TANKA TAKE HOME - 3 August, 2022 Featured book: The Ink Dark Moon

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

book of the month: The Ink Dark Moon – Love Poems by Ono no Komachi & Izumi Shikibu

Mono o koso / iwane no matsu mo / omou rame / chiyo huru sue mo / katabuki ni keri

This pine tree by the rock

must have its memories too:

after a thousand years,

see how its branches

lean towards the ground.

— Ono no Komachi

"How delicately, in describing an ancient, bowed-down pine, Komachi offers this self-portrait of old age; only the single word mo (“too”) directs the reader to the poem’s subjective aspect. Or, from a different perspective, one can admire this poem as a demonstration of the way long suffering can bring up a deeply Buddhist empathy with the suffering of all beings, even trees; considered this way, the poem’s movement is from the inner world to the outer, from the personal to the universal."

“...Ono no Komachi, in particular, became the subject of legend almost from the time of her death. Little is known about her life, and the stories about her freely commingle historic fact and suppositions drawn from the poems...”

—The Ink Dark Moon - Love poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. Women of ancient Court of Japan.

Translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani.

(This book has the English translation of poems by two great Japanese women tanka poets, Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. It also has the original Japanese versions and if you're interested in learning more about tanka, we highly recommend this book.)

Challenge for this week:

Read Komachi's tanka, write what her poem inspires in you. Is it empathy or self-reflection?And remember - tanka, because of those two extra lines, lends itself most beautifully when revealing a story.

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


1. Post only one poem at a time.

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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