Study in Poetry Form: Tanka

Tanka is another Japanese form of poetry similar to Haiku. Like Haiku, traditional Tanka often deal with nature and love. Most poets I know concentrate on the form of the Tanka and drive it in fascinating directions. I recently read an article comparing Tanka to the Western Sonnet. When I first read it, I said, “no way.” Now, I’m seeing it. Can’t explain it yet, but I’m proceeding as though the two forms are comparable. What do you think?

It’s playing with these beautiful forms and seeing the changes they are making in our modern poetry that make poetry so much fun.

Here’s the basic format for writing a Tanka: 

Line 1: 5 syllables

Line 2: 7 syllables

Line 3: 5 syllables

Line 4: 7 syllables

Line 5: 7 syllables

Here’s my take on a modern Tanka

Mindful of the crack

Feather floating mindfully

Beyond the clamor

Soaring into the cosmos

Frightfulness lost long ago

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