Friday, January 11, 2008


It seems as if everyone is familiar with haiku, but fewer people have heard of tanka. Tanka was developed in the late 700s in Japan and consists of five lines -- traditionally the first and third have five syllables, the second, fourth, and fifth have seven.

A haiga is artwork that is accompanied by haiku, but tanka writers have started making "taigas," like this one by Michael McClintock (poem) and Karen McClintock (art).

Some additional information from artist Karen McClintock:
The new movement in modern English tanka over the last 20 or so years has strayed away from the formal syllable counting of the past, with many prominent poets dropping it entirely. Poem lines are still short, and three or five lines, but haiku and tanka is being written in our language with an ear to content, flow, lyric, and expression of idea rather than adhering to a strict pattern of syllables which many poets find too confining. My husband (Michael McClintock) pioneered this movement 40 years ago and thinks it is the future direction of the whole genre in the west.

A bonus...

A haiku by pre-modern Japanese poet Raizan

You rice-field maidens!
The only things not muddy
Are the songs you sing.


It's a double bonus day...I am loving all this wonderful imagery!

Prairie Fires
by Hamlin Garland, 1860-1940

A curving, leaping line of light,
A crackling roar from hot, red lungs,
A wild flush on the skies of night,
A force that gnaws with hot red tongues,
That leaves a blackened smoking sod
A fiery furnace where the cattle trod.

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