#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!

Published by Colleen M. Chesebro

An avid reader, Colleen M. Chesebro rekindled her love of writing poetry after years spent working in the accounting industry. These days, she loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. In addition to poetry books, Chesebro’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of her writing community on Word Craft Poetry.com by organizing and sponsoring a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, where participants experiment with traditional and current forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry. Chesebro is an assistant editor of The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology & Gitty Up Press, a micro-press founded by Charli Mills and Carrot Ranch. In January 2022, Colleen founded Unicorn Cats Publishing Services to assist poets and authors in creating eBooks and print books for publication. In addition, she creates affordable book covers for Kindle and print books. Chesebro lives in the house of her dreams in mid-Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes with her husband and two (unicorn) cats, Chloe & Sophie.

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

    1. Hey, Yve, I visited, but the page is empty. Did something happen? Headsup, my sweet. I will return to read at a different time. Be well. xoxo


  1. 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. 💜💜


    1. 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. ❤


  2. 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)


    1. 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. 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*


  4. 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


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