TANKA TAKE HOME - 8 December, 2021

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh



Lying alone,

my black hair tangled,

uncombed,

I long for the one

who touched it first.

— Izumi Shikibu


“A good deal more has been recorded about the life of Izumi Shikibu, who came to the Heian court at the height of its greatness to serve a former empress...

...Despite her marriage to a provincial official...

...and the birth of a daughter, Shikibu began a passionate liaison with the empress’s step-son; the resulting scandal left her divorced and disowned by her family. Three years later, a year after her first lover had died, his brother, Prince Atsumichi, sent Shikibu an exploratory gift of orange blossoms, and thus commenced a new affair.”

—The Ink Dark Moon - Love poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu.

Women of ancient Court of Japan.

Translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani

(This book has the English translation of poems by two great Japanese women tanka poets. It also has the original Japanese versions and if anyone wants to read how they have translated the verses we strongly recommend that you buy the book. We can only post the tanka and probably a short excerpt. There’s a good portion of the book dedicated to the translation method.)


What is it about first love and this bitter sweet feeling? Does this poem take you back in time? Put it in a tanka or tanka-prose and share with us, or take an entirely different path. Any word in this tanka can become your prompt: Lying alone, black, tangled hair, longing for love, first touch.

We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished tanka and tanka-prose (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in haikuKATHA monthly magazine.

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