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TANKA TAKE HOME: 10th July 2024 - Jenny Ward Angyal- poet of the month

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


Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!


July 10, 2024


poet of the month: Jenny Ward Angyal

the gold flash

of a flicker’s wing

in gray rain

I glimpse another world

inside this one

~red lights 9:1, Jan. 2013

We had the pleasure of asking Jenny a few questions, and she graciously took the time to answer them. Here are the first two:

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

No, I don’t come from a literary background, although I think the impulse to create things is in my family. My father was a skilled craftsman working in wood; my grandfather was a professional artist and illustrator; my aunt was an amateur painter; and my mother loved books and poetry. She recited poems and read to me from the time I was very young.

my mother’s voice

reciting The Highwayman

by moonlight

the gleam of a dark red love-knot,

the clatter of galloping years

~Moonlight on Water, 2016

As a child I read pretty much anything I could lay my hands on, from Lewis Carroll to Thomas Hardy. James Stephens’ The Crock of Gold was an all-time favorite. Poetry included Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings . . .

I composed my own first poem before I learned to print, so I dictated it to my older brother. I still have it somewhere, penciled on brown paper.

at age five

my first poem, an ode

to lampshades—

trying ever since to grasp

the nuances of light

~A Hundred Gourds 3:2, March 2014

2. 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?

I continued to write poetry, or try to, throughout high school and college. But after that, family and careers intervened and I wrote only sporadically until I retired. Then I returned to writing poetry, mostly free verse, but I also experimented with forms--sestina, sonnet, villanelle, ghazal, even a few haiku. I published a handful of poems and won a couple of awards from my state poetry society. Although I intuitively understood the benefits of having a flexible form to push against, I did not discover ‘my’ form until I stumbled upon tanka. For that, I thank Jane Reichhold. I had never heard of tanka until I read her little book, Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide. Immediately I thought, I could do that.

Five lines give the poet just enough room to explore how the subjective inner landscape of human feeling is connected to the external world of objects and events, and yet tanka’s compression forces one to focus on essentials. And I find that simple, concrete images laid down side-by-side transmogrify into metaphor as if by magic, like an image coming clear in the rippled surface of a pool.


into a world new-made

I search

for the shape of my face

in a pool of dreams

~from ‘Lost,’ a tanka sequence

Only the Dance, 2021

I continue to write tanka because it is my way of exploring the world I live in and trying to make sense of it. It also provides me with an irreplaceable sense of community through my connections with poets across the planet.

About Jenny:

Jenny Ward Angyal spent her childhood wandering the woods and fields of rural Connecticut, where she attended a one-room schoolhouse and composed her first poem at the age of five. She spent many years studying and writing about biology, and many more teaching nonverbal children how to communicate. She now lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in central North Carolina. She has two sons and three grandchildren.

Jenny has written tanka since 2008. Her tanka, haiku, tanka-prose and haibun have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She is the author of five tanka collections: Moonlight on Water, Only the Dance, Earthbound, The Wind Harp, and Spellbound. She is also co-author (with Joy McCall & Claire Everett) of Beetles & Stars: Tanka Triptychs.  All her books are available on Amazon.

Jenny co-edited (with Susan Constable) the Tanka Society of America’s 2016 Members’ Anthology, Ripples in the Sand. She served for over five years as Reviews and Features Editor of Skylark: A Tanka Journal and for two years as Tanka Editor of Under the Bashō. She is currently a Global Moderator of Inkstone Poetry Forum.


Prompt for this week:

Jenny's tanka makes me want to pick up my pen and start looking for that elusive poem right on the brink of my mind, just waiting to be explored. How do they make you feel? Are you inspired? Tell us about it. Your prompt for the week is FINDING. Interpret it as you want. Mostly, have fun! (How many of you had to learn 'The Highwayman' by heart?)

Important: Since we're swamped with submissions, and our editors are only human, mistakes can happen. Please, please, remember to put your name, followed by your country, below each poem, even after revisions. It really helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!




And remember – tanka, because of those two extra lines, lends itself most beautifully when revealing a story. And tanka prose is storytelling.


Give these ideas 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 these themes too.


An essay on how to write tanka: Tanka Flights here



1. Post only one poem at a time, only one per day.

2. Only 2 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 250 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly magazine.


Please check out the LEARNING Archives.

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Jul 16


a bat


in my living room

temporary lights

awaiting endless darkness 

Dipankar Dasgupta India

(Feedback welcome.)




somewhere close

worlds whisper for pen and ink

a phone ping creeps in

and tall tales whet my appetite

for a mountain peak



Alfred Booth

Lyon, France

(feedback welcome)

Replying to

Beautiful Alfred, I love your line 'worlds whisper for pen and ink' - wonderful imagery.


#2 16/7/24

morning walk

each step away

from yesterday's noise

blossoming bluebells

map my path

Nalini Shetty


Feedback welcome

Replying to

Thank you Joanna....I just noticed bluebells is one word...edited mine


I’m really drawn to “At age five.” What great inspiration. Thank you Jenny Ward Angyal.




(getting a late start!)

in mountain darkness

I can’t find the bedroom door

waking in a sweat

visions hum “there is nothing

beyond fear”



Alfred Booth

Lyon, France

(feedback welcome)

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