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TANKA TAKE HOME: 20th December 2023 - Know Your Editors

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

featured editor: Suraja Menon Roychowdhury December 20, 2023

This month we decided to go with the theme "Know Your Editors": The people responsible for your poems being published. We hope you enjoy their poems and a little about them and their 'tanka journey'. This week we have Suraja Menon Roychowdhury. SMR is fun to be around. I enjoy her wit and humour immensely. Most of all she has a beautiful way with words as you'll witness when you read her tanka and tanka-prose. Here's her "Tanka Journey" in her own words followed by some of her poems she likes:

SMR: I was introduced to tanka about 12 years ago on (AP), a site that has an active group of poets who are focused on Oriental poetic forms including haiku and tanka.  Diane Hemingway, the dean of the poetry school at AP ran a tanka contest. I wrote my first tanka based on her directions, and after reading the articles on, a wonderful site that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore. I then took the Introduction to Tanka course taught by Andrew Hide, an amazing tanka poet, and was hooked. Over the years I have interacted with many excellent and knowledgeable poets within that group, and was quite satisfied with sharing my poetry and getting some very helpful critiques there. I also started reading more widely, especially the translations of the Man'yōshū, and other classic poets such as Ono no Komachi, Izumi Shikibu and Ryokan.  The tanka form, with the upper verse, the bridge, the lower verse, the inner and outer reflections constantly amazes me with the breadth and depth that it can evoke in 5 lines, under 31 syllables ...

I had never thought of submitting anything for publication, but a couple of poets on the site encouraged me to try. I think my first published tanka was in Blithe Spirits in 2018. I admire the poets who publish widely- I never seem to find the time to submit! Anyway, I slowly started sending in tanka and tanka prose and getting published in Oriental Poetry anthologies, CHO, Presence, Drifting Sands, Ribbons etc.


I think it was during the pandemic that I started interacting with Kala, and Triveni. My tanka journey took a leap in 2022 when Kala invited me to be a part of the editorial team on Tanka Take Home alongside her, Firdaus and Priti. I also placed 3rd in the Tanka Society of America's Sanford Goldstein contest, which was a huge honor. Here at TTH, I, as the rest of us, have had the pleasure and honor of interacting with wonderful and experienced tanka poets, as well as my wonderful co-editors. I look forward to continuing this journey, and want to thank Firdaus for creating this opportunity to share my tanka tales 🙂.


in watercolor as I paint

a tree

breezes drawing fragrance

from the taproot of my family

Ribbons 2023 Dec

Om Shanti

I went to the temple this evening. Not because I was suddenly infused with the need for spirituality, but because I heard that the food in the canteen is pretty good. An authentic South Indian meal isn't that easy to come by in this town...

Hindu temples are like extensions of home. There are several deities, ensuring that everyone can find their dearest representation of the Almighty. People carry on conversations, kids run around, all while the priest chants the evening prayer and someone rings the bell continuously. The air is filled with the scents of incense and flowers - roses, jasmine, marigolds. Interspersed with the scents from the kitchen downstairs. My smile is automatic, instinctive. Several people smile back.


for the meaning of life

I look up...

the stars fade in the glow

of a golden blue moon

Ribbons Dec 2023

too cold now                                      

for the tomato to ripen              

this autumn

I remember the stories

that never did come to be

Ribbons Dec 2023

he wraps me

in a paisley pashmina

caressing my smile

his words of admiration

for the fine embroidery

Presence vol 76, 2023

fifty ways

I tried to get rid of you


harder I blow you off

the more often we meet

Failed Haiku May 2023

In My Bones...

It is the one I never knew who fills my mind today. There is only one faded black and white photo of her and my grandfather, both looking stern and unremarkable. But I hear that she was a beauty. That they shared a deep love, and had many children... I haven't heard many stories about her. In fact, I wonder if there's anyone alive today who knew her- she died so long ago.

how strange

this notknowing of someone

within me

all the dreams I fulfilled

were they yours?

Drifting Sands 21, 2023

and finally

when it's her time

she finds

she cannot anymore...

autumn wind

Presence # 75, 2023

Invisible Threads

Fingerling potatoes in three different colors — golden, pale brown, and purple. I lug my bags of groceries to the car parked in the furthest spot possible in a vain attempt to atone for the lack of exercise all winter. It's April, and I'm shivering slightly in my sleeveless top. I'm hopeful, but who are we kidding; this is New England, and it's still chilly.

In my warm kitchen, the lull before dinner . . .

steamed beets

shedding their skin smoothly

in my hands

my grandma's recipe card

written in her hand


perennial garden - 

this long line

of women that stops 

at grandmother

in my memories

Ribbons Winter 2023

red lipstick

and bronze eye shadow

at the party

still stealing the show

a single dahlia

Moonbathing 27, 2022

looking through

old photos and letters

reading history

screaming louder than words

               the silences

Ribbons Winter 2022

The Meaning of Things

Evening falls sooner now. The light is gentler, the harsh edge of sunlight softened by the stirring breezes.  There is an air of completion.  The flowers are done blooming. The trees are done being green, although they haven't started turning orange or yellow or red. The rhythm of life, that was suspended by the fierce gaiety and sun worshipping of the northern hemispheres, has resumed. School buses clog the streets in the mornings and afternoons. I slice the first of the pumpkins and make a stirfry. Adding spices, automatically almost, checking for the salt, and waiting. Waiting for something. The old restlessness. An emptiness that has no reason, no name, just a space.    

come love

let's walk together

like strangers now

the green of spring

and the dried stalks of summer

CHO Aug 2020; first published.  Oriental Prism 2, Yellow Moon Poets ( Publisher, City, State: 2018) Diane Hemingway, ed. 

how rare...the miracle 

of finding each other

in this vastness

even the blue moon hangs low

for all the world to see

Oriental Poetry 2019, Yellow Moon Poets; Diane Hemingway, ed. 


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!

Please also, in case of tanka-art, tell us if it's your own picture or someone else's. We will be unable to accept it otherwise.


The challenge for this week:

Wow! What a feast of poetry. Suraja, when she gets a breather from being on the judging panel for film festivals, really has a flair with the pen. I'm a little mesmerised especially with "The Meaning of Things" and I invite you to write your poems while I quote SMR's tanka "come love, let's walk together like strangers now... the green of spring and the dried stalks of summer", what better invitation could there be. This week write about two seasons, bring them together as a contrast or comparison. Interpret it as you like. You can always write outside this challenge. Mostly 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. <> <>

1,045 views476 comments


Have a backlog in reading. What a lovely and poignant chain of yours Suraja 💗happy to read about your journey. Each tanka so refreshing exuding wisdom🌹


#2 feedback welcome

29th December 2023

climbing hills

to reach pearl-white clouds


the heaviness of a hip joint

as nights grow longer...

Amoolya Kamalnath



Biswajit Mishra
Biswajit Mishra
Dec 27, 2023

#1 tanka prose

Daylight saving

From the sidewalk, I see the leaves gathered up around trees in the front yard of the senior centre. Purple and yellow spread behind the railings of the fence and I wonder to myself at the absurdity of fallen leaves being trapped. The days are already getting shorter, and I must’ve been late in my walk.

I take out my phone and click a few pictures.

my wife keeps

growing her donation bag…

I tell her

about my vow to stop

buying new clothes

Biswajit Mishra

Calgary Canada

Appreciate feedback


Unknown member
Dec 27, 2023

Suraja, I have known you as a library. I enjoyed reading your every book on this page. Thank you for sharing them :)

Replying to

Thank you so much Amrutha - what a nice thing to say 💓.


marilyn ashbaugh
marilyn ashbaugh
Dec 27, 2023


I am late to the feast of your beautiful tanka collection. Many thanks for sharing them here. ❤️

Replying to

So glad you stopped by and read them, Marilyn. Thanks very much!

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