Trying Tanka


I remember hearing something on NPR a few years ago about how texting had become so popular in Japan in part because tiny cell phone screens were the perfect size for holding a tanka poem, and young people all over the country were riding the trains composing tankas and texting them to their friends.  I have no idea if that was (or still is) true, but I so love the idea of it: half a country busily writing poetry at all hours of the day and night.  Excellent.  I had forgotten about tanka for a while, but then I was printing out some examples of form poems for my students (Happy Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day, everyone!) and tanka poems were mentioned in a small article I found about haiku and senryu, and there is this challenge …

A tanka is a 31-syllable, 5-line poem (5-7-5-7-7).  Generally speaking, it seems there shouldn’t be any wrapping of lines; each line should hold its own.  I found a lovely example here.  And I thought I’d try one for today.


I wrote the letter
each word holding all my fears
each pause a longing.
I understand loneliness.
But the silence drives me mad.

Check out the rest of the week-of-poems poets at Two Writing Teachers!

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