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TANKA TAKE HOME - 23rd November 2022 | poet of the month - Tish Davis

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Tish Davis

23rd November

Tish Davis / Tanka Prose

Riding Bareback



cowboys hiding

behind the hedgerow

the giveaway scent

from a rapidly fired red roll


in rolls for repeating


the white gate

swings open

We chase our boy cousins. They run back into the house and upstairs to their room. After threading a bedspread through the rail of the top bunk, they drop behind the lookout and keep their cap guns low. We Indian girls, wearing real feather headbands handmade by our aunt, reload behind a closet door.


Where we live now, the beds don’t bunk. At Grandmother’s house, NO GUNS ALLOWED.

redirecting the moon

that black stallion

on her polished table

raising itself up

on its hind legs

The hands on the mantle clock are not yet in their morning place; even the feathers in our headbands must be still.

pinching the blinds—

only a moth


the yellow bare bulb

over her back porch

My sister and I take turns running our fingertips along our secret strip of red caps. Behind what shadowed hill is the villain hiding? Under whose side of the bed? On what kind of horse will our hero show?

Skylark: Summer 2017, issue 5:1


Tish has most gracefully answered all our questions.

4th Q:

TTH: Who are your favourite tanka poets?

Mokichi Saitō; Sanford Goldstein; Michael McClintock; Dennis Garrison. I also enjoy reading the works of Jeffrey Woodward and M. Kei. That reading includes their contributions in the form of critical essays, interviews, and commentaries. I’m sure I’ve read Claire Everett’s “Tanka Prose, Tanka Tradition: An Interview with Jeffrey Woodward” first published in Atlas Poetica, at least fifty times. I learn something new with every read and that interview motivated me to purchase A Waka Anthology, Volume One: The Gem Glistening Cup translated by Edwin A. Cranston. I was dying to read an early tanka prose by Ōtomo no Tabito, “An Excursion to the Matsura River.”

In addition to tanka what other genres of poetry do you write or read? I enjoy reading poems from the Tang and Song Dynasties, and especially enjoy Wang Wei. I still read an old favorite: Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. I am very fond of Shakespeare’s sonnets and one New Year made a resolution to memorize my favorite ones. I also occasionally write poems in free verse.

Tell us about some of the books you've enjoyed. Regarding tanka: My absolute favorite: Red Lights by Mokichi Saitō translated from Japanese by Seishi Shinoda and Sanford Goldstein. (I keep it on my nightstand.) Also on my list, are As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams by Lady Sarashina; The Ink Dark Moon, Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikubu translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani; and Tanka Left Behind by Sanford Goldstein. Regarding books in general: Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse; Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham; and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett and a new discovery – The Cave of the Yellow Dog by Byambasuren Davva and Lisa Reisch. It’s a “Mongolian Journey” which includes snippets of Mongolian poetry and folk songs

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: I would like to give you catchwords as prompts:

bunkbeds days spent with grandparents siblings the imaginary villain ***

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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