Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #9 – THANKS & BEGINNINGS

Happy Tuesday everyone! Welcome to the TANKA CAFÉ and your weekly prompt post. Are you ready to get groovy with your poetry? Then, you’re in the right place! Pull up a chair, order some coffee or tea and let’s write some TANKA poetry.

(Please note: I changed my blog name and address to will be dropped in the next few months)

A spot of tea, anyone? Grab a cup of Joe and read what’s below…


I have received many questions about how to write a Tanka poem.

It is worth taking a moment to check the best way to create a Tanka.

Tanka poems are based on syllable structure much the same way a Haiku is written in the 5/7/5 format.

The Tanka form is easy to create: 5/7/5/7/7 and is a Haiku with two extra lines, of 7 syllables each consisting of five separate lines.

What makes a Tanka different from a Haiku is that the first 3 lines (5/7/5) are the upper phase. This upper phase is where you create an image in your reader’s mind.

The last 2 lines (7/7) of a Tanka poem are called the lower phase. Now here is where it gets interesting. The lower phase, the last two lines, should express the poet’s ideas about the image that was created in the three lines above.


Visit Jean Emrich at Quick Start Guide

Here are Jean’s instructions quoted from the site above with examples:

“1. Think of one or two simple images from a moment you have experienced and describe them in concrete terms — what you have seen, tasted, touched, smelled, or heard. Write the description in two or three lines. I will use lines from one of my own poems as an example:

an egret staring at me

me staring back

2. Reflect on how you felt or what you were thinking when you experienced this moment or perhaps later when you had time to think about it.

Regarding the moment described above, I thought about how often I have watched and photographed egrets. In fact, they even could be said to be a defining part of my life. My poetic instincts picked up on that word, “defining,” and I knew I had a clue as to what my next lines would be.

3. Describe these feelings or thoughts in the remaining two or three lines:

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment

4. Combine all five lines:

an egret staring at me

me staring back

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment

5. Consider turning the third line of your poem into a pivot line, that is, a line that refers both to the top two lines as well as to the bottom two lines, so that either way they make sense grammatically. To do that, you may have to switch lines around.

Here’s my verse with the lines reordered to create a pivoting third line:

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment

an egret staring at me

me staring back

    To test the pivot line, divide the poem into two three-liners and see if each makes sense:

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment

my life’s defining moment

an egret staring at me

me staring back

6. Think about the form or structure of your verse. In Japan, tanka is often written in one line with segments consisting of 5-7-5-7-7 sound-symbols or syllables. Some people write English tanka in five lines with 5-7-5-7-7 syllable to approximate the Japanese model. You may wish to try writing tanka in this way. But Japanese syllables are shorter than English language syllables, resulting in shorter poems even though the syllable count is the same. To approximate the Japanese model, some poets use approximately 20-22 syllables and a short-long-short-long-long structure or even just a free form structure using five lines. You may wish to experiment with all these approaches. My egret verse is free form.

7. Decide where capitalization and punctuation may be needed, if at all. Tanka verses normally are not considered full sentences, and the first word in line 1 usually is not capitalized, nor is the last line end-stopped with a period. The idea is to keep the verse open and a bit fragmented or incomplete to encourage the reader to finish the verse in his or her imagination. Internal punctuation, while adding clarification, can stop the pivot line from working both up and down. In my verse, a colon could be added without disenabling the pivot:

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment:

an egret staring at me

me staring back

I decided to use indentation instead (The final product):

wondering for years

what would be

my life’s defining moment

an egret staring at me

me staring back

A few final tips before you write your first verse:

Commentary can be separate from the concrete images or woven into them. Even though commentary is fine, it’s a good policy — as in any fine poetry — to “show rather than tell.””

Here are some great sites that will help you write your Tanka.

For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.

Find out how many syllables each word has. I use this site for all my Haiku and Tanka poems. Click on the “Poetry Workshop” tab to create your Tanka. Here are the rules for the Tanka form:

I will publish the Tanka Tuesday prompt at 12: 03 A.M. Mountain Standard Time (Denver
Time). That should give everyone time to see the prompt from around the world.


How Long Do You Have and Your Deadline: You have a week to complete the Challenge with a deadline of Monday at 12:00 P.M. (noon). This will give me a chance to add the links from everyone’s Tanka post from the previous week, on the new prompt I send out on Tuesday. I urge everyone to visit the blogs and comment on everyone’s Tanka poem.

The rules are simple.

I will give you two words that you need to use (in some form) in the writing of your Tanka.

The two words can be used in any way you would like to use them. Words have different definitions, and you can use the definitions you like. Feel free to use synonyms for the words.

LINK YOUR BLOG POST TO MINE WITH A PINGBACK. To do a Pingback: Copy the URL (the HTTP:// address of my post) for the current week’s Challenge and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of your URL of your Tanka Post in the comments of the current week’s Challenge post.

People from the challenge may visit you and comment or “like” your post. I also need at least a Pingback or a link in the comments section to know you took part and to include you in the Weekly Review section of the new prompt on Tuesday.

BE CREATIVE. Use your photos and create “Visual Tanka’s” if you wish, although it is not necessary. You can use Fotoflexer, Picmonkey, or, or any other program that you want to make your images. Click the links to go to the programs.

I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your TANKA.

You may copy the badge I have created to go with the Tanka Tuesday Challenge Post and place it in your post:

HERE’S WHO JOINED US LAST WEEK FOR OUR 7th CHALLENGE USING THE WORDS – TIME & LAUGHTER: (I hope you are visiting the other participants. We learn from each other. <3)

Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 – TIME & LAUGHTER – Colleen Chesebro ~ Fairy Whisperer | Thoughts by Mello-Elo

Time and Laughter #Tanka | Potholes in the Road of Life Archer 44 (she left this Tanka on Greg’s Post):

Tanka Time and Laughter

Was it so long ago,
when my soul was filled with joy
and love abounding;
salt tears wash away the laughter,
cruel time wreaks bitterness.

Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 Time & Laughter | Annette Rochelle Aben

Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 Time & Laughter — Annette Rochelle Aben – All About Writing

Present Darkness – Leara writes and other creative things…

Time & Laughter | thoughts and entanglements

Time & Laughter (a tanka) | Darkness of His Dreams

A poetic experiment – Art and Life

#Tanka 8 – time and laughter – ladyleemanila

Time to Laughter | imanikingblog

Lover’s Waltz | Lemon Shark Reef

Through my window – Life at 17

oak leaves turning brown | rivrvlogr

Veiled #tanka | Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo


Tanka-Time & Laughter – Mother Willow

Present Darkness – Leara Writes

Time & Laughter-A Tanka – Darkness of His Dreams

A Mythical Menagerie – She couldn’t get her blog to work but here is the Tanka:


In time, pain recedes
And never quite vanishes
But joy must survive.
Laughter is the glue that binds
All our moments into song

Through My Window – Life at 17

Everybody did a marvelous job this week!

I used Archer 44 (Norma) and Mythical Menagerie’s Tankas this week as our featured poets of the week.

Don’t forget, each week I will highlight a Tanka that moved me with the feelings that were expressed.

Happy Thanksgiving WEEK! Don’t eat too much turkey and don’t forget to write a Tanka.

Since you did so well last week, are you ready to have another go at it?

Here are the two words for this week’s challenge:


(any forms of the words AND don’t forget that you can use synonyms)

There are many different meanings to these words. Have fun and experiment.


Starting this week, I will do my Tanka poem in a separate post. So, join in and celebrate poetry! ❤

P.S. I updated the challenge number (9). Sorry for the mixup. ❤

25 thoughts on “Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #9 – THANKS & BEGINNINGS

    1. Thanks, Pat. I figured we should embrace the season and all it has to offer us. ❤


    1. LOL! Starting this week I will publish my own Tanka separately and link back to the prompt post. ❤ Thanks for joining in.


    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Viva. I know you will have a wonderful time with the family. Enjoy, sweet lady. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh dear Colleen, I’m still not sure that I have got the hang of the Pingback. I have entered the Tanka challenge for ‘Thanks and beginnings’ but I don’t know if I have actually ‘sent’ it to you.
    So sorry that I am finding this so difficult to grasp. I know that I have posted it on my own blog Norma’s Natterings free66524.wordpress so I hope that I have made it for the cut off time.
    Best wishes Norma

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I went to your blog and left you a message. Well done, Norma. I’m happy to see you here! ❤


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