private messages to their lovers.

A “Tanka” poem is an unrhymed Japanese poem consisting of five lines ~ although, it’s kind of like some crazy “run-on” sentence as only the first word of the first line is capitalized and the period goes at the end of the very last word of the last line, with no need for commas along the way.

Tanka is generally written in two parts or ideas. The first three lines is one part, and the last two lines are the second part; kind of the end result of the first three lines. (The first three lines tend to describe what happened, what was felt and/or feared, etc., while the last two lines tend to represent a resolution or lesson learned).

This poem is distinguished by the number of lines and syllables instead of rhyme. Please take care to COUNT the syllables in the poem you create and only use 5 lines. Tanka poems consist of 31 syllables in the following pattern: 

Line 1 = 5 syllables
Line 2 = 7 syllables 
Line 3 = 5 syllables 
Line 4 = 7 syllables 
Line 5 = 7 syllables 

Be sure to COUNT OUT your syllables so you get it right. 

Here is one of my favorite examples, written by a somewhat unknown, but amazing award-winning poet, Sally Clark. And using a little different take on things, Sally’s poem is about a historical event, rather than a love poem.

Liberty bell rang
in seventeen fifty-three
struck an e-flat note
hairline crack begins to spread
starts split with Mother England.
           © 2008 Sally Clark ~ I have Sally Clark’s chapbook of poetry from this link – it is worth EVERY penny. I find her poems so thought provoking. (Just sayin’)

And here are a few of my past examples:

When our eyes first met
it sent tingles down my spine
I hoped you felt it
then we went out together
now we are soul mates.
           © 2014 Stephanie Abney

(A Tanka poem doesn’t really need a title; up to you)

I look around me
Surrounded by family
I know I am blessed
Could anything be better
Than having a grandchild’s love?
© 2014 Stephanie Abney

(This next one is CLEARLY NOT a love poem. Ha Ha)

Timing of Posts is EVERYTHING

Feel invisible
Even when among my friends
I say clever things
But no one responds to it
Darn that Facebook anyway.

         © 2011 Stephanie Abney

PLEASE REMEMBER ~ any poetry found on this blog, written by me, is my personal property and may not be used without my permission, other than sharing it as an example in a lesson or to read it to someone. The same goes for any poems that are shared in the comments of this blog or elsewhere online as a result of this challenge. They are the creative property of the person who writes them. These poems are their original work and no one may use them without their permission. It is understood that they own the copyright for to them as soon as they post them. Thanks so much!

Also, if you choose to post your poems on your own blog ~ that’s awesome. But PLEASE don’t just copy and paste my daily instructions, but rather post your poem on your blog or you FB wall or wherever AND LINK BACK TO THIS BLOG POST for others to come here to read the instructions. I’ve spent considerable time researching the poetry forms and writing them up to share with you. Thanks for respecting my work. 



Vicki said...

Day 9-Tanka Poem

A Grandson's blessing
What a wonderful event
To be a part of
Grandchildren are so precious
We hold them close and cuddle

Aubri said...

I thought I knew you
and you somehow felt the same
so soon we shared meals
and kind words of hope and love
the best I can offer you.

Kristen said...

I like your Facebook poem. I feel like sometimes too. Alone in a digital crowd. Well captured!

Peggy Barker said...


A new born baby
came to earth with love
bonds the family
now a mother and father
welcomed their little one home.