Monday, 16 August 2010

a jester
all these years
I've worn
so many smiles
I could not own


Frank said...

A very touching tanka, Paul...

bazza said...

Some personal revelation here Paul?
By the way how does one define a tanka?

Kelly Marszycki said...

perceptive yet finely crafted!

Paul Smith said...

Hi Frank, bazza, Kelly, thank you for taking the time to comment.

bazza, whether personal or observational as a poet I would never tell!

How does one define a tanka? A good question... with more answers than you could possibly imagine!

For me a tanka seeks to capture a moment, a feeling, an inkling even that has both personal and universal appeal. Tanka is 'a poem with a middle only; its beginning lies in the poet's actual experience, and its end, if any, has to be sought in the readers mind. It is a piece of life captured verbally.' (Yosano Akiko - quoted in '100 TANKA - Translated by Amelia Fielden and Saeko Ogi- Modern English Tanka Press)

Many have argued this way and that about what makes a tanka a tanka, syllable count, format short/long/short/long/long and the like, while others seek to express the heart of the Japanese tradition. Truth is, each poet must find her/his own way, express their poetry as only they can.

Personally I find that the poem will determine the format as it unfolds, as you can see from my work here @ Paper Moon some follow the s/l/s/l/l/ format & others are much more free flowing.

bazza I hope this helps. You can learn much more by following some of the links, Modern English Tanka is particularly good. You can access all the printed editions online and there is a wealth of articles on tanka and related forms within each journal. Happy hunting!

bazza said...

Wow. Thanks for that comprehensive answer. I suppose Haiku is a little more rigid in structure and more self-contained.

Paul Smith said...

bazza, haiku is certainly more objective than tanka / gogyohka (gogyohka is a modern twist on the tanka form created by Enta Kusakabe, five lines being the only requirement)although senryu can accommodate more personal reflections. Again the formal requirements of haiku 5/7/5 syllables appear to be the acception these days rather than the rule.

I think as the Japanese short poem continues to grow and feel at home in English speaking soil (as it were) the natural flow of English will determine structure more and more and rightly so in my opinion (without neglecting the rich vein of tradition the Japanese have created over the last thousand years or more.

joanne said...

such a beautifully relatable poem.

thank you for the comprehensive discussion with bazza on tanka which is very informative and helpful.

Paul Smith said...

Hi Joanne, welcome to Paper Moon and thank you for your comment. I am pleased you found the discussion informative.