Somonka: Poetic Forms

The somonka is a Japanese form. In fact, it’s basically two tankas written as two love letters to each other (one tanka per love letter). This form usually demands two authors, but it is possible to have a poet take on two personas. Click here for a refresher on the tanka.

Here’s an example somonka:

“Sugar,” by Robert Lee Brewer

I’m waiting to die;
I think it will happen soon–
this morning, I saw
two bright hummingbirds battling
over some sugar water.

I know; I was there.
I chased after them for you
until thirst stopped me.
Fetch me some water. I have
a little sugar for you.


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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and a relaxed watcher of birds. Press 53 recently published his debut, full-length collection of poems, Solving the World’s Problems (read a review). He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). While he’s partial to cardinals, Robert likes all manner of birds–and the trees in which they nest. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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160 thoughts on “Somonka: Poetic Forms

  1. Sara McNulty


    Hey baby, let’s go
    for a walk on the wild side.
    Honey, life is short.
    I am not educated,
    but I can teach you wild love.

    What can you teach me?
    How to live poor and die poor?
    I lived impoverished,
    saw how short that life can be.
    Strive for something, then call me.



    This is a bold step
    I take, writing a letter
    to you, shy sweet boy.
    Hope I am not mistaken
    about covert looks exchanged.

    Had I been as bold,
    I’d have approached you by now.
    There is no mistake.
    Let us meet at the theater,
    create our own love story.


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