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TANKA TAKE HOME: 3rd January 2024 Kirsten Cliff Elliot - poet of the month

Updated: Jan 6

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

featured poet: Kirsten Cliff Elliot

January 3, 2024


in my mind's eye

this new tanka . . .

the tinker tinker tinker

of teaspoon against mug

Eucalypt 11 (November 2011)

pulling colour

from this stretch of pain

my poetic muse

the lengths I will go

for her in my life

Presence #49 (February 2014) from ‘Songs of Change’ tanka sequence with Seánan Forbes

We are delighted to feature Kirsten Cliff Elliot this month. She has answered all our questions very graciously and we're grateful for her time and effort. Here're the first two:


TTH: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?

Kirsten: I don’t come from a literary family, but my mum reads every day and especially before going to sleep at night, which is a healthy habit I’ve adopted. Books, reading and library visits were a regular part of my growing up: I remember reading all the stories about witches in my local library. I loved entering competitions and was always winning things: my first poem was published in the newspaper at age five for which I won $5. However, I was more likely to make up a dance or act out a TV advert in front of my parents than sit down and write. I did pen a few teenage angst poems and briefly kept a journal of quotes I liked; nothing that showed a passion or early aptitude for writing.

Q 2.

TTH: How did you get started as a poet? What was it about tanka that inspired you to embrace this ancient form of poetry? In short, why do you keep writing tanka?

Kirsten: I started writing articles, stories and poems when my health declined to a point where I couldn’t hold down a job. I was at home, and by myself a lot, so had time to think and explore. I also had crushing grief and loss to deal with, which made great fodder for creative work and helped me process my feelings and make sense of my pain. I discovered tanka after writing haiku for a few years and it captured me: the honesty of haiku with the fullness of emotion gave me more space to express myself whilst still being brief. I write tanka for these same reasons today: to process and (hopefully) make sense of what I’m going through, often physical pain and suffering as well as emotional distress. I usually write more in times of very poor physical health, as again I find myself in that state of having the time and space to explore and compose in my head and on paper. I’m grateful to have tanka to turn to as a container for my truth.

Bio note:

Kirsten Cliff Elliot describes herself as a reader, writer and librarian from New Zealand, now living in England. She also identifies as Queer and chronically ill/disabled. Kirsten has been writing and publishing haikai since 2007 and has taught poetry workshops in schools and online. She was formerly the editor of the haikai section of the New Zealand Poetry Society magazine, a fine line. She also judged the junior section of their International Haiku Competition in 2013. Kirsten published an e-chapbook of haiku and tanka in 2011, thinking of you: twenty poems of love, which she distributed as a free gift for Valentine’s Day. In 2019, her first full-length collection of haiku and tanka came out, Patient Property: a journey through leukaemia (Velvet Dusk Publishing), which was shortlisted in The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Distinguished Books Award 2019. Copies are available for purchase HERE. Outside of writing, reading and exploring England with her husband, she is most involved with CILIP: The library and information association (UK) as: Digital Champion for the LGBTQ+ Network; an assessor on the Professional Registration Panel; and was recently named in the CILIP 125, a list of the next generation of professionals who will lead the sector into a new age of information.

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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!

Please also, in case of tanka-art, tell us if it's your own picture or someone else's. We will be unable to accept it otherwise.


The challenge for this week:

Stirring sugar or milk/cream into tea or coffee and then sipping it slowly are often moments of quiet reflection. Through an everyday image of ‘tinker tinker tinker / of teaspoon against mug’, Kirsten gives an insight into the editing process and how a poem arrives at its final form, occasionally after several ‘mental’ rewrites and revisions.

The second tanka centers around her ‘poetic muse’, how her life revolves around her, the sacrifices she will make to keep her active and pleased. When the poet says, ‘pulling colour / from this stretch pain’ we understand fleetingly the extent to which she ‘will go / for her in my [her] life'; the reader feels her intense suffering and her equally intense desire to rise above it in order to create something of lasting value.

We invite you to write tanka about either your creative process or your relationship with your muse.


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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865 views390 comments

390 תגובות


dog walking

there is something hidden

in his stops

my senses awaken

the sleeping muse

Richard L. Matta


~ comments welcome


Biswajit Mishra
Biswajit Mishra
09 בינו׳



sometimes more

sometimes less

snow on mountains—

all is good with me

this winter

Biswajit Mishra

Calgary Canada

Feedback welcome

Biswajit Mishra
Biswajit Mishra
09 בינו׳
בתשובה לפוסט של

Thank you very much Sanjuktaa.


lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
09 בינו׳

#2, 9/01, please look at this dearest mentors since a new one comes up on 10th. @priti aisola @Kirsten Cliff Elliot

the growing inability

to edit a perfect prose

all in the game

even the crows try their best

to pick up the measured twigs

Lakshmi Iyer, India

Feedback please


mona bedi
mona bedi
08 בינו׳

Tanka prose


Missed Chance

There is surely something called as first love. Mine was years back when I was in school. He never even glanced at me except for once when out of the blue he asked me to the prom.

departing moon

the whiff of your presence

in the jasmine —

I pick some flowers

to bedeck my braid

Feedback appreciated:)

Mona Bedi


mona bedi
mona bedi
09 בינו׳
בתשובה לפוסט של

Thanks 😊


nalini shetty
nalini shetty
08 בינו׳

1. 8/1/24

amid daily chores

my muse toils

to take form

on a starved canvas

an evening sun

Nalini Shetty


feedback welcome

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