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TANKA TAKE HOME: 19th June 2024 - Sue Colpitts - poet of the month

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


Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!


June 19, 2024


poet of the month: Sue Colpitts

Biography: Sue came late to writing poetry.  While surfing the web, she read some haiku poetry, dabbled in it and became hooked.  Later she discovered tanka on the All Poetry site ( and took its tanka courses online.  The instructors and fellow poets continue to offer helpful feedback and guidance. She finds inspiration in the poetry from Inuit songs to the Hyakunin Isshu to the poems by contemporary Canadian poets, and from nature.  Her favourite tanka poets include Ono No Komachi and Michael Mclintock.  After reading a great poem like one written by an’ya, she tries different themes and ways to write a tanka.  She feels that experimenting with the form keeps her writing fresh and challenging, and needs to be emotionally inspired to write poetry. In 2011 her first haiku was published in Frogpond.  Since then she has had a variety of oriental poetry published, including haibun, tanka and rengay, in journals and anthologies as well as having haiku chosen to be displayed at the Tucson Haiku Hike and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  Once an avid country gardener, Sue now lives in a city condo. She has learned to enjoy winter again by writing about snow and not having to shovel 

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.


SC: I read a wide variety of poetry from Inuit songs to The Hyakunin Isshu to the poems by contemporary poets.  My favourite tanka poets include Ono No Komachi, an’ya and Michael Mclintock. The first book I bought on oriental poetry was “Classic Haiku- The Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki And Their Followers” edited by Tom Lowenstein.  I have used it so much it is falling apart. I enjoy rereading “The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku -Kobayashi Issa” translated by Sam Hamill. My favourite books by Canadian poets are Richard Outram’s “South of North- Images of Canada” and Charles Pachter’s & Margaret Atwood’s (yes she also writes poetry) “Illustrated Journals of Susanna Moodie”.


Two Tanka- inspired by Inuit ayaya songs

my song

is slipping

away from me

the seal that would

not surface

I seek

the caribou's


words to sing

with the drum

 From Sue: Here is some background on ayaya songs. 

Inuit poetry is deeply rooted in the landscape and lifestyle of the Arctic.  It was primarily transmitted through oral tradition. The Inuit word ‘anerca' signifies both `breath' and `poetry.'

 One type of traditional Inuit song-poetry was the ayaya song.  Ayaya is an expression of longing. Ayaya song-poems told about their daily life and were reflections upon personal experiences such as hunting, a sleeping child, etc.  They were both compelling and spare. 

They were sung and not in any special form like a tanka.

Every Inuit person had a personal song-poem, something they had memorized for feast time, a time of gathering to sing, laugh and eat.

Ayaya music was purged from the Inuit culture by Jesuit missionaries and is only now being revived through the memories of the elders.

We are deeply grateful to Sue Colpitts for sharing her beautiful poems with us.


Prompt for this week: Write about a ritual that has some meaning for you. It could be something personal, or something observed by your community.

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!




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.


Please check out the LEARNING Archives.

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394 comentarios

Post 1

first upon rising

caffeine high and steaming

past the tongue

down the throat and spreading

to waken hands, feet, and brain

Adelaide B. Shaw


comments welcomed


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thank you Susan


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Final Revision: Thanks to Adelaide!

4th of July

we picnic with Dad

in the cemetery

fried chicken and fireworks

liven up the place

Susan Beth Furst, USA


every 4th of July

we picnic with Dad

in the cemetery

fried chicken and fireworks

tend to liven the place up

Susan Beth Furst, USA

Feedback welcome

(Picnicking in cemeteries was not an uncommon practice in the 19th century and early to mid 20th century. My family often did this, of course many of the cemeteries where we lived were wooded and park like. They were very peaceful. We often visited my great grandmother's grave. No, we didn't set off fireworks :))

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Thank you Adelaide💛

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mona bedi
mona bedi
24 jun



Revised thanks to Suraja and Kala:

au revoir

My parent’s home no longer exists. In fact it disappeared the moment I stepped out of that house. I remember only a few instances when I visited the rented accommodation we called home. After dad’s passing mom shifted to a smaller house. We kept a maid for her. Very soon she started forgetting things,names and events. Her delusions were of a happy life she had once led.

Maybe we could have looked after her better if one of us three sisters hadn't married.

Maybe then she could have died peacefully.

bride’s vidaai*

throwing rice and coins

over her head

she wishes for happiness to fill

the home she leaves behind

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mona bedi
mona bedi
25 jun
Contestando a

Thanks Suraja… I shall keep this.

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a simple meal

of bread and wine

i take and eat

and drink the fruits

of Your labour

Susan Beth Furst, USA

Feedback welcome

(Holy Communion is a meal and a mystery remembering Jesus' death on the cross that saves us from our sins)

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Contestando a

Thank you💛

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#2 6-23-24

first star

I make a wish


it can't come true

still, I wish

Jennifer Gurney, US

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