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TANKA TAKE HOME: 27th September 2023 Kathy Kituai - 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: Kathy Kituai

Kathy Kituai, thanks a million for sharing your poetry and thoughts this month. This is going to be a rich experience for all our members.

Biography: Kathy Kituai has published a four-part radio documentary for NBC, seven poetry collections, five anthologies, a children’s picture book, and received two Canberra Critic Awards for her teaching in Scotland, South Australia, New South Wales, and the ACT since 1990, and foundered and facilitated Limestone Tanka Poets (2011 – 2021). She has also been a tanka editor for Cattails, creative editor for Muse magazine (twice) and assistant editor for the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, her poetry has been published in Japan, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia and has won international awards. Her last tanka collection, Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls, won the 2016 ACT Writing and Publisher Award. She has co-judged poetry competitions, including two for Manning Clark House (Canberra, ACT) and the 2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Competition.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ September 27, 2023

It was so lovely to feature Kathy this month. We thank her for her time and thoughtful answers to our questions and her beautiful poems. And now, Kathy's response to our last question.

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?

I didn’t show my work to anyone for years. However, now I keep things close to my chest only until I reach the completion of my own thoughts and am ready to consider other perspectives.

We seldom excel on our own. I am grateful for what I have learnt from Beverley George, David Terelinck, Carmel Summers, Hazel Hall, and participants in my creative writing courses.

I foster positive responses (not reactions) to poetry in my creative writing courses, encourage the poet to take notes on what is said, not engage in the discussion (a tip gained from Rebecca McClanahan, Word Painting) and leave room afterwards for them to ask questions. That way concentration is on the poem itself.

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Sultana Cake

Grapes are ripening on the vine quite naturally … late summer sun flashes fruit into amber beads. You pick each sugar-sweetened jewel after arriving home from school, savour them before entering the house. It helps those afternoons mother, still dressed in nightwear, is slumped among cornflakes, and burnt toast, empty beer bottles burgeoning between each bowl. She is not the woman who kissed you goodnight, a spray of violets pinned to the shoulder of a Cinderella gown. These afternoons are heelless as down-trodden shoes.

The days in which shouting door-slamming and name-calling has ceased and the house is clean and tidy, you come across her breaking eggs on the lip of a white ceramic bowl before folding them into creamed butter and sugar. It doesn’t take much to curdle the mixture, but her touch is light.

It’s her birthday today. You’re making her recipe for sultana cake, checking to see if milk is at the right temperature and juice is squeezed from lemons fresh from the tree. You want to remember the way her face softened by the time she folded in the flour and spoke with the voice of a summer breeze to you, a little girl who drew up a chair beside her. Oh! the solace just knowing it would be at least two weeks before mother, again in a dressing gown, would slouch over the breakfast table. Now you can lick the bowl and not hide under the bed.

should I pick

over sultanas

the way I do

days of my childhood,

discard the shriveled ones

The Art of Catching Jam Before it Burns, New and selected collection, due out 2024 <>

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:   Such sweet and sad memories of childhood weaved together in this beautiful tank-prose by Kathy. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions, really took me there. I hope it inspires you to write your poems this week. There isn't any challenge this time. I'll leave you to write whatever this tanka-prose ignites in you. 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. <> <>

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