If you’ve been reading my blog, you know something about haiku, a minimalist poetic form of usually three lines, that originated in Japan in the 1600s. But, have you heard of tanka?
Tanka is a minimalist form of five lines and no more than 31 syllables. It originated in Japan more than 1,200 years ago. But, unlike haiku, tanka is not subtle nor is it matter-of-factly stated. To the contrary, it’s lyrical.
I’ve written a fair amount of tanka that’s been published. The following appeared in the journal, “Modern English Tanka,”
(Winter 2008, Vol. 3, No. 2):
selling the home
of my childhood,
cleaning every speck
before i disappear
Recently, I’ve been in contact with Pamela Babusci, founding editor and publisher of “Moonbathing.” This anthology features women poets.
Pamela has been writing tanka for some time. The following tanka by Pamela is from her own collection, “A Thousand Reasons”:
i count the stars
Pamela believes that writing tanka is “a poetic way to express your inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions.” She says “the great challenge is to write tanka succinctly in five lines and transform it into a short story.”
Life, in general, Pamela says, inspires her to write tanka on a daily basis. Love and longing are favorite themes for her. She says she always writes from the heart, “writing raw and exposing my soul into the fabric of tanka.”
Pamela explains, “We all aspire to be loved, desired, needed. We have all been in love and lost that love, been hurt, been joyful/elated, been lonely/sad.”
Further, she says, “When I write, I become part of the tanka, and tanka becomes part of me.”
As editor of “Moonbathing,” published twice-yearly, Pamela runs a great selection of tanka. Her goal for each issue is to “celebrate the woman’s voice, her unique moods, feelings, fears, joys, sorrows, and her soul, as only a woman can express.”
As for her own tanka anthology,
“A Thousand Reasons,” Pamela has gotten many favorable reviews.
Leza Lowitz, an award-winning author and poet, praises Pamela’s collection: “Hats off to Ms. Babusci for digging deep and unearthing the light in even the darkest moments of the heart.”
Those interested in learning more about “Moonbathing” and “A Thousand Reasons,” may email Pamela at:
Pamela will personally reply.
And, incidentally, I’ve read a lot of wonderful tanka, written by men, too. You can even check out the Tanka Society of America for information on this beautiful form.
If you’ve been writing haiku, and then you begin to write tanka, it may be hard, at first, to switch gears in style and form. But, for me, they are equally enjoyable and challenging to write well.