Write Something Beautiful, Publishable in Five Lines

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
of dust
before i disappear
–Charlotte Digregorio

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”:

never satisfied
never satiated
no wonder
i count the stars
–Pamela Babusci

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.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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4 Responses to Write Something Beautiful, Publishable in Five Lines

  1. Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

    I have to tell you, that tanka is a great way to put those inner weavings of feelings and emotions into words and perspective. I wish I had more time for tanka. Pamela puts out a great effort in keeping tanka alive in a beautiful format. Another great tanka journal is red lights, Marilyn Hazelton editor. Just the other day Marilyn stopped me in my tracks in a day when my inner thoughts were screaming for attention … I stopped and created the haiga for her journal… and the glow of creating beautiful from such things surely a recipe for a happy life. Take time for tanka… advice I should apply to myself every day. Many thanks, Charlotte for Pamela’s great efforts in this area.

    • Thanks so much, Merrill, for your nice comments and your information. I hadn’t heard of Marilyn’s journal, but I will check it out. I always like discovering new publishing opportunities. And, by the way, I should write a blog about you sometime!

  2. snowbirdpress says:

    Hi, I just posted this on FB so I hope others will remember to make time for tanka too. Do a blog on me???? Lordy, I’m all over the place, where would you begin??? I feel like that old caterpiller in the chrysalis… any day now I’ll get my wings! 🙂 But Pamela and Marilyn have earned their wings … and they are doing marvelous things.

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