#TankaTuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 269, 4/12/22, #Colleen’s SpecificForm:TankaProse


This week’s form:

Tanka Prose

Here’s how to write tanka prose:

TANKA PROSE: We write Tanka prose from the first person point-of-view. The prose paragraph(s) must also seek to be, if not poetic, at least something that grabs our attention. It must compete with the verse in its style, intending to be inventive and expressive all on its own.

The tanka portion is 5-7-5-7-7, or short, long, short, long, long. There are many tanka prose combinations, such as Idyll: (One prose paragraph and one tanka) tanka/prose, or prose/tanka; Verse Envelope: tanka/prose/tanka; Prose Envelope: prose/tanka/prose, including alternating prose and verse elements of your choice.

Don’t forget the style of the prose paragraph. You choose the preface, or the poem tale to style your poem.

The Preface (explanation): This is where the prose paragraph is narrow, concerned with only providing the reader a factual summary of the basic information including the time and place, the name of a person, or a public occasion as the reason for writing on the set topic. A tanka follows the prose. Or you can write your tanka as the preface, and your prose reflects on the tanka.

Poem Tale (episodic narration): gives way to a subjective and more expressive interpretation of the scene or event the poet is writing about. It gives the poet the opportunity to share intimate details or thoughts with their reader. A poem tale can be a mini short story or even a biography. Remember to include a beginning, middle, and ending.

The following example is tanka prose (prose envelope) written in the poem tale (episodic narration) style:

“The Russian Spring”

The great Rus, a land once dominated by Tsar’s, dictators, communists, and now, by a cruel despot who longs for the glory days of the USSR. Putin’s mission is clear—he aims to reclaim all the territory that once made up the Russian empire. To prevent the Russian state from collapsing, he must halt the eastward spread of these treacherous, subversive ideas—by crushing them in Ukraine. Even if those ideas are figments of his imagination…

springtime in Russia 
the peasants dance in the streets 
attempt to forget 
the horrors of death and war 
honor the spring equinox 

Putin, the autocrat, rules the people. He tells them what to think… “Remember Siberia,” they cry in hushed tones.

“The more restrictive a regime becomes, the more paranoid a leader grows because the people don’t understand what is happening in society,” whispers the shadows of the past… “Remember Stalin…” they mutter in small voices.

old memories fade—
Putin sits on a gold throne
his puppets perform
women and their children sing
while the men perish in war

© Colleen M. Chesebro

Write your tanka prose in either the Poem Tale or Preface style in whatever feels the most natural to you.

Read more about how to compose TANKA PROSE

While you’re visiting, check out the tanka contest sponsored by the Tanka Society of America:

2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest Guidelines


Here are some sites that will help you write your poetry and count syllables:

Not sure how to write syllabic poetry?

READ THIS FIRST: How to craft Syllabic Poetry

Tanka Tuesday Cheat Sheet






Word Craft: Prose & Poetry – The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry


  • Create your tanka prose and teach us how to write the style you chose. Try not to use “ing” ending words to satisfy the word count.
  • Post it on your blog. Include a link back to the challenge in your post. (copy the URL: https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Copy your link into the Mr. Linky below (underlined with a hyperlink). You might have to delete your previous entry.
  • Please click the small checkbox on Mr. Linky about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work.

The screenshot below shows what Mr. Linky looks like inside. Add your name, and the URL of your post. Click the box about the privacy policy (It’s blue). As everyone adds their links to Mr. Linky, you can view the other submissions by clicking on the Mr. Linky link on the challenge post. All the links will show in the order of posting.

Follow the schedule listed below:

Now, have fun and write some tanka poetry!

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It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive notifications of the #TankaTuesday Poetry Challenges, examples of syllabic poetry, news about my poetry books, and more content in your inbox every day.

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About Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry. A published author, Colleen is also an editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse, also found on wordcraftpoetry.com. Colleen’s mission is to bring the craft of writing syllabic poetry to anyone who thinks they can’t be a poet. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for the Carrot Ranch literary community at carrotranch.com. Colleen’s poetry has appeared in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures1 & 2” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read." Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House. Find Colleen at Word Craft: Prose & Poetry at wordcraftpoetry.com.
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  1. Pingback: Representatives – Reena Saxena

  2. I’m looking forward to having a go at this form! Thanks, Colleen 💕🙂

  3. Very informative, Colleen!

  4. Pingback: #NaPoWriMo: A Poem A Day – Day 12 and #TankaTuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 269 #Colleen’s #SpecificForm #TankaProse @ColleenChesebro – Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  5. Thank you for the link to the Tanka Society of America, Colleen! I look foward to spending some time on their site later.

  6. Your example was great, Colleen! I’ve written one of these before. Now, I just need something to inspire me. Lol! 🙂

  7. Pingback: #TankaTuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 269, 4/12/22, #Colleen’s SpecificForm:TankaProse. | willowdot21

  8. I hope I have got the disapline correct, I do love to be stretched but I found this hard. Thank you for the clear introduction Colleen. 💜💜

    • Tanka prose takes a bit of practice. The Japanese forms all have specific rules to them. Remember, these forms were developed hundreds of years ago. We aspire to learn how to write the forms correctly. Most poets end up with a favorite, like me with haiku. Do the best you can. You’re probably better at tanka prose than you think you are. <3

  9. Running out to see my dad, but I will be back later to tackle the tanka! Hahahaha, I think I’m funny. 🤪

  10. Thank you, Colleen, for another great prompt. I’ve posted my poem. 💗

  11. Pingback: #TankaTuesday Challenge 269 Tanka Prose – Words and Coffee Writing

  12. I haven’t written one of these before, but I gave it a try! Your example was very helpful, and I hope I’m on the right track. 🙂

  13. What a fascinating form, Colleen, and I your example! ❤️

  14. Pingback: #TankaTuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 269 #Colleen’s SpecificForm:TankaProse #poetrycommunity #writingcommunity – Author D.L. Finn

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  16. A sad commentary on world events Colleen. It is always the ordinary people who suffer most.
    I’ve written a more optimistic poem, based of the dVerse prompt with the luminous paintings of Vika Muse. (K)

    • I used that poem in a different challenge, but it fit the bill to illustrate tanka prose (prose envelope) written in the poem tale (episodic narration) style. A few Russians commented on the piece and said it was spot on. I’m glad you found a way to bring us some sunshine. <3

  17. Hey colleen, there’s a broom sweeping on your site.😃 Here’s mine;

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  19. Spring should be a joyous time with celebrations – May we all find some peace and ways to help those in need of peace as well.

    I combined two prompts here: Dimmet*

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  22. Hi Colleen,
    It was good writing the Tanka prose and your instructions are as always so precise. my poem is @

  23. Pingback: Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge No: 269 ~ Colleen’s Specific Form: Tanka Prose – jaquintinwriter

  24. Powerful poetry Sis! I do like this ‘envelope’ style of tanka and prose! <3

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  27. I was challenged to write mine in the prose envelope– episodic narration style like in your example. My first time. Thanks for encouraging me to try. Happy Spring

  28. Pingback: Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge -#TankaProse – Verse Envelope – Seasons by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  29. Pingback: Word Craft Poetry#TankaTuesday #Poetry Stars No. 269 | #SpecificForm: tanka prose

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