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National Poetry Month Tanka

The background is Japan’s flag. On the left side is the kanji for tanka, on the right side is the kanji for haiku. In the middle the text says, “haiku & tanka”


The tanka is an ancient form of Japanese poetry that uses 31 syllables. Once upon a time, it was called waka. Tanka translates to “short poem” to distinguish it from a “long poem” choka. Long ago, waka was exchanged between cultured lovers. In the late 20th century, Japanese poet and critic Masaoka Shiki wanted to renew the art form and decided to let tanka be the renewed name.


  • Follows a common syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7
  • The 5-7-5 is known as the kami-no-ku (upper phrase) and the 7-7 is known as the shima-no-ku (lower phrase)

Good examples - Cricket Never Does: A Collection of Haiku and Tanka DB046169 and The seasons of Time; Tanka Poetry of Ancient Japan BR000906

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 1:00 p.m.