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TANKA TAKE HOME - 9th November 2022 | poet of the month - Tish Davis

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

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

Introducing a new perspective to our Wednesday Feature!

poet of the month: Tish Davis

9th November

Tish Davis / Tanka Prose

Marked with a "B"

curved wood

to and fro rhythms . . .

my grandson

lifts another flap

in the board book

Baby animals. I bring my lips together and make their sounds. He delights in touching the textures: wiry whiskers; soft fur; down feathers . . . Oh, how each open window's treasure must feel against fingers still so new! The white pom pom yarn used for the bunny's tail is his favorite.

the bunny

on the cardboard page

still waiting

for me

to imitate its cry

My grandson, a "MoMo" twin and the only one to make it to term, has fallen asleep on my lap with one of his little hands wrapped around my index finger. I rock him, rock him, and listen to him breathe. Was he holding his brother's hand when his brother passed?

rocking in this chair

what's connecting the curved wood

I cannot see;

something stronger holds me

holding my grandson

First published in Skylark (7:1, Summer 2019)

Author's note: For additional info on monoamniotic twins.


Thank you, Tish, for taking time off to answer our questions. _()_

2. TTH: How did you get started as a poet? I was in the “Advanced Literature” class in high school. One of our assignments was to memorize and recite the Prologue to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. I started writing poetry then. During my last year of high school, that same teacher encouraged us to submit a poem for some type of competition. (I don’t remember the details.) During an awards ceremony that last week of school it was announced that my poem had been selected. I don’t remember if I “won” or “placed” but I was surprised and that motivated me to sign up for poetry classes in college. In one of my poetry classes, I was introduced to a public speaking team that travelled to other universities and competed. I signed up for the classification “Oral Interpretation of Poetry.” Our coach taught us how to mark up our selected poem, so we knew where to stress a syllable and where to pause. I received high marks in my first competition. I recited an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benét’s “John Brown’s Body.” I think of that poem even now in the context of tanka prose and how one can often amplify musicality via the use of repetition.

Bio: Tish Davis lives in Northern Ohio. Her tanka and related forms have appeared in numerous online and print publications. When she isn’t busy with work and grandchildren she enjoys exploring the local parks with her husband and three dogs.

Challenge for this week: rocking in this chair

what's connecting the curved wood

I cannot see;

something stronger holds me

holding my grandson

Ls 4 & 5 are subtle and seem to hold true mysterious grace in the above tanka. In my years of coming to understand the tanka spirit, I think it's this mysterious quality in tanka and that too in the lower verse (Ls 4 & 5) that zeros in on tanka spirit. D T Suzuki says:

Yugen (幽玄) is a mysterious concept. It is a compound of two characters, the first of which indicates mist settling in a valley and the second indicating impenetrability. Give us tanka & tanka-prose loaded with "yugan." Not saying it's easy! Just try! It would be so beautiful if all of you share your feedback on others' tanka and tanka-prose. This is a nurturing space and as much as we love getting feedback for our poems, I'm sure each poet feels the same. Please make it a two-way road :))) ***

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 this theme too.

An essay on how to write tanka: Tanka Flights PLEASE NOTE 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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