Friday, September 24, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Tanka

This month's challenge was to revisit poems written by other members of the group and write tanka in inspired by or in conversation with those poems.

Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry that has been practiced for more than 1000 years. Tanka is generally defined as a poem composed of 31 syllables in a 5-7-5-7-7 format. Most tanka focus on a single event of some significance.

I started this challenging by visiting the blogs of my sisters and reading through some of their poems. I selected one from each and tried to write to every choice. I promptly got stuck. I did a lot of syllable counting and found I was having trouble making complete thoughts fit on each line, which I felt was necessary. Enjambment doesn't feel right in this form, at least not to me. I did a little bit of reading and found this bit from the article Tanka as Diary by Amelia Fielden to be helpful.
Tanka, meaning ‘short song’, is a 1300 year old Japanese form of lyric poetry. Non-rhyming, it is composed in Japanese in five phrases of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.

In English, tanka are normally written in five lines, also without (contrived) rhyme, but in a flexible short/long/short/long/long rhythm. Due to dissimilarities between the two languages, it is preferable not to apply the thirty-one syllable standard of the Japanese poems, to tanka in English. Around twenty-one plus/minus syllables in English produces an approximate equivalent of the essentially fragmentary tanka form, and its lightness. To achieve a “perfect twenty-one”, one could write five lines in 3/5/3/5/5 syllables. If the resulting tanka sounds natural, then that’s fine. However, the syllable counting does not need to be so rigid. Though no line should be longer than seven syllables, and one should try to maintain the short/long/short/long/long rhythm, variations such as 2/4/3/5/5 or 4/6/3/6/7 or 3/6/4/5/6 syllable patterns can all make good tanka.
Kelly also did a series of posts about tanka and I found this one, How the parts of tanka relate to one another, also a good reference.

Ultimately, I tried to focus on short/long/short/long/long as opposed to strictly 5/7/5/7/7. I'm not sure I've done justice to the challenge, but I'll let you be the judge. Here are a few of the poems I wrote and the poems that inspired them.

Sara wrote a poem entitled I cannot. Here's the poem it inspired.

If you can boil
water, you can poach an egg
don't dream of omelettes
instead take joy in wheat toast
bathed in a lava-like flow

Andi wrote a poem entitled Living in the Space Between. Here's the poem it inspired about my parents.

from blind date to love
a lifetime together
years of highs, lows, in-betweens
sweet memories, no regrets

Laura wrote a poem entitled First Snow. Here's the poem it inspired. (I borrowed a phrase of hers for this one.)

welcoming winter
sisters make snow angels
freezing together
best yearly tradition
despite our age, nothing's changed

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

That's probably enough for today. I'll share the remaining tanka written to poems by the rest of the gang in the week to come.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month our challenge is a Wordplay Poem, as invented by Nikki Grimes. You can read Nikki’s description at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog in a post entitled Spotlight on Nikki Grimes and DMC Challenge. You've got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with us on October 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by our poetry sister Laura Purdie Salas. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Poetry Friday is Here!

Hello all. I've been away for a while, so I'm happy to be back and hosting this week. I lost my mother on June 30th and am still mourning her. I feel adrift, or perhaps untethered is a better word. I've had a hard time writing, starting many poems but finding myself unable to follow through and finish them. I have, however, been reading and reflecting.

Today I'd like to share a poem by Barbara Crooker. 

is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I'm not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I'm going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'm rounding things up old school today, so please leave your link in the comments and I'll add you to the post throughout the day. Happy poetry Friday all.


Linda Mitchell of A Word Edgewise shares the poem The Office Building by Helen Hoyt.

Jama Rattigan is back from her summer blog break and is sharing Mary Oliver's dog poems.

Michelle Kogan shares an original poem entitled Winged Harvest-Eating.

Matt Forrest Essenwine shares an original poem about food at the fair.

Jone MacCulloch shares a photo accompanied by an original poem and a reminder

Robyn Hood Black shares an original poem, a poetic excerpt by Shelley, and a 9-11 remembrance.

Linda Baie of Teacher Dance shares a book review and an original poem for 9-11.

At Gathering Books, Myra is sharing the poem A New Language by Casandra Lopez.

Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core shares the poem The Web by Alison Hawthorne Deming.

Becky Herzog of Sloth Reads shares a number of original poems written for her Poemtember poetry list.

Alan Wright of Poetry Pizzazz is playing with form and shares an original rondelet.

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link shares original poems on 9-11.

Kat Apel shares the poem Farewell Town by Fan Yun and an original poem she wrote in Chines. (Don't worry, it's translated!)  

At Unexpected Intersections, Elisabeth Norton shares her poetic thoughts on history and timelines.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm shares an original poem entitled Make a Line.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-foresaken town shares Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare.

At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon shares an original poem entitled My Favorite Things.

Janice Scully of Salt City Verse shares information on the Carnegie Library and an original poem entitled If Not For the Library and Books.

Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti shares information about the book The Best American Poetry 2021, which comes out at the end of September.

Mary Lee Hahn of A(nother) Year of Reading shares an original sonnet entitled Summer's End.

Karen Edmisten shares the poem Ode to Teachers by Pat Mora.

At The Apples in My Orchard, Carol shares an original poem entitled Goldenrod Prairie Walk.

Joann Early Macken shares an original chimney swift haiku and a video she filmed of a bird cloud funneling into a chimney.

Denise Krebs of Dare to Care shares two original poems about faith in dark times.

Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe is sharing an original poem entitled Back to School.