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TANKA TAKE HOME: 8th November 2023 - Featured Book: The Ink Dark Moon

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

featured book: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan. Translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani November 8, 2023

“Tsuma kouru / saoshika no ne ni / sayo hukete / waga katakoi o / ari to shirinuru”

Night deepens

with the sound

of a calling deer,

and I hear

my own one-sided love.

- Ono no Komachi

“Hana chirasu / haru no arashi wa / akikaze no / mi ni shimu yori mo / wabishi kari keri”

No bone-chilling

autumn wind

could pierce me

like this spring storm

scattering blossoms.

- Izumi Shikibu

“Anyone who attempts that impossible task, the translation of poetry, must at some point wonder what exactly a poem might be, if not its own body of words. For surely, as all can attest who have made the hard and joyous effort to write well a poem of their own, poetry dwells in words: absolutely particular in meaning, irreplaceably individual in rhythm and sound. Yet there must be something in addition to words, an underlying sense of a destination unknown but also there, which makes us accept one phrase and reject another when they rise to mind in a poem's first making, or delete or alter or add when we revise. The act of writing a poem is not only a making but also a following: of the mystery of source as it emerges into form, of the wisdom of the heart and mind as it encounters the wisdom of language. The act of translation constitutes a leap of faith, a belief that somehow this part of a poem that lives both through words and beyond words can be kept alive, can move from its life in one verbal body into another.”

– Jane Hirshfield

—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


Note: This book has the English translation of poems by two great Japanese women tanka poets. It has Japanese versions as well, and if you want to read how they have translated the verses I recommend that you buy the book. I can only post the tanka and probably a short excerpt. There’s a good portion of the book dedicated to the translation method and some interesting facts.


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:  

Sorry for the late post, days of the week have eluded me for some reason. But here we are with two amazing tanka yet again, to inspire you, to move you ... pick up your pen, phone, or wherever you prefer to write and look around you, where does your mind wander when you look at an article of clothing, toy, or anything. Is there a story there, somewhere. Or, write whatever these tanka inspire. 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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