Writing Tanka poetry

Tanka poems are an older form of Japanese poetry than haiku but are very similar to haiku poems, but a little longer. Like the haiku, they start with three lines of five, seven and five syllables.

The poet then adds a further two lines, each of seven syllables, making a total of 31 syllables whereas the haiku have only 17 syllables. So, in order, each line has 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7 syllables.

Tanka poems are often about strong emotional subjects, like love or sadness, though this restriction is no longer the case with modern tanka written in English.

Nectarine tree blossoms

Nectarine tree blossoms

Here is a tanka poem I wrote this week.

Orchard adorned with
A pink and white petalled coat
In response to spring

Followed quickly by green leaves
And a promise of summer fruit.

Like haiku, tanka poems are usually untitled.

Related article:

If you would like to read some more of my poetry, click here.

Good writing.

Plum tree blossoms

Plum tree blossoms


2 Responses to “Writing Tanka poetry”

  1. earl moore says:

    Thanks you for your site. I love reading haiku and tanka.
    I am 63 years of age and starting writing in 2009. Also have written some Christian poems. Still learning to write in haiku and tanka form in meaning and sense.
    Here is one I wrote this week.

    a chilling wind
    prompts prayer for help
    plane body shifts
    on the edge of the crevice
    my thoughts in life’s balance.

  2. kristian says:

    i need to do a tanka poem about the universe. im having a hard time on it.