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TANKA TAKE HOME: 30th August 2023 Joy McCall - 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: Joy McCall

August 30, 2023

For this last week with Joy, here are some of her amazing tanka:

from daybreak, tanka 2022 - published on Amazon 2023 -

on great wide wings

he sees the big picture

from high above

I wander the woods

cloven-hoofed on the earth

small hedge sparrow

picking in the seed heads

you know nothing

of politics, wars, religion

... I wish I was you

reading Zhuangzi

I travel back in time

two millennia

and five thousand miles

and deep inside myself


nine small stones

a turning place

a sacred point

an ancient holiness

the hymn says

'count your blessings

one by one'

to be whole, we need

to count our sorrows too

I am weary ...

he says 'sleep

and dream of colour'

I settle into brown earth

and russet fur


I look for healing

kintsugi -

but where is the gold

to fill all the cracks?

my eyes

filling with tears

catch the flight

of a dark butterfly

among the bare trees

past midnight

I should sleep

oh but ...

the wind, the owls

the little train

two decades

since last my foot

touched the earth

yet I feel the soil,

the stones, the bones

I long

for a hermitage

in far mountains

with the cry of the deer

and the wind in the pines

I grow older

on the surface

and yet

within me, a child sings

a girl dances

dandelion seed heads

drifting on the breeze

please carry

these sorrows

away with you

when things are empty

and we refill them

that's restoring -

water bowls, bread bins

hearts and souls

'the cradle

for the body is nature'

said Susumo ...

I settle to sleep in

hawkweed and feathers

We are delighted to share Joy's poems and thank her for taking the time to answer our questions. Here's the last:


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?

Joy: It is a solitary art but sometimes I send new tanka to close ones – family and friends, especially those in the tanka world. Mostly I just write poems because they demand it! I usually don’t think about publishing unless I get a reminder or a nudge from someone. I only began publishing because Sandy Goldstein made me send tanka to M.Kei for Atlas Poetica, and Kei said we should make books, over ten years ago. It kind of steamrollered from there and now there are too many books. M.Kei said that we must leave something creative behind for when we leave this life. That made sense to me, when I thought of all the writers who have influenced my own life.

Joy McCall was born in Norwich, England at the end of World War II. Her father served as a chaplain in the British air force in India and Burma. After marrying a Canadian, Joy raised her two daughters in Canada. Later, she moved back to Norwich, where she worked as a nurse to be close to her parents until their passing. Life took a heartbreaking turn when Joy's younger daughter, Wendy, a psychologist, tragically succumbed to Multiple Sclerosis in 2021, leaving a profound void in her mother's heart.

Despite facing tremendous challenges, Joy remains resilient. She suffered a life-altering accident 21 years ago, leaving her paraplegic and amputated, confining her to a bed. Throughout it all, her devoted husband, Andy, has been her unwavering support and rock.

In the face of adversity, Joy finds solace in poetry and the beauty of nature. She has channeled her passion for writing and has authored several books of tanka, available on Amazon.

Joy began writing tanka when she was nine years old, after discovering Ryokan's poems in the school library. The sense of the outside world and how it relates to her inner world fascinates her. Poems just come to Joy; she doesn't actively "think" about them. Often, they arrive at night or after she observes something in nature that deeply moves her.

While Joy admires the works of old poets, she also believes that there are many wonderful tanka poets in the present age. She refrains from naming them, fearing she might inadvertently leave out someone who matters. Her knowledge of tanka expanded not just from studying Ryokan, Shiki, and Saigyo, but also from the teachings of modern poets like Sandy Goldstein, Denis Garrison, M. Kei, and numerous others.

The challenge for this week:

It has been such a pleasure and privilege to share Joy's poems this month, and I can't thank her enough for letting us do this because I've realised she's quite a private person. Like her tanka-prose, her tanka too have left me spellbound. I hope they have inspired you. You can look up her books on amazon. This week there is no challenge, just go where her tanka take you. I look forward to reading your amazing responses. 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.

7. All TANKA ART must have the photo source written clearly.

Otherwise it won't be accepted.

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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286 comentários

Membro desconhecido
05 de set. de 2023



a bow

with folded hands

to the shine

within —

a seeker

Amrutha V. Prabhu


Feedback most welcome :)


mona bedi
mona bedi
04 de set. de 2023



Revised thanks to Firdaus:


I keep awake late into the night. It's been like that for years. In my younger days I would wait to see the sun rise. There is a certain magic to all of this. When the world is still sleeping, a faint glow of light starts to peek through the thin curtains. The sky turns a bit pink, a bit orange. Then slowly the yellow-orange takes over. Soon on a backdrop of dawn chorus, the sun rises to all its glory.

the gold

on a monarch’s wings —


comes alive

in my sunlit garden

Feedback appreciated:)


I keep awake late into the night. In my younger days I would wait to…

Firdaus Parvez
Firdaus Parvez
05 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

The first sentence seems incomplete/an incomplete thought that doesn’t really transfer to the rest of the prose. Complete that thought then move on to the younger days. Other than that I like the tanka-prose.


Membro desconhecido
04 de set. de 2023

#3 04/09/2023


stealing butter

from neighbour's pot

little krishna ...

on their face

a dancing thief


stealing butter

from neighbour's pot

little krishna ...

on their face

i caught a thief

Amrutha V. Prabhu


Concept: benne kadanamma song

Feedback most welcome

Membro desconhecido
05 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

I see the present tense and past tense issue that you are seeing. Thank you for feedback.


Marilyn Humbert
Marilyn Humbert
04 de set. de 2023

#1 4th sept 23


flocks of bar-tail finches

at Trephina Gorge

their brown feather cloaks

over bright red waistcoats

Marilyn Humbert


feedback welcome

Firdaus Parvez
Firdaus Parvez
05 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

What beautiful birds. Lovely image!


wanda amos
wanda amos
04 de set. de 2023

#1 4/9/23

the flick

of the goanna’s tongue

keeps time

with a haunting rhythm


wanda amos


feedback welcome

wanda amos
wanda amos
06 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks @Mona

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