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TANKA TAKE HOME: 18th 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 18, 2023

I wish it was a trick

because it wasn’t a treat –

the texts

from my sister’s husband

hitting on me

Scryptic Halloween Contest Third Place 2017

putting on

my stained apron –


did my happiness

stop mattering

BHS Awards tanka section First Place 2017

each migraine

a T-rex chasing me

through my day

I feel lucky

if he only takes a bite

Ribbons Fall 2018

weird pains

in my shoulder blades

how disappointing

I’m not growing


BHS Awards tanka section Runner Up 2022

this pandemic

has taken so much

from us

our mixing bowl lives

reduced to thimbles

Fleeting Words Tanka Contest Second Place 2020

3 AM

I wake up from a deep sleep convinced there are aliens in my room. I grab my husband and look around but there’s no one there. Not a sound, not even a movement. I start to calm down until I realize it could all be an illusion that I’m safe at home in bed, when really I’m on a spaceship, maybe even a jail cell.

the pitying looks

of the other aliens

when I pull down

my pants and pee,

in front of everyone

Failed Haiku 2020

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 fourth with some great advice:


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?

Susan: Less is more. Think about economy of words and saying what you want to say in the simplest terms possible. Be unique. Write about the funny or weird things that happen to you. Put yourself out there. And make sure you say something in your poem. You can have dreaming room but don’t be so vague that no one knows what you’re talking about. Also, avoid I remember (because you’re the only one who remembers), I wish, and I wonder if possible. If you do use them, use them sparingly and only if you can think of no other way to say it. Also, look at your line breaks. Read your poems aloud and write them the way you want them to be read.

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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:   Susan's poems, though laced with humour, are sometimes hard-hitting. She doesn't shy away from vulnerability; at least on paper. And it's easy to relate to what she writes. The poems I've shared are a mixed bag of emotions. Things we keep under wraps. Made me chuckle and wince. What are you afraid of? That's your challenge for the week. And as always, you can write outside the prompt too. 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. <> <>

584 views185 comments


joanna ashwell
joanna ashwell

walking amongst the gold

of autumn leaves and sun

I almost forget

the absence of you

falling as rain

Joanna Ashwell


Feedback welcome

joanna ashwell
joanna ashwell

Thank you Barbara.


mona bedi
mona bedi

Tanka art



over life’s meaning…

the garden Buddha

and I meditate

on birdsong

Feedback appreciated:)

Mona Bedi


mona bedi
mona bedi

Thanks 😊


Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak

Love it💗


Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak


autumn parade

among the trees

a colour contest

mirror mirror on the wall

I see beauty in one and all

barbara olmtak, the Netherlands, October 24 th,2023

Feedback welcome 🙏

Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak

Thank you so much Bonnie🌹❣️


Barbara  Olmtak
Barbara Olmtak

Thank you Firdaus for the beautiful highlight of Susan. Poignant. Congratulations Susan on your beautiful chain of precious tanka🌹

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