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TANKA TAKE HOME - 16th November 2022 | poet of the month - Tish Davis

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Tish Davis

16th November

Tish Davis / Tanka Prose


on wooden stilts

next to Father

I’m delicately balanced

and follow in his steps

picking peaches

The sign that bears my father’s name now dangles from the weathered arm of the post at the front gate. I take the shingle down because I am his only child, and carefully wrap it in the blanket brought from home.

new line posts

and barbed wire

razor sharp

the buyer renames

our family farm


My tanka prose, “Sign” (first published in Modern Haibun and Tanka Prose, 2009) is an example of disguising one’s autobiography by utilizing research to enhance the “colors and fabric.” I wrote about this technique in my essay "Quilting Prose” first published in cho 16.2

3. TTH: How do you develop a tanka? Please guide us through the stages of a poem. It is rare for a tanka to just “appear” in my head as a final version. Usually, some event triggers its birth. I work a lot of hours in a pressure-filled environment and after work, enjoy unwinding in the solitude of the county parks and nearby woods. Sometimes the forest “speaks” to me. I’m always with some combination of our leashed dogs, so I need to remember what the woods whisper and my initial response so I can add it to the paper when I get home. Most of my tanka require multiple revisions. Some age gracefully for a few years and then I take another look. I do keep an eye on the syllable count but never let that limit me.

Bio: Tish Davis lives in Northern Ohio. Her tanka and related forms have appeared in numerous online and print publications. When she isn’t busy with work and grandchildren she enjoys exploring the local parks with her husband and three dogs.

Challenge for this week: Taking this passage from Tish's article - Quilting Prose - link is given above. The purpose of this article is not to turn writers into good liars, but to offer for consideration that one’s play-by-play autobiographical account, while meaningful to the author, isn’t always a good dance partner. When commenting on his haibun “Running with the Yaks,” cho’s former editor, Bob Lucky, notes:

. . . at some point in my haibun-writing career, I realized two things. First, as much fun as I’ve had in living, not that much of what I’ve done is terribly exciting. I get up and go to work like everyone else I know; I just do it somewhere else. Second, as I got drawn more and more into prose poetry and flash fiction, I began to understand better Amy Hempel’s line:

“I leave a lot out when I tell the truth” ~ From the story “The Harvest”

I’ve found the same thing with my tanka prose. Tanka is often referred to as a little song, and when one or more are combined with prose, the resulting composition has its own melody: not only can a writer leave out the truth or portions of it, but truth can also be rearranged or re-shaped via poetic imagination.

This would be your challenge for this week. Ponder over what is said, and give us a good tanka-prose!! ***

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 this theme too.

An essay on how to write tanka: Tanka Flights PLEASE NOTE 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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