One Man's Maple Moon: Memory Tanka by an'ya
like tangled fish hooks
to pick up only one
without all the others
(First Place, 2008 Tanka Society of America International Contest)
Chinese Translation (Traditional)
Chinese Translation (Simplified)
Judges’ Comments, which can be accessed at
Aphoristic, to be sure, but appropriately so and a wonderfully apt choice of image and metaphor, an’ya’s poem caught and kept our attention. The poem’s imaginative leap from “old memories” to “tangled fish hooks” carries remarkable force; it may not be a pretty image but it is, without doubt, a psychologically valid one, conveying both the character of fish hooks and the mixture of pleasure and pain that is human memory. There is nothing fancy here; the tone is matter-of-fact. It is a classic poem of the singular, durable image.
This sharp yet apt "fish hook" metaphor acknowledges three things: 1) It hurts; 2) It will hurt even more to take it out; and 3) it's "impossible/ to pick up only one [fish hook]/without all the others."