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TANKA TAKE HOME: 13th September 2023 Kathy Kituai - poet of the month

Updated: Sep 20

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Kathy Kituai

Kathy Kituai, thanks a million for sharing your poetry and thoughts this month. This is going to be a rich experience for all our members.

Biography: Kathy Kituai has published a four-part radio documentary for NBC, seven poetry collections, five anthologies, a children’s picture book, and received two Canberra Critic Awards for her teaching in Scotland, South Australia, New South Wales, and the ACT since 1990, and foundered and facilitated Limestone Tanka Poets (2011 – 2021). She has also been a tanka editor for Cattails, creative editor for Muse magazine (twice) and assistant editor for the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, her poetry has been published in Japan, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia and has won international awards. Her last tanka collection, Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls, won the 2016 ACT Writing and Publisher Award. She has co-judged poetry competitions, including two for Manning Clark House (Canberra, ACT) and the 2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Competition.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ September 13, 2023

And now, Kate's responses to our questions.

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

When crafting a poem, I omit adjectives and adverbs, wherever possible, experiment with line reversals and simplify it as much as possible. In the first draft I express only what resonates within. I feel the poem in the pit of my stomach. However, poetry is a partnership between poet and reader. In the last drafts I endeavour to infer what is meant at the essence of each poem (dreaming room) hopefully in a way the reader can inhabit it. I sit with the poem for some time before submitting for publication. It’s surprising how quickly errors can be identified or a better way of writing it occurs if first drafts are left in the bottom draw.

Sometimes a tanka registers perfectly in the first draft. But this is rare. 4.

TTH: Who are your favourite tanka poets? In addition to tanka what other genres of poetry do you write or read? Tell us about some of the books you've enjoyed.

If I name all my favourite poets, I may not finish this article. However, Michelle Brock, Susan Constable, Barbara Curnow, Beverley George, Clair Everett, Hazel Hall, Max Ryan, Ken Slaughter, Deborah Strange and David Terelinck are but a few on that list.

I wrote and published free verse before discovering tanka. Considering the creative freedom free verse offers in variation of metre, lineage, and rhyme, it’s surprizing that I’m addicted to the discipline of tanka. Two halves of the whole, eastern genres and western genres offer what the other can’t and keeps the balance. Given the meditative quality of Japanese genres, I become more present for hours after composing them. That’s not to say that western poetry doesn’t have this effect. It does, but not as profoundly.

I’m interested in memoir and creative none-fiction as well as poetry. Phosphorescence (on awe and wonder & things that sustain when the world goes dark) by Julia Baird, and Upstream (selected essays) by Mary Oliver hold my attention. The tanka books I return to again are written by Beverley George and David Terelinck along with Open House (free verse poetry) by David Brooks and Sun Music (New and Selected free verse) by Judith Beveridge. Word Painting (A Guide to Writing More Descriptively) by Rebecca McClanahan has permanent residence on my bedside table.

<> <> as you take

these last few breaths – Thank you

whispered in your ear

no thought in mind

you were just a cat

For Andy

Tanka Studio, Ribbons, December 2021

on the side

of the highway

a joey

ears pricked

in its mother’s pouch

Presence 2022

The challenge for this week: 

  it's all about animals and pets. Animals are unflinching and unreserved in their love for us. Sure, we feed them, pet them, play with them, and clean up after them, but they love us even if we don’t put their dinner down on time or take an extra day to clean the litter. They don't judge you. You can feed the same thing for every meal and they don't complain! Humans? Who needs them? Ready for this challenge?!


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 


Starting with our October issue (issue 24), haikuKATHA will only consider haiga and tanka-art submissions that showcase your original artwork or photos. No more using stuff from free sites or AI-generated images, because we want you to boost your creativity!

But don't worry, we're all about collaboration. Because we know not everyone can draw or take great pictures. If you team up with an artist or photographer and we accept your work for publication, both of you will get credit for the masterpiece you've created. Make sure it’s their original work as well and they are not restricted by other publications to share them.

Just remember, it's on you to get permission from the artist/photographer before posting their stuff. We won't be responsible for any copyright issues. So, please keep these changes in mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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 helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!


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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