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TANKA TAKE HOME – 22nd February 2023 | poet of the month – David Terelinck

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: David Terelinck

22nd February

David Terelinck/Tanka

sudden crack

as a bunya pine cone

splits open—

no way to prepare

for that kind of news

[Aya Yukhi Certificate of Merit, 7th International Tanka festival, Shonan, Japan, 2012]

prawn boats

tethered to creaking wharves

by winter mist—

you said you never wanted

to be on life support

[Fire Pearls 2: Short Masterpieces of Love & Passion, 2013]

We are deeply grateful to David Terelinck for taking the time to answer our questions.

Q 6: TTH: Do you show your work in progress to anyone, or is it a solitary art that you keep close to your chest before letting it go for publishing?

DT: Whilst tanka is a solitary art to a significant degree, there is always great value in workshopping poetry.

All of my tanka begin life with just myself and the muse. And I spend time shaping the poem and crafting it for either competition or publication. These days I spend far less time sharing my work in progress than when I started out on my journey. That is because as one builds their confidence as a poet, they need less support in terms of structure and the basic toolbox of tanka.

However, at the start of my journey I shared and workshopped a lot of my tanka. I needed that sage advice from mentors and others about how to improve my work. I think workshopping is key part of the learning process and developing as a nascent poet in any genre. I am thankful for all the time others spent reading and workshopping my poems and helping me become the poet I am today. And whilst I do not share as much work in progress now, I am always cognisant of how important it can be to have another opinion. There is value in a different set of eyes to show you things you may have overlooked if you are too close to the poem and the subject matter.

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 second tanka is brilliantly crafted and very poignant. Its mood of gentle and restrained sadness leaves a profound impression on the reader. In the lower verse we are told of a loved one ‘who never/ wanted to be on life support’. And the poet/narrator prepares us for this through the image of 'prawn boats/ tethered to creaking wharves/ by winter mist–--'

Notice that the prawn boats are not anchored but ‘tethered’, the wharves are not sturdy but ‘creaking’ and it is not spring or summer but ‘winter’ and the ‘winter mist’ shrouds everything in gloom.

We invite you to write about a piece of news that caught you unawares. Keep the poet’s singular image in the first tanka as your inspiration: 'sudden crack/as a bunya pine cone/splits open'.

Or, be inspired by the second tanka’s freshness of imagery and poignancy.


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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