Tanka Origins 

digital publication

a late tide

wrinkles the shore

I wonder

how many more calendars

will yet hang on my wall

 

Pris Campbell

USA

This fine tanka by Pris not only comes alive with the visuals of the tide wrinkling the sand in line two, it’s also

a metaphor for aging. In the next 3 lines, Pris muses about how much longer her life on this earth, will last. However, she doesn’t “tell” us this, rather she “shows” readers by using the word “calendars” for counting 

her “time left”, day by day, week by week, month by month or hopefully year by year. Wonderful work!

a late tide

wrinkles the shore

I wonder

how many more calendars

will yet hang on my wall

Pris Campbell

USA

                                                             

******

in the snow

I wait for you under

a lamplight

 with breathless kisses

we melt an evening's coldness

oyoguhito

UK

Wow, loved this one by oyoguhito! A fine tanka rhythm of 4/short, 6/long, 4/short, 6/long, 6/long. It flows and reads

from line to line like snow melt. The subject of “love” is sometimes too mauldin, but this one doesn’t read that way. It needs not say anything else other than what it says in the last two lines. This author is one to watch for more breathless tanka to come.

in the snow

I wait for you under

a lamplight

 with breathless kisses

we melt an evening's coldness

oyoguhito

UK

******

her scent 

on that soft summer night

confession

of an undying love

now faded to oblivion

Richard St. Clair

USA

This tanka submitted by Richard skillfully includes multiple senses, “smell/scent” in line 1, “touch/soft” in line 2, “speak/confession” in line 3, “emotion/love” in line 4, and “sight” or rather “out of sight/oblivion” in his closing line. Richard’s use of the word “confession” is especially fine, and creates a unique pivot to connect the flow of this whole tanka together.

her scent 

on that soft summer night

confession

of an undying love

now faded to oblivion

Richard St. Clair

USA

******

ready

to drip like a tear

ripe words...

better that the wind

would take them away

Diana Teneva

Bulgaria

A personal type tanka by Diana that probably everyone can relate to in their own life at some point in time. Those words on the tip of your tongue about ready to be spill out until you think twice about what you want to say or don’t want to say. Words that are “ripe” (great adjective), which would be better off if the “wind (nature reference) would take them away.”

ready

to drip like a tear

ripe words...

better that the wind

would take them away

Diana Teneva

Bulgaria

******

honeysuckle vines

touched by the gentle breeze

that led you through life

I wander a fence line

looking for an opening

Darrell Lindsey

USA

A poignant tanka written by Darrell, and I would like to praise him for the fine way he twisted the kami-no-ku (upper phrase) into the shimo-no-ku (lower phrase). This tanka can be interpreted different ways, some might say the person has died, and others might think the person is still here. With these few words from Darrell you decide:  “the person in this tanka identifies the gentle breeze with the spirit of the person. The life force.”

honeysuckle vines

touched by the gentle breeze

that led you through life

I wander a fence line

looking for an opening

Darrell Lindsey

USA

******

an up-hill walk

between the roots and rocks

along our lake

I pause to rest my body

and retrieve your memory

 

Adelaide B. Shaw

USA


 

This fine tanka by Adelaide is indicative of life’s ups-and-downs shown through nature concepts. Upon reading you

can imagine this person walking alone and ultimately (while resting their body), retrieving memories, specific memories about a person no longer with them for whatever reason. The middle line also provides a strong pivot in Adelaide’s tanka.

an up-hill walk

between the roots and rocks

along our lake

I pause to rest my body

and retrieve your memory

Adelaide B. Shaw

USA

******

refugees

reach the mountains

each snowflake

searches for a place

to kiss the ground

Mark Gilbert

UK


 

A tanka from Mark that could be about the past or present or both, as well as anywhere in the world. The metaphor of “snowflakes” for “refugees” is interesting, but then Mark hits us with that powerful closing punch-line in the words “to kiss the ground.” This is a hard-hitting write, could we even ask for anything more in just five lines down.

refugees

reach the mountains

each snowflake

searches for a place

to kiss the ground

Mark Gilbert

UK

******

 I walk

a field to feel the flowers'

music

where the sunset becomes

wine for cupid's arrow

 

Lee Felty

USA

A lovely tanka by Lee. I especially admire her use of the word “feel” rather than “hear” in reference to the “flowers’ music”, for it’s things like this that set one tanka apart from others. The last two lines are just as impactful as one can imagine someone waiting all day for a sweetheart to appear, or are they just hoping that “cupid’s arrow” will bring them someone? Lee’s wine (red for me) represents the color of love.

I walk

a field to feel the flowers'

music

where the sunset becomes

wine for cupid's arrow

 

Lee Felty

USA

******

the busyness

and weariness of now

they toss about

regulating their sleep

by one another's

 

R. K. Singh

India 


 

An age-old concept to this tanka by R. K. in keeping with the spirit of the genre. It could be about any couple doing any kind of busy work and the weariness of how they feel, especially when trying to come down from the day. The word “regulating” is a fine verb choice that depicts a close relationship and the tenderness of respecting another person’s rhythm.  


the busyness

and weariness of now

they toss about

regulating their sleep

by one another's

 

R. K. Singh

India 

******

the echo

of a door slammed—    

enough

if only once

you have regrets

 

Marilyn Fleming

USA

This interesting write by tanka poetess Marilyn is special because of her ambiguous play on words, and a unique pivot line. Can you imagine the person left behind saying “enough”! (in reference to the slamming of a door), and then also saying it would be “enough” if the person leaving would only once have regrets. I can hear the door echo slam over and over again.


the echo

of a door slammed—    

enough

if only once

you have regrets

Marilyn Fleming

USA

******

last light

on the horizon...

snowflakes drift

into the silence

of my attic world

 

Chen-ou-Liu

Canada


 

Leave it to a well known tanka poet Chen-ou to always create “atmosphere” in his tanka, as well as give us superb visuals. This is the kind of tanka you can step right into literally. Upon reading I was immediately enjoying the silence of that attic world right alongside this author watching that “last light on the horizon”; this tanka makes good use of bringing nature indoors.

last light

on the horizon...

snowflakes drift

into the silence

of my attic world

 

Chen-ou-Liu

Canada

******

sudden path— 

all those talks of blue sky

are not false

one step after another

I follow it back home

 

Neelam Dadhwal

India

 

 

Speaking of stepping into a tanka, this one by Neelam allows readers to follow her in coming back from something left unsaid. Perhaps a tanka about recovery which can be interpreted in a different way by each reader. It gives me the feeling of being “found” or “saved”; a ray of hope for the skeptic and the weary. Thank you Neelam for the real “blue sky”...

sudden path— 

all those talks of blue sky

are not false

one step after another

I follow it back home

 

Neelam Dadhwal

India

******

returning

from a long holiday...

ribbons

of old cobwebs

welcome me home

 

Taofeek Ayeyemi (Aswagaawy)

Nigeria


 

This tanka by Taofeek from Nigeria has two sides to it. The visual reference to”ribbons of old cobwebs” for one person might be a lonely visual, but the beauty of thought to another reader. I choose the second option because the “welcome me home” last line is the most important in this tanka. We all like to get away for awhile, but coming home to a familiar place, ( even with cobwebs), is the point.

returning

from a long holiday...

ribbons

of old cobwebs

welcome me home

Taofeek Ayeyemi (Aswagaawy)

Nigeria

******

midnight yoga

I opened the window   

in my mind's eye

and saw a mistress moon

too hot for this evening

 

Ernesto P. Santiago

Greece


 

Ernesto’s tanka (a rhythmic 4,6,4,6,6) composition, is a sensual moment indeed. During yoga the author’s mind wanders and a window of thought, is opened. Ernesto shares this time by using the nature reference of “a mistress moon.” Are we to believe the weather was too hot for the evening, or is his mistress moon a metaphor?” A little mystery is always a plus in any tanka.

 

 

 

 

midnight yoga

I opened the window   

in my mind's eye

and saw a mistress moon

too hot for this evening

Ernesto P. Santiago

Greece

******

 

long journey 

home to my village 

noon breeze

bringing maple leaves 

down to the ground

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya 

Indonesia 

 

 

This tanka by Agus gives readers a strong sense of time (regardless of whatever season), and place (with the words "my village"). However, what it doesn’t tell us, is how far did the author have to travel on this long journey, how many seasons did it take to get there, and returning home for what?; the rest is left up to each reader to come to their own conclusion.

long journey 

home to my village 

noon breeze

bringing maple leaves 

down to the ground

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya 

Indonesia 

******

peace lilies

sprout in my garden

heirlooms

nurtured with the love

you couldn't give me

 

Debbie Strange

Canada

 

 


 

A beautiful tanka shared with us by Debbie who has such classic a way with words! She accomplishes this in the first three lines by talking of “peace lilies and “heirlooms.” However, she surprises her readers in lines four and five when the direction of this tanka takes a melancholy turn. Debbie is very much adept at creating a whole story in just five lines, as you can see in this tanka.

peace lilies

sprout in my garden

heirlooms

nurtured with the love

you couldn't give me

Debbie Strange

Canada

******

careless strokes

of summer light filtered

through windows

stained glass refractions

from a pothole puddle

 

Elancharan Gunasekaran

Central Singapore


 

A  tanka by Elancharan with visuals that come alive, but the way they came alive, is exceptional. First, we see “careless strokes” (great wording) of “summer light/filtered through windows.” Not just ordinary light however, but the physics of rays of light in passing obliquely from one medium into another… from “a pothole puddle”, making an ordinary window into a work of art.

careless strokes

of summer light filtered

through windows

stained glass refractions

from a pothole puddle

 

Elancharan Gunasekaran

Central Singapore

******

whispering

love to the clouds

summer sun

                                                    how your cheeks glow                                                      under my gaze

 

Richa Sharma

India

This is an intoxicating tanka by Richa that “yes” personifies the “summer sun”, however it also provides an excellent line three pivot. In haiku, poetic devices are quite rare, but in the tanka genre, we are given more space for expressing our emotions which was accomplished by Richa in the final two lines. The juxtaposition of sunglow and the person’s cheeks aglow is also a plus.


 

whispering

love to the clouds

summer sun

                                                    how your cheeks glow                                                      under my gaze

 

Richa Sharma

India

******
 

winter sun 

scatters the remnants

of darkness

my way home seems

longer and lonelier

 

Chen-ou Liu

Canada


 

Another wonderful visual tanka (lines one through three) from Chen-ou, becoming a statement tanka in lines four and five. Only an experienced writer can accomplish this correctly. Not as easy as it sounds, because the first part must be deeply enhanced by the second part. The final line with the words “longer and lonelier” accomplishes this, and also provides us with “l” sounds that will linger beyond the read...

winter sun 

scatters the remnants

of darkness

my way home seems

longer and lonelier

 

Chen-ou Liu

Canada

******

heavy rain— 

red roses you brought me  

and I too

begin to fade away

behind the closed louvers

 

Lavana Kray

Romania


 

In this tanka by a Lavana who is not only a fine writer, but also a fine photographer, she has created a word picture. Lavana first talks of “red roses” in line 2, and then compares them to self in line 3. They both begin to fade away, one without the sun and the other behind closed louvers. Are the louvers closed becaue of loneliness, desolation,  privacy, or just closing out the heavy rain; perhaps we have to use our imagination…

heavy rain— 

red roses you brought me  

and I too

begin to fade away

behind the closed louvers

 

Lavana Kray

Romania

******

clearly echoing

in the valley of the hill

an eagle's voice

is this showing its strength

or is it a lonesome scream

 

Neni Rusliana

Indonesia


 

Here is an unusual submission by Neni, which to my mind, is a “question tanka”,  and the same as a statement tanka, the final lines should deeply enforce the first part. Reni has heard an “eagle’s voice” but as a human, cannot determine its intent, hence the question is posed, and therefore left up to each reader to relate it to their own feelings and choose an answer...

clearly echoing

in the valley of the hill

an eagle's voice

is this showing its strength

or is it a lonesome scream

 

Neni Rusliana

Indonesia

******

 

oh moon,

speak to me

just once. . . 

the night laced 

with coyote howls

 

robert d. wilson

Philippines


 

A simple straightforward write by robert with a short but correct tanka rhythm. However there’s hidden meaning

to this one, especially if you understand coyotes. Group howls are often a response to lone howls, or to other group howls where they're reaching out to contact other coyotes. Are the words “oh moon, speak to me just once,” a comment that conveys Robert’s meaning indirectly; a parable perhaps…or not...

oh moon,

speak to me

just once. . . 

the night laced 

with coyote howls

 

robert d. wilson

Philippines

******

paddling

in a tandem kayak

no choice 

but to travel 

in the same direction

 

Marianne Paul

Canada

 

 

Marianne’s tanka is about teamwork between two individuals that have no choice but to work together since they are in “a tandem kayak”. Does their relationship always travel “the same direction”, or is this a kind of therapy to keep them close? Marianne doesn’t tell us too much so all sorts of reasons might be applied depending on our own relationship with another, whether it be a friend, family, lover, business partner, or? 

paddling

in a tandem kayak

no choice 

but to travel 

in the same direction

 

Marianne Paul

Canada

******

in the midst

of charismatic 

renewal

I copy her faith

doing and being

Anne Curran

New Zealand

******


 

This tanka by Anne speaks of a personal experience with another person, obviously someone she greatly admired

We often copy those we admire, and in this case it was "her faith" in line 4, and the concept of that faith is revealed in line 5. The rhthym is a perfect 3,5,3,5,5 that is also to be admired by readers and other tanka poets. Thanks Anne for sharing this with us. 

 

in the midst

of charismatic 

renewal

I copy her faith

doing and being

Anne Curran

New Zealand

******

as ringing bells

fade away into silence...

orchids die off

never having known 

how beautiful they were

 

Vasile Moldovan

Romania


 

A tanka by Vasile that uses the “zoom” effect to its advantage. In line one, we hear “ringing bells” but in line two they “fade away into silence”. Line three snaps us back to a moment of reality as our mind and eyes zoom in on the orchids. In the final two lines, although we must accept their death, we are also the fortunate ones (as humans) having known and appreciated how beautiful they were.

as ringing bells

fade away into silence...

orchids die off

never having known 

how beautiful they were

 

Vasile Moldovan

Romania

******

that faraway look 

in grandmother's eyes 

winter deepens 

and I take one more step

out of her shadow

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya 

Indonesia

 

 

This tanka by Agus could be interpreted many different ways by readers. For me it’s a heartfelt tanka about watching a loved one (who is in the winter of her life) slip slowly away. Therefore the author is preparing for the inevitable with the words “and I take one more step out of her shadow”, perhaps trying to cope and fade quietly

out of the picture as well; a very comtemplative tanka.

 

that faraway look 

in grandmother's eyes 

winter deepens 

and I take one more step

out of her shadow

Agus Maulana Sunjaya 

Indonesia

******

 

 

wildflowers

bloom inside my lungs,

every sense

alive with the fragrance

of this exquisite world

 

Debbie Strange

Canada


 

How great is it to be able to actually breath in this tanka by Debbie, and let those wildflowers also bloom in our lungs! Debbie makes good use of multiple "l" sounds throughout. This is a tanka that truly takes us on a journey

out of the material world and into a realm where everything is exquisite, and our senses come alive with the fragrance. of wildflowers.

wildflowers

bloom inside my lungs,

every sense

alive with the fragrance

of this exquisite world

 

Debbie Strange

Canada

******


 

   at sundown

    counting our losses

    on the trail

   you walk behind me

    suddenly older

 

Leslie Bamford

Canada


 

By Leslie, this tanka is one of understanding what it’s like to suddenly feel older. Why, and at what age this happens to a person, varies for everyone, but we all will feel this same thing in our lives, perhaps not only once, but many times over. However there is reason to this as the feeling was set up in line two with the three words “counting our losses.” 

  at sundown

    counting our losses

    on the trail

   you walk behind me

    suddenly older

 

Leslie Bamford

Canada

******

         

with gps ships

no need for our lighthouse— 

now automated

the sweep of Point Pinos beam*

counts of unnumbered gulls

 

Neal Whitman

USA

 

Neal’s tanka is about “historical nostalgia”, (a topic popular in Japan) that should more often be explored by all tanka poets. Neal is a volunteer docent at the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove; here are his words: 

 

* Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, California, is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. It still uses the original 1855 lens that beams 17 miles across the ocean in clear weather. It was automated in 1975 with a three seconds on/one second off pattern 24/7.

with gps ships

no need for our lighthouse— 

now automated

the sweep of Point Pinos beam*

counts of unnumbered gulls

 

Neal Whitman

USA

******

Author Biographies


 

The short forms of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She won a Bronze award in the 2018 Ito-en competition and a Sakura award in the 2018 Vancouver Cherry Blossom contest. A book of tanka has been published by Nixes Mate Press. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she now lives a quieter life in Lake Worth, SE Florida with her husband and cat.

 

***

 

My name is Anne Curran. I have been writing Japanese short verse forms for several years. Every day provides fresh and exciting opportunities when it comes to my enjoyment of writing.  I have learned so much from reading my peer writers and from working with editors and tutors alike.

 

***

 

R.K.Singh, born, brought up and educated in Varanasi, till recently Professor at IIT--ISM,  Dhanbad, has been writing tanka and haiku for the last four decades. He is a widely published poet with 19 collections, including Growing Within (English/Romanian, 2017) and God Too Awaits Light (2017), to his credit.

 

***

 

Marilyn Fleming is a Wisconsin short form poet and occasionally dabbles in sumi-e brush painting. Her special interests are Japanese forms of poetry, (haiku, tanka, haiga, haibun and tanka prose.) She is widely published in the US as well as internationally. You can follow her on https://twitter.com/mflem9811

***

 

Ernesto P. Santiago spends most of his free time by dividing it between here and there trying to learn something. He is too small for his ego. He is enough for himself. Born in Philippines, he lives in Greece, where he still continues exploring the poetic myth of his senses.

 

***

 

Adelaide B. Shaw has been creating tanka, tanka prose, haiku, haibun, and photo haiga for 50- years. Her haiku book, An Unknown Road, won third place in the HSA Kanterman Merit Book Awards.  Her second book of haiku, The Distance I’ve Come, is due to be out soon.

 

***

 

Elancharan Gunasekaran is a multidisciplinary artist and poet. He has a strange love for all things poetical and Sci-Fi A winner of the Montblanc X Esquire Six-word Story prize 2017. His latest publications are Superatomicluminal (Hesterglock Press, UK), Gods of the Gonzo (Analog Submission Press, UK), The Cosmosnaut Manifesto (Underground Books, New York), Sleeping with Wildflowers (Alien Buddha Press, Arizona/New York), Deviant Flames and Dark Revolver (Roman Books, India/UK).

 

***

 

My name is Neni Rusliana, I’m 56 years old, an Indonesian citizen, and a painter, (especially glass painting). I also enjoy writing haiku and tanka very much, and have fallen in love with both genre.

 

***

 

Lavana Kray is from Iasi, Romania. She is passionate about photography and poetry and has won several awards, including the status of Master Haiga Artist, from the World Haiku Association. Her work has been published in many print and online journals. She is the haiga editor for the UHTS journal Cattails. Vist Lavana's Blog:

 photohaikuforyou.blogspot.ro

 

***

 

Chen-ou Liu lives in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.  He is the author of five books, including Following the Moon to the Maple Land (first prize, 2011 Haiku Pix Chapbook Contest) and A Life in Transition and Translation (honorable mention, 2014 Turtle Light Press Biennial Haiku Chapbook Competition). His haiku and tanka have been honored with many awards.

 

***

 

Oyoguhito is a poet living in The Mumbles, Gower, Wales, UK. He does most of his writing in his beach hut at Rotherslade Bay, on the Gower.

 

***

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya lives in Indonesia, teaching physics and mathematics at college, and has been writing English Language haiku for 3 years.  Agus' works had appeared in Wales Haiku Journal, Hedgerow, Frogpond, Akitsu Quarterly, NHK Masters, The Mainichi, The Asahi Haikuist, Under the Basho, Chrysanthemum, and others. https://twitter.com/agusmsunjaya

 

***

 

ARicha Sharman, an avid sky watcher and a dreamer, resides in India and loves to read and write poetry. Some of her poems have been published in Better Than Starbucks, Mojave Heart Review, Wales Haiku Journal, Failed Haiku, Asahi Haikuist Network, Poetry Pea and others. 

 

***

 

Debbie Strange is an internationally published short form poet, haiga artist and photographer, whose creative passions connect her more closely to the world and to herself. She maintains a publication and awards archive on her blog at debbiemstrange.blogspot.com, which also includes hundreds of haiga and reviews of her books. Please visit her on https://twitter.com/Debbie_Strange.

 

***

Neal Whitman and his wife, Elaine, live in Pacific Grove, California. He is haiku editor for Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, on the editorial board of the Romanian Haiku Society, as well as  vice president of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. 

***

 

Diana Teneva is a Bulgarian writer. Her poems have been published in many journals, including Sketchbook , A Journal for Eastern and Western Short Forms, World Haiku Review, The Heron’s Nest, The Mainichi – Haiku in English, Asahi Haikuist Network by The Asahi Shimbun, A Hundred Gourds, Shamrock – Haiku Journal of the Irish Haiku Society, and Chrysanthemum. Some of them are translated into Russian, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Croatian.

 

***

 

Richard St. Clair, a New Englander born in North Dakota, is active as both poet and composer. His tanka have appeared in Atlas Poetica. A prolific composer of modern classical music, his work has spread to four continents. He has set many traditional and modern tanka and haiku to music.

 

***

Ms. Neelam Dadhwal is from Chandigarh, India. She spends her leisure time writing haiku, tanka, haibun and painting haiga. Her previous works can be found at The Living Haiku Anthology. She maintains online profiles at https://twitter.com/neelamdadhwal   and  https://www.instagram.com/neelamdadhwal

***

Taofeek Ayeyemi fondly called Aswagaawy is a lawyer, writer and proud haijin whose works have appeared and/or forthcoming in Modern Haiku, Cicada's Cry, 100Bards of 2019, Tuck Magazine, The Quills, Akitsu Quarterly, Failed Haiku, Frogpond, Seashores, Presence, The Mamba and elsewhere. He won the PoeticWednesday Poetry Contest, 2018.

***

Mark Gilbert is based in Nottinghamshire in the UK and has been writing tanka for over 10 years. Examples may be found in the journals Atlas Poetica, Skylark, Jalmurra and the anthology Neon Graffiti: Tanka Poetry of Urban Life.

 

***

 

Lee Felty is a poet of Japanese short form poems. From the time she began writing tanka daily, she has felt more balance in her life. She is a published New England poet and writes most often about that region. Writing the turn in a tanka is Lee's sudoku.

 

***

 

Leslie Bamford spends as much time outdoors as she can given the wacky Canadian climate. She often composes tanka in her head while gardening, boating and hiking with her husband and their dog. She is happy to be have been published in publications such as Moonbathing, Gusts, cattails, Daily Haiga and several editions of Bright Stars.

 

*** 

 

Marianne Paul is a Canadian poet and novelist. She is a member of Tanka Canada, and the Tanka Society of America. Her short-form poems have appeared in a wide variety of publications. She tries to live by Basho’s words: It’s better to live poetry than write it (although writing poetry is her sweet passion and her chosen way

of life).

***

Vasile Moldovan was born on June 20 in a Romanian village. He was co-founder (1991) and chairman of The Romanian Society of Haiku and published haiku and tanka in several magazines: Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Daily News, Haiku World Japan), Atlas Poetica, Lynx, moonset, Simply Haiku; also, he published two tanka books and five haiku booklets.

***

Darrell Lindsey's poetry has appeared in more than 70 journals, magazines, and anthologies.   His haiku and tanka have garnered numerous international awards. His Poets & Writers Directory listing can be found here: https://www.pw.org/content/darrell_lindsey 

***

 

Robert Wilson, owner and managing editor of Simply Haiku, an online literary journal showcasing Japanese

short form poetry. He is a painter, and the author of an as yet unpublished mystery novel entitled "Late For Mass." Robert is also a performing poet, who reads and performs his poetry on cable television, radio, college campuses, in bookstores, and in saloons.

Thanks for reading the Premier Edition of Tanka Origins. Bookmark this page and I'll see you in December 2019.