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TANKA TAKE HOME: 4th October 2023 Susan Burch - 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: Susan Burch October 4, 2023

a magnet

with “poet” on it

stuck to my fridge

for years

a little white lie

Skylark 2014

will I ever


the squirrel

at the birdfeeder

hungry too

HPNC Contest Honorable Mention 2018

a cumulous cloud


would anyone


if I disappeared

HPNC Contest Honorable Mention 2019

Hoo knows

My dad always used to say, “Turn the lights out! Were you born in a barn?”

maybe the universe

got its wires crossed -

what if I’m really

a barn owl

trapped in a human body

Ribbons Winter 2023

We are delighted to feature Susan this month. Despite being such a private person she very graciously answered all our questions and we're grateful for her time and effort. Here're the first two:

Q1. TTH: Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you write as a child?

Susan: My dad was an English teacher and my parents read to me when I was little. I don’t remember much of what I liked until middle school. I liked mysteries like Alfred Hitchcock, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. Later I found Piers Anthony and fell in love with science fiction. His Xanth series is full of fun puns and interesting characters with magical abilities. I have always wanted a magical power since then.

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?

Susan: I started writing poetry out of boredom, in the margins of my notebook in History class in high school. It was mostly little rhyming poems and continued into the margins of my other classes, even into college. Later I found I joined that and wrote to their contests/prompts for a few years. Then a few years after that I found the Tanka Society of America and read their contest poems. I fell in love with the form and started writing them. I left poetrysoup and focused exclusively on Japanese forms. First tanka, then haiku/senryu, haibun, tanka prose, sedoka, sedoka prose, and later other forms like cherita and gembun.

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Susan Burch began writing tanka in April 2013 after reading winning contest poems on the Tanka Society of America website. She loved the brevity of the form and submitted to Ribbons, which published her first tanka and encouraged her to keep writing. She has placed in several tanka contests since then, and is now the First Vice President of the Tanka Society of America. Her ongoing goal is to promote the tanka form and to attract new readers and writers to tanka poetry. You can buy her book "Angry Tanka" here


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:   Susan has such a fine sense of humour and wit which she usually turns on herself. We have all witnessed her gift for wordplay in Triveni and the tanka and tanka-prose I've shared bears witness to her talent with words (very brief ones). She packs a punch in her brevity taking everyday situations and objects and weaving them into her poems. In the above poems she has highlighted the insecurities we all might feel from time to time. What am I? That's the question you need to ask yourself and then attempt a poem. That's the challenge. You can write outside this prompt as well. 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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