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TANKA TAKE HOME: 11th October 2023 Susan Burch - poet of the month

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Susan Burch October 11, 2023

giving me

a treadmill for Xmas –

the weight

(of the implication)

not lost on me

Gusts Spring/Summer 2018

the space in me

or the space in bed?

the cold spot

where my husband

should be

Skylark 5:2, Winter 2017

time stops

when I see you

with an alien –

I thought you said

she wasn’t pretty

Random Planets 2019


a nose hair –

this divorce

more painful

than I thought

HPNC Contest Honorable Mention 2015

We are delighted to feature Susan this month. Despite being such a private person she very graciously answered all our questions and we're grateful for her time and effort. Here's the third:

Q 3. TTH: How do you develop a tanka? Please guide us through the stages of a poem.

Susan: Most of them just come to me. I see them everywhere too. Like I’ll see a video on twitter or I’ll see something in people’s texts that I think would make a good poem. I’m always saying, you should write a poem about that. Other times I just think about how I’m feeling. I write most of my poems from my living room couch. But when they don’t come to me, I play around with the words, the images, and try to figure out what I want to say. I try not to use cliched words or images and I listen to my own voice. As far as editing, sometimes I will write several endings to the same image and still not get it right, or the reverse too. Sometimes it’s hard to find that image that works. So I’ll let it sit and either it will come to me later or it will sit for years. I have tons of unfinished (or finished but I don’t like them) poems in my files. I think that’s just part of writing. I don’t spend hours and hours trying to revise. I move on because I have lots of things to say. But every once in a while I get it right and it does feel good to say exactly what I want to say. And then when I put it out there and it resonates with others, then it really feels good. Because it is an art and sharing it with others is what makes it worthwhile.


Susan Burch began writing tanka in April 2013 after reading winning contest poems on the Tanka Society of America website. She loved the brevity of the form and submitted to Ribbons, which published her first tanka and encouraged her to keep writing. She has placed in several tanka contests since then, and is now the First Vice President of the Tanka Society of America. Her ongoing goal is to promote the tanka form and to attract new readers and writers to tanka poetry. You can buy her book "Angry Tanka" here <>

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!


The challenge for this week:   It's hard to capture the complexities of a relationship, especially, in just five lines. Susan does it so simply. Her tanka are usually laced with humour but the sting of truth is there. No flowery language, just the reality of things as she sees them, and bam they strike the heart. I hope her poems inspire you as they do me. This week's challenge is the word 'relationship'; I'll leave the interpretation to you. You can write outside the prompt as well. Have fun!


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. <> <>

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