Tanka: Bigger and More Relaxed Than a Haiku

If a haiku is usually (mistakenly) thought of as a 3-line, 5-7-5 syllable poem, then the tanka would be a 5-line, 5-7-5-7-7 syllable poem. However, as with haiku, it’s better to think of a tanka as a 5-line poem with 3 short lines (lines 2, 4, 5) and 2 very short lines (lines 1 and 3).

While imagery is still important in tanka, the form is a little more conversational than haiku at times. It also allows for the use of poetic devices such as metaphor and personification (2 big haiku no-no’s).

Like haiku, tanka is a Japanese poetic form.


While I’m sure there are problems with my attempt, here is my tanka attempt, which you can use as an example of the form:

Chopin’s waltzes
turn circles in my head
for hours
as I think of her hand
turning the world inside out


Here are some other online tanka resources:

* http://www.americantanka.com/about.html

* http://www.ahapoetry.com/richtank.htm

* http://www.modernenglishtankapress.com/tankacentral/


Check out other Poetic Forms.

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

2 thoughts on “Tanka: Bigger and More Relaxed Than a Haiku

  1. Mike Bayles

    Dog and Squirrel (Revised)

    you entice in yard
    while in leash I walk your way
    I answer your call
    up a tree trunk you scold me
    desire fills my upward gaze

    again you want play
    while in leash you walk my way
    I deny your call
    up a tree trunk while you watch
    deception my play again

  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey

    Robert, thanks for this post on Tanka. It’s not as widely known a form in America as haiku, which is a shame, because I think it lends itself better to the style in which many Americans tend to write.
    My very favorite Japanese form of the moment is Haibun, though. Fun!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.