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TANKA TAKE HOME: 6th September 2023 Kathy Kituai - poet of the month

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

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 6, 2023

And now, Kate's responses to our questions.

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

No, I didn’t come from a literary background. There weren’t any books in my family home except an encyclopedia, a special treat if convalescing, and a weekly stack of comics.

My introduction to literature occurred the day I learnt that the letters of the alphabet can be structured into words. The magic of it all, the sudden rush of joy and curiously, fear (a strange reaction indeed), still surges through me as I recall this. Did the teacher realise the depth and power she was teaching? I looked over my shoulder in case someone might chastise us. This elation floods me, even today.

Enid Brighton was the first writer to catch my imagination with The Faraway Tree and held it for many years. I had a secret tree (so I thought) in the backyard, climbed it and lost myself in the language of the wind, the blueness of the sky and words that held the key to endless possibility.

I had no idea I was a writer until late in life.

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?

My boss, John Collier at the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies (I was assistant editor) in the early 80’s recognised that I was a writer. He ordered me to write in the afternoons at work and just look busy if the Big Boss came in.

Had I not sent my first attempts to pen tanka to Yellow Moon and received wise and compassionate editorial advice from editor Beverley George, I may not have continued.

My first exposure of coming home to myself (like the experience of learning how the alphabet transforms into words), returned the day I learnt tanka. Inferring what’s underneath the text whenever possible, thrilled. Still does. There is so much to learn overall as a poet and writer in general in the mastering of tanka, concision and complex simplicity for instance, a skill that has heightened my dexterity as a free verse poet. Why stop writing it?

<> <> every night

she raises to her mouth

his teabowl

whose idea was it

to glaze it with the moon

First Prize, Tea Towel Award

Caterpillars and Butterflies, Michelle Brook Ribbons, Fall 2020, Vol 16, No. 3


in this season’s tomatoes …

if I remove

blemish after blemish,

what will be left of love

Ribbons 17, No 2

The challenge for this week:   I love the crystal-clear imagery and the direct and simple language in both the tanka above. One can easily complicate a poem, but to write it in a simple way needs a good understanding and a firm mind!

The challenge this week - you've guessed it right!                                              

Write a simple love poem, and let it touch your readers' hearts. It can be about: The coming of love Being in love

The growing compatibility

or the parting


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 


Starting with our October issue (issue 24), haikuKATHA will only consider haiga and tanka-art submissions that showcase your original artwork or photos. No more using stuff from free sites or AI-generated images, because we want you to boost your creativity!

But don't worry, we're all about collaboration. Because we know not everyone can draw or take great pictures. If you team up with an artist or photographer and we accept your work for publication, both of you will get credit for the masterpiece you've created. Make sure it’s their original work as well and they are not restricted by other publications to share them.

Just remember, it's on you to get permission from the artist/photographer before posting their stuff. We won't be responsible for any copyright issues. So, please keep these changes in mind. Have fun!

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. <> <>


664 views306 comments

306 Kommentare

Priya Narayanan
Priya Narayanan
16. Sept. 2023


photo album

how naive we were

to think

that life was all

black and white

Feedback appreciated.

Gefällt mir
19. Sept. 2023
Antwort an

Oohhh! This is a gem! Loved it 💕

Gefällt mir

#1, 12/9 wet squirrel

on a slippery branch I wonder

whether or not

to take the leap

sanjuktaa asopa, India Does it qualify as a love tanka? Feedback most welcome.

Gefällt mir
Antwort an

Thanks for your feedback, Firdaus!A little ambiguity is good, no?

Gefällt mir

lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
12. Sept. 2023



a pomegranate . . .

the wonder

of the trillion blood cells

in you and me and they

Feedback please

Gefällt mir
lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
14. Sept. 2023
Antwort an


Gefällt mir

11. Sept. 2023



Caretaker's Diary


are these attachments

they come unsought

and go unwished

but leave a scar...and a star


Feedback Welcome


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Priti Aisola
Priti Aisola
12. Sept. 2023
Antwort an

’Attachments’ encompass a wide area. You have to narrow the reference down to something specific. In the absence of something concrete your first four lines read like a philosophic statement. Just my thought.

Gefällt mir


in early light

walking along the beach


your plane is miles high

and I'm a grain of sand

Feedback welcome.

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