Tanka Origins 

digital publication

 

Tanka Origins

Editor's Introduction

If anyone finds any errata or omissions, please feel free to contact me directly at tankaanya@gmail.com

Publication certificates for the Editor's Choice tanka "only", will be emailed shortly, to print out.

 

For this Tanka Origins Edition, again I received a multitude of fine submissions, So many that it's increasingly difficult to select which ones to publish, but the ones I’ve selected, in my opinion, are what I believe to be the finest English examples of the tanka genre.

Having said this, I also have to say this is the final edition of Tanka Origins as it has gone into overdrive. With each edition and so many email submissions coming to my inbox, it is a daunting task to select only 25 tanka. Even though I cannot continue, a sincere thank you to those who made Tanka Origins a success.

 

All rights revert to the author upon publication, and if your tanka is reprinted anywhere, Tanka Origins must be cited as the first place of publication. On another note, please know that I am always open to workshopping anyone's tanka in a private email.

Editor’s Choices 

thunder

sounding nature’s passion

and mine

the tingle of your touch

adds lightning to my soul

Terrie Jacks

USA

 

One of my Editor’s Choices is this stellar tanka written by Terrie Jacks from the USA. I immediately liked it upon first reading. In line 1, Terrie simply stated the word “thunder”, a word used in many other tanka. However, in this tanka, it flowed right into the second line which definitely and creatively deepened the concept. Line 3 matched the two syllables in line 1 which gave it a flowing rhythm. Then came the dramatic closure and juxtaposition that makes this tanka as special as any court tanka written. Nice work Terrie! 

 

thunder

sounding nature’s passion

and mine

the tingle of your touch

adds lightning to my soul

 

Terrie Jacks

USA

______

the ifs

and if only’s

my thoughts

are ferried off

by the march wind

 

Marilyn Fleming

USA

 

This Editor’s Choice tanka is by Marilyn Fleming who consistently composes fine tanka. Her subject material is something everyone can relate to probably more than once in their own lifetime, and these are the very most successful and memorable type of tanka written. A perfectly crafted piece with an excellent verb choice of “ferried” which sets it apart and makes it worth reading over and again. Thank you Marilyn for submitting this one to Tanka Origins.

 

the ifs

and if only’s

my thoughts

are ferried off

by the march wind

 

Marilyn Fleming

USA

______

in quarantine

after crossing borders

my thoughts

now flow to Anne Frank

more than ever before

Lakshmi Iyer

India

 

During these times I’ve read and passed on many “pandemic related” tanka, but this Editor’s Choice written

by Lakshmi from India caught my attention. It’s neither optimistic or pessimistic, rather it’s emphatic to this modern day world crisis situation while alluding to a past situation. Her reference and comparsion of being quarantined to Anne Frank’s isolation is unique and noteable. Thanks to Lakshmi for allowing readers to see this world virus from her personal perspective. 

 

in quarantine

after crossing borders

my thoughts

now flow to Anne Frank

more than ever before

 

Lakshmi Iyer

India

______

                                                                              she appeases

him much more than I

ever will

my green eyes suck colour

from her rosy cheeks

Anne Curran

NZ

 

Here is a poignant Editor’s Choice tanka written by Anne Curran from New Zealand. It leaves much up to the reader to decide who “she” is and why “she” appeases “him” more. Could it be a lover or a mother, a sibling, or someone else? The real clincher comes in the last two lines which is an interesting example of the element of surprise. An intriguing and expressive tanka Anne, thank you for sharing this one of yours!

she appeases

him much more than I

ever will

my green eyes suck colour

from her rosy cheeks

Anne Curran

NZ

______

expressing

my feelings of loss

pointless

trying to lasso

a butterfly

                                                                                                                                                  

Richard Kakol

Australia

 

This Editor's Choice is a supburb tanka, and a very well written succinct piece by Richard Kakol of Australia. Succinct yes, but not incomplete. I often talk about submissions that are short poems” rather than "tanka", and this one serves as a good example of the difference. Richard’s content is melodic with its s, l, s, l, l format, it has a “twist in content'' from the upper lines to the last two lines, and also has a middle line “pivot” connecting human nature and mother-nature together. A special thank you to Richard for this fine example of the “tanka genre”. 

expressing

my feelings of loss

pointless

trying to lasso

a butterfly

                                                                                                                                                  

Richard Kakol

Australia

______

meandering

clouds weave in and out

my storm-tossed head

as self-doubs nible

the last bits of me

Rashmi VeSa

India

This is an outstanding tanka submitted by Rashmi VeSA from India, that has everything. A perfect short, long, short, long, long songful melody, a nature plus a human element, metaphor, excellent word choices, it just has everything! As most of you know, I very rarely don't make a minor suggestion or two, but not this time. Very impressive Rashmi!

meandering

clouds weave in and out

my storm-tossed head

as self-doubs nible

the last bits of me

Rashmi VeSa

India

______

the stone

beneath my breastbone

melts at last—

on the cusp of morning

the singing starts anew

 

Jenny Ward Angyal

USA 

 

This tanka with its "internal rhyme"is by Jenny Ward Angyal from the USA. Half of the success of any tanka is up to the reader, and this tanka needs to be read more than once in order to fully grasp the breadth of its meaning which is left up to interpretation. In lines one and two what is meant by “the stone/beneath the breastbone”? I interpreted it as “a cold heart” that in line 3 melts because of morning birdsong, or perhaps it was the author’s heart singing because of a lover that stayed the night... 

 

the stone

beneath my breastbone

melts at last—

on the cusp of morning

the singing starts anew

 

Jenny Ward Angyal

USA 

______

trying to find

my future girlfriend

in a vast sea…

this dream of hollow masks

and broken mirrors  

 

Jacob Salzar

USA

 

This is a modern day tanka by Jacob Salzar from the USA. I agree with Jacob when he says “I think using the adjective "broken" could imply how fragmented some parts of society seem to be”. His reference also to “hollow masks” is to me a juxtaposition of how difficult it must be to meet a “future new girlfriend” in these times. Thanks Jacob for your tanka!

 

trying to find

my future girlfriend

in a vast sea…

this dream of hollow masks

and broken mirrors  

 

Jacob Salzar

USA

______

 

fallen stars

all the time we spent

looking for

what was lost between us

and what still remains

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya

Indonesia

 

This tanka is by Agus Maulana Sunjaya from Indonesia. It has a strong entry line and pause. Agus then carries on with the next 4 lines that connect and flow nicely into each other to form a complete thought pattern. Placing the “what was lost” and “what still remains” together in the final lines, makes this tanka work well and leaves the reader wondering why... thank you Agus!

 

fallen stars

all the time we spent

looking for

what was lost between us

and what still remains

 

Agus Maulana Sunjaya

Indonesia

______

                                                                                  naptime

my cat and I close our eyes

to the world

opening them only to confirm

each other’s presence

 

John J Han

USA

 

This is quite a delightful tanka written by John J Han from the USA. There are many different kinds of love, and the love of a pet is one of my personal favorite types. I can see this scenario so clearly and if you read it metaphorically, it could just as easily even be subtly applied to secret lovers. Thanks John for allowing readers the privilege of reading this one!

naptime

my cat and I close our eyes

to the world

opening them only to confirm

each other’s presence

 

John J Han

USA

______

bridge crossing

I still memorize  

the shadows

of large koi swimming

amid stepping stones

 

David He

China

 

Another excellent tanka by David He from China. Memorizing the shadows of koi amid the stepping stones is such a wonderful visual. We are not only allowed to see this image for the first time, but for many times thereafter. In addition, not only can I see these shadows from the bridge, I am taken right down amid those stepping stones to a time when the bridge probably wasn’t even there. Thanks David!

 

bridge crossing

I still memorize  

the shadows

of large koi swimming

amid stepping stones

 

David He

China

______

                                                                        a summer night                                                                                      concert in Schönbrunn garden—   

how the moon veils

her hands barely touching

the strings of a harp

 

Steliana Cristina Voice

                                                                                 Romania                                                                                                                                                                                   

A beautiful tanka composed by Steliana Cristina Voicu of Romania. She sets the stage in lines 1 and 2 taking us right into Schönbrunn garden. In the middle line, her use of the word “moon” rather than “moonlight”is a plus that enhances the verb “veils”; it’s not just the light but the moon itself that finishes off the beauty of this tanka with t lines 4 and 5 “her hands barely touching the strings of a harp”. Lovely tanka Steliana!

                                                                            a summer night                                                                                        concert in Schönbrunn garden—   

how the moon veils

her hands barely touching

the strings of a harp

 

Steliana Cristina Voice

                                        Romania                                       

                                                                                 ______

 

across my chest

at dawn spiders spin

gossamer silk

these threads gathering

fragments of my heart

 

Marilyn Ashbaugh

USA

 

First of all, I must say this one written by Marilyn Ashbaugh in the USA, is a beautiful and delicate tanka indeed. The visual of “gossamer silk” spun across a person’s chest is stunning. An even more breathtaking visual is to see those threads gatheringg heart fragments. Of course, there is much much more depth to Maryilyn’s tanka than just beautiful visuals! What was the hidden meaning, was her heart broken into pieces, and why? Being able to write a little mystery into tanka, is a gift. Thanks Marilyn!

 

across my chest

at dawn spiders spin

gossamer silk

these threads gathering

fragments of my heart

 

Marilyn Ashbaugh

USA

______

 

the lone seagull

on a shore pine branch

how long it waits

as waves touch and go

as waves touch and go 

 

Pravat Kumar Padhy

India

 

A very memorable tanka by Pravat Kumar Padhy from India. Suddenly, I am  a seagull alone waiting, waiting, waiting on a shore pine branch”. Pravat’s repetition in the final two lines enhances the concept of the tanka greatly, and only a skilled tanka poet could create the feeling Pravat has given readers in this tanka. It's yet another stunning example of his usual fine work!

 

the lone seagull

on a shore pine branch

how long it waits

as waves touch and go

as waves touch and go 

 

Pravat Kumar Padhy

India

______

the weight

of a thousand worries

wakes me. . .

what am I to do

with a day like this

 

Stacey Dye

USA

 

This tanka is by Stacey Dye in the USA, who has fastly become one of my most recent personal favorite female writers. Her writing is always in depth, spot-on for rhythm, content, and general readership relatability. We all have days like this, especially in troubled times when worries are at a peak. Thank goodness we have poetry to help us through the worries of each day. Keep up the good work Stacey, and thank you for your support of Tanka Origins!

 

the weight

of a thousand worries

wakes me. . .

what am I to do

with a day like this

 

Stacey Dye

USA

______

overheard

passing the lobby desk

directions

to my lover's floor

I push the button

Zane Parks

USA

I’m always intrigued by an unusual tanka like this one by Zane Parks, USA. It’s one of those ambiguous tanka that tweaks every readers’ imagination, or perhaps just leaves them in limbo. It could be applied in so many ways to so many instances by so many people. The possible interpretations for this tanka are numerous. What an interesting write bthanks to Zane!

overheard

passing the lobby desk

directions

to my lover's floor

I push the button

Zane Parks

USA

______

                                                                                                     

curled up

on my plush red couch

I pen poems…

love longing and loss

fill tear-stained pages

Marilyn Humbert

Australia

      

This tanka by Marilyn Humbert of Australia, steps right out of the Victorian era to me (which I love). The plush couch (I perceive red velvet), and the use of her word “pen” carries on with that feeling of nostalgia. The three “l”s, “love longing and loss” in line 4 truly wowed me! Thank you Marilyn for gracing the pages of Tanka Origins with your work!

 

curled up

on my plush red couch

I pen poems…

love longing and loss

fill tear-stained pages

Marilyn Humbert

Australia

______

from the forest edge

bordering a bright meadow

suppressing breaths

the calm movements of a bear

I lose all sense of time

Kiersta Recktenwald

USA

 

Here we have a tanka by Kiersta Recktenwald from the USA, and I too have experienced this myself having lived rurally and walked in the woods many times. With lilting birdsong, jackrabbits, squirrels,wildflowers,  etc. it is literally breathtaking when one runs across a bear. Kiersta’s final line is a perfect close to this moment, and let’s us linger for a while. Thanks Kiersta for sharing your experience!

from the forest edge

bordering a bright meadow

suppressing breaths

the calm movements of a bear

I lose all sense of time

Kiersta Recktenwald

USA

______

 

Canada

______

                                                                                 

in  your front yard

a magnolia unfurls

its blushing buds—

how I long to admire

the blossom inside

 

Ryland Shengzhi Li

India

This romantic tanka by Ryland Shengzhi Li from India depicts longing in an exquisite way. It’s meaning is so subtly erotic. Perhaps a “coming of age” tanka yet tastefully written, it captures the essence of court poetry indeed. The author may have had something else in mind and it may only be about the magnolia, but poetry is subjective and I thank Ryland for submitting this tanka! 

in your front yard

a magnolia unfurls

its blushing buds—

how I long to admire

the blossom inside

 

Ryland Shengzhi Li

India

______

 

lilacs

and silver stars stitched

in rows

stretching wall to wall

canopies of hope

 

Joanna Ashwell

                                                                                     UK                                                                                                                 

This uplifting visual tanka by Joanna Ashwell in the UK leaves me gazing at a quilt maybe at a show or shop. A pretty combination of lilac and silver colors, a large image stretched in display across the wall. I may have read it wrong, but thank you Joanna for letting me and Tanka Origin readers appreciate the work of another kind of artist giving “canopies of hope”, to all!

 

lilacs

and silver stars stitched

in rows

stretching wall to wall

canopies of hope

Joanna Ashwell

UK

______

                                                                                                                                                                              

distorting

our reflections

the ripples

from a rage stone

thrown in anger

 

Bryan Rickert

                          USA                          

This is a unique tanka by Bryan Rickert with a great word choice “rage” in line 4. The anger portrayed by distorted reflections rippling from a stone cast in anger, is brilliant. Bryan doesn’t say exactly why or who was angry, rather he just “showed” that anger instead of “told” us about it. Another tanka that everyone can relate to. Thank you for tweaking our emotions via poetry. Bryan! 

distorting

our reflections

the ripples

from a rage stone

thrown in anger

 

Bryan Rickert

      USA     

                                                                                     ______

blue butterfly

in and out my room

too  quickly-

I wish you'd stayed by me

until the verge of light

 

Lavana Kray

Romania

 

This “blue butterfly” tanka is by an experienced poetess, Lavana Kray from Romania. Perhaps it’s an inference to a secret lover who had to leave before daylight, or simply a "blue butterfly", or maybe something different entirely. However this is Japanese court style tanka at its very best and should be an inspiration to old and new tanka poets alike. Thank you Lavana!

 

blue butterfly

in and out my room

too  quickly-

I wish you'd stayed by me

until the verge of light

 

Lavana Kray

Romania

______

that hour 

between darkness and dawn

stillness 

as if the whole world seems 

to be holding its breath

Jan Foster

Australia

This tanka by Jan Foster from Australia is about my favorite time of morning when everything is still and silent. Jan puts it quite poetically in her final 2 lines which is a quality used in the tanka genre, unlike in haiku. This tanka openly expresses poetic license, and yet is based on natural world phenomena. An excellent example of the tanka rhythm" and very well written Jan!

 

that hour 

between darkness and dawn

stillness 

as if the whole world seems 

to be holding its breath

                                                                                                             

Jan Foster 

                                                                                  Australia                                                                                                  ______                

the waves 

leave my side of shore

a bit wet

I feel nothing but

to follow my heart

 

Neelam Dadhwal   

India

                                                                                                                     

A tanka written by Neelam Dadlhwal from India, is it literal or metaphorical? Is the wet side of shore indicative of a relationship with a damper on it, or did it leave a slight clue for the heart to follow? A mysterious tanka open to interpretation by every reader. Everyone likes a tanka like this as they can apply it to themselves any way they choose. Thank you Neelam!

 

the waves 

leave my side of shore

a bit wet

I feel nothing but

to follow my heart

 

Neelam Dadhwal 

India

______

                                         

sensing rue

a black butterfly

leads me on

how does it know

i am thinking of him

 

Richa Sharma

India

 

In this tanka by Richa Sharma of India, using the word “rue” as in “regret” is a fine word choice because it’s different. The reference to a “black butterfly” could mean something different to each reader. It might represent color or a darkness or even depression, as well as various other meanings, or just simply  be a "black butterfly" species. Contest judges look for this kind of tanka that they can comment on according to their own analysis. Thank you Richa!

sensing rue

a black butterfly

leads me on

how does it know

i am thinking of him

 

Richa Sharma

India

______

night news on mute...
I look out at the stars
breathe in
the silence of a world
longing for tenderness

Chen-ou Liu

Canada

For the very last tanka in this final edition of Tanka Origins, I chose yet another wonderful write by the talented poet Chen-ou Liu of Canada. Something we all need to do at this time is put the "night news on mute"...and definately take the time to do things like "look out at the stars",  and just "breathe in". Thank you to Chen-ou-Liu for sharing his heartfelt tanka with all of us!

night news on mute...
I look out at the stars
breathe in
the silence of a world
longing for tenderness

Chen-ou Liu

Canada

______

 

Biographies

(in no particular order)

 

Terrie Jacks, from the USA, started writing poetry back in the 1990’s, mostly humorous verse. She took up haiku, senryu and tanka around 2015, then added haiga   and has had some success with it. She never knows where her inspiration will come for any of her writing.

Marilyn Fleming: I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Perhaps, it was this small slice of life where the love of nature and simple things took root and were nourished. Thus, my special interest in Asian forms of poetry. I live with my husband, Keith and my beta fish, Picasso, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Lakshmi Iyer, homemaker in God's own country, Kerala, India discovered haiku’s origin/nuances in 2017. She’s active on 'Triveni', and involved in Lucas's Lily Pad, Harusame, EarthRise Rolling Collaboration, Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, Haiku Foundation, Bristol Museum Haiku, 7th Annual Golden Triangle, Anthology of Indian Haiku in English Language, Under the Basho, Australian Haiku Society, etc.

 

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.

Jenny Ward Angyal lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in Gibsonville, NC, USA.  Her tanka have appeared in many journals and may also be found on her blog, The Grass Minstrel. Her tanka collection, Moonlight on Water,  appeared in 2016.

David He: Zhuanglang No. 1 High School Gansu Province China.

Rashmi VeSa, writes Japanese short forms of poetry and lives in Bengaluru, India with her family. A workaholic with an exciting day job, for a few moments daily, she retreats to an alternate, stress-free life in the world of words. Her work has appeared in many haiku journals and anthologies. She is @RashmiVeSa on twitter. 

 

Jacob Salzer enjoys writing haiku, tanka, and haibun, and is the editor of 3 haiku anthologies: Yanty’s Butterfly, New Bridges, and Half A Rainbow.  His latest collection of haiku & tanka, Mare Liberum inspired by water and the sea, is available on lulu.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble websites. To learn more about Jacob and his work, visit his haiku website: https://jsalzer.wixsite.com/mareliberumhaiku

John J. Han (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is Professor of English and Creative Writing and Chair of the Humanities Division at Missouri Baptist University. Han is the author, editor, co-editor, or translator of twenty-three books. He has published numerous poems, as well as hundreds of critical essays and book reviews, worldwide.

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

 

Richa Sharma, 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.

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. Twitter: @agusmsunjaya

Steliana Cristina Voicu lives in Ploieşti, Romania and loves painting, poetry, Japanese culture, photography and astronomy. She has won the 3rd prize in the 2017 Le Prix Jocelyne Villeneuve, first prize in the 2015 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest and other prizes. Her works have been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

 

Marilyn Ashbaugh is a poet, nature photographer and organic gardener.  She is widely published in journals and anthologies featuring Japanese short-form poetry  including haibun, haiga, rengay, tanka, and haiku.  

 

Pravat Kumar Padhy has obtained his Masters of Science and Technology and a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, ISM Dhanbad. His poems are widely published and anthologized. He guest-edited “Per Diem, The Haiku Foundation, November Issue, 2019,”: Monoku about ‘Celestial Bodies’. His tanka, ‘I mingle’ is featured in the “Kudo Resource Guide”, University of California, Berkeley. Recently his Taiga (Tanka-Photo) is featured in the 20th Anniversary Taiga Showcase of American Tanka Society. He has seven collections to his credit. His poem “How Beautiful” is included in the Undergraduate English Curriculum at the university level.

Stacey Dye has had a love affair with words forever. She is moved by music, inspirational quotes and even keeps rocks with words engraved on them in her pockets. She has written everything from ad copy to poetry. Her primary focus is the human condition. Stacey lives with her husband Dennis, and her critters Elly and  Izzy. She's been featured in Moonbathing, Mused, red lights and Atlas Poetica.

Zane Parks lives on the Gulf coast of Florida with his wife and two cats. He's written haiku, senryu, tanka, haibun, tanka prose, renga and rengay. His book of haiku, senryu and tanka, “tiny droppings”, and book of haibun, “Journey”, were published via Lulu.com

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://www.twitter.com/DebbieStrange

Marilyn Humbert, lives in the Northern suburbs of Sydney NSW Australia. Her tanka and haiku appear in international and Australian journals, anthologies and online. Her free verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions and some have been published.

Kiersta Recktenwald: born in Maine, raised and educated internationally, Kiersta writes whenever possible, focussing on things cultural, spiritual, emotional, aesthetic, psychological and philosophical.  In her writing she does mostly tanka, free verse and ormal, a wide topic-variety of aphorisms, and deft but gentle humor. She now lives in Seattle.

Ryland Shengzhi Li is an American poet and artist. Poetry teaches Ryland how to pay attention to the world and to see its beauty and goodness, and he hopes to share this with his readers. Ryland's poems have appeared in journals such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Eucalypt, and Akitsu Quarterly. 

 

Joanna Ashwell, a writer from the north-east of England.  Is affiliated with various writing associations such as The British Haiku Society, The American Haiku Society and Tanka societies. Enjoys reading and writing haiku, tanka, cherita and other related forms.

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.

Bryan Rickert is from Belleville, Illinois. He has been published in a number of fine journals and anthologies. His haiku collection “Fish Kite” is available through Cyberwit Publishing. He is also the editor at The Living Senryu Anthology. 

 

Jan Foster, a former English teacher, lives in Geelong, in country Victoria, Australia. Her tanka, tanka prose, haiku, haibun and responsive sequences have been published in several international journals, as well as online. She’s a member of the Bottlebrush Tanka Group (Sydney) and the Phoenix tanka group (Geelong). Her favourite things include family, her garden, writing, a good book to read and a cryptic crossword to conquer.

 

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://www.twitter.com/neelamdadhwal and https://www.instagram.com/neelamdadhwal 

 

Richard Kakol: no bio available