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TANKA TAKE HOME – 15th February 2023 | poet of the month – David Terelinck

Updated: Feb 18

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: David Terelinck

15th February

David Terelinck/Tanka

the shape and feel

of a sun-ripened pear

was it simply

in small moments like this

Ruben found his muse?

[2nd place 2017 BHS Awards]

my friend recites

the daily covid stats

I reply with

seashells and starfish

found on my morning walk

[Eucalypt 29, 2020]

Our warmest thanks to David Terelinck for responding to our questions so thoughtfully and graciously.

Q 5:

TTH: Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish tanka? As an editor what are you looking for in a tanka that makes it most likely to get published?

DT: The advice I give to any tanka poets is advice that has been shared with me over the years from mentors, workshops, reading published poems, and trial and error. It includes the following:

~ Read widely of published collections and journals. To be a good poet, one must read good poetry, and lots of it.

~ Find a mentor and listen to their advice.

~ Show, don’t tell. Let the emotion be inferred, rather than stated.

~ Do not count syllables as this can slow you down on your learning pathway.

~ Read your poems aloud; you can never fool the ear.

~ Respect the history of the form, but do not be afraid to experiment as well.

~ Keep writing and keep submitting; never give up on your journey.

As an editor and judge over the years, what I look for in a tanka I would publish can be summed up as the AHA! experience. When you read a tanka that is so good it keeps calling you back, time and again. A tanka that reveals something new; a different way of seeing the experience or the world. I like tanka that speaks to me both personally and universally.

The tanka should be technically proficient with a solid structure and purposeful word usage that adds to the impact of the poem. I like tanka that is lyrical and pleasing to the ear when read aloud. Dreaming room is important to allow different readers to access the poem in their own way. Tanka should avoid cliché, or being overly sentimental. And it should be fresh and original

Biography: David Terelinck is nefarious for holding words hostage on a page until they agree to become a poem. On rare occasions, a ransom is paid in prize money.

He has published two tanka collections (Casting Shadows, 2011 and Slow growing Ivy, 2014), co-authored A Shared Umbrella with Beverley George in 2016, and has judged tanka competitions and co-edited on journals and anthologies. David’s tanka have won awards and many have been published in various journals and anthologies around the world. Currently, David is writing a lot of free verse poetry and has won an award or two, and has been published here and there, for his free verse efforts.

David loves gin & tonic and long beach and rainforest walks. David feels we need more poetry less politics, and firmly believes dolphins should be running the planet.

Challenge for this week:

The first tanka’s freshness of theme appeals to one: a creative artist’s (the creative artist may be a musician, a song-writer, a painter, a sculptor, etc.) source of inspiration may not be anything singular or extraordinary; it could very well be a string of ‘small moments’ when the experience of something is both intense and complete just like ‘the shape and feel/ of a sun-ripened pear’.

In the second tanka, the poet makes light of a serious and unsettling situation –

here, the recitation of ‘daily covid stats’ by his friend – and responds to it by speaking of moments of felt beauty: ‘seashells and starfish/ found on my morning walk’. To be aware of nature’s myriad gifts, and observe what is there around one at a certain moment, is what can save one from a downward slide into the drabness of routine and despair.

Hence, we invite you to write tanka about ‘small moments’ that have left a deep impress or helped you face a certain life situation or helped you achieve something.


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


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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