The following is my introduction that I first published in the spring 2005 premier issue of Ribbons journal
for the Tanka Society of America when serving as its founding editor, which I've slightly "revised"
for this website as it is still representative of what the tanka genre means to me.
Ribbons...so sensuous to the touch, how well they represent the humility, and yet the passionate nature of tanka. Ribbons are also a national folk symbol used to express emotions and feelings of pride, reward, accomplishment, the mark of excellence and creative expression. A sign of true loyalty to family, friends and loved ones. Ribbons represent traditional ties and have always been associated with special moments. They are tokens of remembrance, used in heraldry, on religious garments and to carry prayers; ribbons are used in dances, cut at grand openings; they represent fashion and design, signify allegiance or mourning, and their different colors have symbolic meanings. Ribbons, like tanka, nuture an aesthetic sense
of beauty and elegance and are a sign of nobility. Throughout the ages, ribbons were used on clothes as well a costumes, and favored by men and women alike. Heroes are decorated with ribbons, as well as trees and packages, flags, hair, flowers, graves, maypoles, footwear, musical instruments such as the tambourine and bagpipe, horns and bugles, etc. Quilts have been made out of ribbons, the peace dove carries a ribbon, and bookmarks are often made from ribbon. Parade floats, advertsing boards, kites, and valentines are oo adorned with ribbons. There are keepsake ribbons, membership ribbons, good luck ribbons, political ribbons, ribbon candy, ribbons used at weddings, births and funerals, as well as military ribbons, contest place ribbons, and many more. When we think of tanka as well as other poetry, we think of ribbons--"I'll tell you how the sun rose/one ribbon at a time"--Emily Dickinson. Not to mention numerous other ribbons in nature such as
ribbons of clouds, seaweed ribbons, winding creeks, streams and rivers, the curl of an ocean wave or an autumn leaf, ribbons of hanging moss, silk spider strands, a ribbon plant, the ribbon of land along a shoreline and so forth. The tanka at this site are individual word-ribbons woven together from the fabric of my own life and culture that I share with you.
love ya, an'ya