The "wish I had written these" TANKA PAGE


On this page are examples (with permission from the authors) of what I believe to be (imho) exceptional tanka that represents the genre in content and form. Tanka that I greatly admire by poets I greatly admire. I will be adding to this page from time to time, so be sure to stop back.



the ocean

was in a rage last night

but today,

these peace offerings

of blue mussels and kelp


Debbie Strange

(1st Place, 2018 TSA Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest)



wind on the hill

coming from the north;

my gift to you

if I had the power

to cool this sultry day 


Adelaide B Shaw

(cattails 2016)



autumn falls

I cling to thistles

again in the fog

my key left under the stone

in case I sleep too deep


Lavana Kray

(from her book Counterpoint)



on this night

of our awareness,

the aurora

brushes an ensō

across lake and sky


Debbie Strange

(HM, 2018 TSA Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest)



nearly winter

the days pass with a quickness

there is no point to ask
why I didn't pay attention


Adelaide B Shaw

(2006 TSA Anthology)



midnight train

dwindling with you -

only my eyes

need several minutes

to adjust to darkness


Lavana Kray

(from her book Counterpoint)



mute swans

under a moon bridge

the things

I should have confessed

make no difference now


Debbie Strange

(1st Place, 2016 Fleeting Words Tanka Contest)



slipping in with the cold
of December;
like a child I plan and dream
and polish my sparkle


Adelaide B Shaw

(moonset spring 2010)



a whiff of you

in the wet lavender

field -

I change my T-shirt

with the scarecrow's


Lavana Kray

( from her book Counterpoint)


gulls nesting

on the cottage roof

fallen feathers

sprouting from my boots

today, my feet have wings


Debbie Strange

(HM, 2015 Undertow Tanka Review Tanka Contest)



summer night voices—

we listen to katydids

and tree frogs;

our silent conversation

comes in soft breaths


Adelaide B Shaw

(Honorable Mention 2005 TSA International Tanka Contest Winner)



time runs out

and so do all those answers

without questions -

you can still find out

about my favourite colour


Lavana Kray

(from her book Counterpoint)



we hold hands

as we fall into sleep,

shared dreams

at the confluence

of our fingertips


Debbie Strange

(Atlas Poetica Special Feature: Dream Alchemy, September 2018)




something is going on 

in the desert -

the print of your steps

filled with tadpoles


Lavana Kray

(from her book Counterpoint)



your fingers

played a symphony

in my hair

when I was a cello

and you were the bow


Debbie Strange

(Tanka Editor's Choice, cattails, January 2015)



the languid nights gone

chill winds, hinting of winter

chase away lovers;

bare branches let in the sky

and the earth turns brown       


Adelaide B Shaw

(Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society Journal, 2005)



the dry ache

of a long goodbye

how do we

reach the other side

with the bridge washed out


Debbie Strange

(Tanka Editor's Choice, cattails, January 2016)



one by one,

the cherry trees begin

to die -

I overlook again

your indifference


Lavana Kray

(from her book Counterpoint)



Grandma’s crazy quilt

everything and anything

sewn together

piecing years of living

making her own sense     


Adelaide B Shaw

Red Lights, 2015



the graffiti

of firefly stars at dusk

we follow

until our eyes adjust

to the narrative of night


Debbie Strange

(Earth: Our Common Ground - A Song of Short Songs Anthology, April 2017)



his birthday today

so many years we came

with gifts of love;

a spring celebration

no longer observed       


Adelaide B Shaw

(Modern English Tanka; Ash Moon Anthology, 2006)



a lullaby

of snow fluttering

against the tent

unzipping our cocoons

we emerge into winter


Debbie Strange

GUSTS 20, Fall/Winter 2014




through a winter garden

of frost flowers . . .

there is a certain grace

in learning how to fall


Debbie Strange

(Mariposa 39, Autumn/Winter 2018)