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TANKA TAKE HOME: 7th February, 2024 David Rice - poet of the month

Updated: Feb 10

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

February 7, 2024

poet of the month: David Rice

Bio note:

David Rice has been writing tanka for about thirty-five years and continues to write a tanka most days.

He was the editor of the Tanka Society of America's journal, Ribbons, from 2012-2019. His poems have appeared in many tanka journals and anthologies, and he has written seven tanka books, including three with other poets (Cheri Hunter Day, Autumn Noelle Hall, and Lynne Leach.) He is donating all the proceeds from his latest book, Sequelae (2023), tanka prose, to the Climate Emergency Fund.

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

I did not write as a child. My father edited television scripts and wrote a few short stories. I remember reading The Count of Monte Christo on a bus ride home from junior high school, because I wanted to know what happened next.

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?

I started writing free verse poetry when I was in graduate school. They weren't very good. Many years of schooling had taught me how to think, but not how to connect with my inner world. I found haiku in the mid-1980s. It helped me focus on what I observed, rather than thinking too much about what I observed, but I wasn't much good at haiku either; still too much in my head. I found tanka in the late 1980s, and it was a good fit for me. Five lines instead of three gave me enough room to connect images with my feelings and not too much room to overthink.

We are deeply grateful to David for sharing his beautiful work and thoughts with us, and look forward to a month of reading his poetry.


spring walk

with the rocky gurgle

of a mountain stream—

when it went underground

I missed you

Woodnotes, Winter 1993, Number 19


Attention, Please

The spiritual teachers tell me to let go of the outcome, since I know I'm going to die. Be present.

the fragrant iris

is blooming in our garden


I go out

just to inhale

But since the future for us as a species, and lots of other species, is unimaginable loss, given our unsustainable growth-is-good system, it's hard for me to let go of that outcome and just be present.

my granddaughter's growing

—vegetables, too—

and learning earth science

if only she could plant

some magic beans

Our teachers now are flowers, climatologists, and hospice workers. They tell me to pay attention as we plummet.

those swallows long ago

fluttering over the gravel road

where a car killed

one of their swoop

now I see they were us

from Sequelae: tanka prose (2022)

Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3

These eloquent poems, published 17 years apart, are a wonderful example of a melding of nature and human emotion. The first tanka begins with the description of a spring's journey. And then L5 brings in a completely different twist. Who, or what is the poet missing? Is it the stream, a person, or does this speak to a larger loss- the loss of habitat?

A similar theme of environmental damage is elaborated on in the tanka prose. I was also struck by the progression of each tanka—from the personal, to the poet's granddaughter, to a more universal observation. So much to learn about the craft of writing here ...

Challenge for this week:

Inspired by these thoughtful pieces of poetry, please write tanka or tanka prose on the theme of ecological sustainability.

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!


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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brightly lit billboards

skyscrapers and streetlights...

stars shy away from

shimmering cities and now

we go miles to see starlit skies

Padma Priya


Feedback welcome


summer parchment


gleaming water tanks

across the rooftops

dry as a boulder

Meenu Maria Jose



Feedback welcome


to express wonder

is ordinary? passé?

sense that within

ahh, that’s a tale to be

left unspoken, my friend!

Kala Ramesh



Feedback is always appreciated.

Replying to

Liked the direct speech!!


Unknown member
Feb 12



Painting the earth!

Tagore's statement of thesis reads: " Construction is for a purpose, it expresses our wants but creation is for itself, it expresses our very being."

when i die

i would come

back to earth ...

with another colourful dress

another mother giving me birth

In another occasion he declares: "We must know that, as, through science and commerce, the realization of the unity of the material world gives us power, so the realization of the great spiritual unity of man only gives us peace."

this hand,

this hand that holds

the pen

holds the storm

that cries for peace

He sees "the crumbling ruins of a proud civilization strewn like a vast of futility." Even…

Replying to

Brilliiant Amrutha. I liked the last two tanka very much. The tanka take forward the prose in a very strong way.


#3 First tanka prose

The Sparrow


It starts in spring when other birds are streaming sticks and grass to the spreading Melaleuca.

Before sunrise you perch on the ledge of our bedroom window. Day after day tapping the glass.


Then you’ve gone and we forget about you for a while, until downstairs at our study window you return with a mate, and again, we take part in your existence.

This time you hover, pecking the pane, wings flap furiously until gravity drops you. Feathers stick and poo dribbles down the glass while she screeches at you from the fence.


Eventually she follows, perhaps discouraged at your slow progress and her need to lay her eggs. Now there’s…

Replying to

I loved the prose; it is absolutely spellbinding. Love it when the narrator shows how close they see themselves to other living things. You tanka-prose has captured it so well.

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