“Telling Tales with Tankas” ~ Today’s poem is an ancient form of Japanese poetry, “Tanka,” which 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 Haiku, which we will do later on and 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. Tanka poems usually tell a short little story about love, a moment, an event, a feeling, etc.
A “Tanka” poem is an unrhymed Japanese poem consisting of five lines ~ actually, 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. This is a poetry form, not free verse so we follow the instructions. J Here is that handy little syllable counter if you need it: SYLLABLE COUNTER
You will probably have to go back and turn the beginning of each line back into a lower case letter as your word program is going to want to capitalize the first letter of each line.
And here are a couple of my past examples and a brand new one this year:
“Timing of Posts is EVERYTHING”
even when among my friends
I say clever things
but no one responds to it
darn that Facebook anyway.
© 2011 Stephanie Abney
(A Tanka poem doesn’t really need a title; up to you)
surrounded by family
I know I am blessed
could anything be better
than having a grandchild’s love?
© 2014 Stephanie Abney
and reflect on my blessings
I lead a charmed life
a grandchild climbs on my lap
that is all the proof I need.
© 2022 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 to them as soon as they create them and especially once 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 your 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.