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TANKA TAKE HOME - 1 June, 2022 | poet of the month - Ken Slaughter

hosts: Firdaus Parvez, Kala Ramesh, Priti Aisola & Suraja Menon Roychowdhury

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Ken Slaughter

pine needles

shiver in the wind

what spirit

wants to speak

through my voice

Frameless Sky 12

the morning after thunderstorms

drops of rain

on a sunlit leaf . . .

I let my anger go

A Hundred Gourds 4.1

We had the pleasure of asking Ken a few questions, and he graciously took the time to answer them. Here’re the first two.

Q1. TTH: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?

Ken: My dad worked in business, but he did like to write poetry. I do not recall reading or writing poetry as a child, though. In college, I took a lot of English courses and developed an interest in poetry. My favorite poem was The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot, and I tried to copy that style in a poem of my own. I also liked e.e. cummings and tried to copy his style in a few poems also.

Q2. TTH: How did you get started as a poet? What was it about tanka that inspired you to embrace this ancient form of poetry? In short, why do you keep writing tanka?

Ken: I wrote a lot of longer poems in my early adult life and received a lot of rejections. As time went on I focused on writing short poems.

I looked around for a short form of poetry. I tried haiku but felt too constricted by it. Once I discovered tanka I found some success. It seemed like a natural fit for me. Since I began writing tanka, I revised a lot of my earlier poems and they are much better now. I love tanka because they give me just enough room to express something meaningful. At the same time, they impose a discipline that has helped me in my other writing.

More about Ken:

Ken Slaughter is a tanka poet who also likes to write senyru. He was vice president of the Tanka Society of America for a couple of years. He won the annual TSA contest in 2015. He submits primarily to Ribbons, Gusts, Prune Juice and Failed Haiku. You will see some of Ken’s tanka here in the excellent publication HaikuKATHA. He lives in Worcester, Massachusetts with his wife, and is the proud servant of two one-eyed cats.

Are you inspired? Challenge for this week: Have you ever tried making your fifth line powerful?

Give this idea some thought and share your tanka and tanka-prose with us here. Keep your senses open, observe things that happen around you and write. You can post tanka and tanka-prose outside this theme too.


1. Post only one poem at a time.

2. Only two tanka and two tanka-prose per poet per prompt.

Tanka art of course if you want to.

3. Share your best-polished pieces.

4. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.

5. Post your final edited version on top of your original verse.

6. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems. We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished tanka and tanka-prose (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in haikuKATHA monthly magazine.

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