45 degrees north latitude & 90 degrees west longitude

On a day that started with a mural of a Noble Prize winner and a statue of a feminist role model (Bob Dylan & Mary Tyler Moore–both in Minneapolis) perhaps it wasn’t that surprising to find ourselves mid-way between the equator and the north pole.

In a corn field.

at lunch I asked you
if anyone could really
every know
another person–
you sipped iced tea

Mountain Moving Day by Yosano Akiko

This week in poetry class we’ve been doing American haiku and perhaps the less well known form of tanka. For many years I wrote many tanka, few haiku, and then a few years ago it shifted. Both forms are exquisite, but tanka takes me straight to Akiko Yosano, the Japanese feminist.

Disregarding right and wrong,

The next world,

We face each other

Loving and loved.
(From TANGLED HAIR by Akiko Yosano– published in l901. Translated by Sanford Goldstein and Seishi Shinoda, Cheng & Tsui 2002.)

You have yet to touch

This soft flesh,

This throbbing blood –

Are you not lonely,

Expounder of the Way?

(yawahada no atsuki chishio ni furemomide
sabishikarazuya michiwo toku kimi)


I wrote these tanka, thinking of hers:

snow on the mountain
late this year
I try
to tell myself
my drought has ended.

election day—
still yellow leaves,
where will this sculpture
of a Navajo woman
be in a thousand years?

She also wrote less structured free verse. I had hoped to publish this in a more festive mood with different election results, but it is still one of my favorite poems.

The mountain moving day is coming
I say so, yet others doubt.
Only a while the mountain sleeps.
In the past
All mountains moved in fire
Yet you may not believe it.
Oh man this alone believe,
All sleeping women
Now will awake and move.

Tanka by Mary Kendall

who am I
to judge you
without knowing
why you built
your fence?


words grow muted
and hearing diminished –
I begin to tiptoe
along the lonely curve
of inner silence

This tanka first appeared in Ekphrastic, a Journal of Writing and Art about Art and Writing, 9/2/16

Glass Fish haiga, haiku, tanka, and art

Every so often my blog does something odd–like show this piece from 2010 as having the most visitors yesterday. Nice to see this glass fish by Hiroshi Yamano.


circling around
like the old year
upon the new…
a golden splash
of sunset

Mary Kendall

Fish skims air-water
amber clear light along gills
sun sparkles bubbles

Alicia Marie Rencountre-Da Silva

Anyone else want to add a haiku or short poem?

Call for Tanka

Call for Contributions: Exemplary Tanka of Our Time (article)

I am working on an article for a future issue of Atlas Poetica : A Journal of World Tanka on the topic of ‘Exemplary Tanka of Our Time.’ I am seeking contributions from readers regarding tanka poems they find exemplary and were written and published during our lifetimes. These tanka cannot be your own work, but must be the work of another poet. You must include the poet’s name and a proper citation for where you found the poem. (MLA format preferred.)

Contributions must be accompanied by commentary explaining why you find the poem exemplary. You may focus on a particular detail, such as alliteration, or a more general approach, such as discussing how the imagery evokes a particular mood, but the goal is to provide information that helps readers and poets better understand the craft. In other words, the sort of constructive feedback given in a workshop, not mere compliments, is what is sought here.

For those who are concerned about copyright, US copyright law permits “fair use” and fair use is explicitly defined to include discussion and analysis of literary works, which is exactly what we are doing.

You may submit up to three tanka/kyoka/gogyoshi/gogyohka with commentary not to exceed 300 words. Comments may be used in whole or in part. Your commentary, if accepted, will include a byline. All poems will be credited to their poets and previous place of publication.

I’m not sure what kind of response I will receive, so I don’t know how many I will be accepting. “Enough to make an article” is the best I can say. Deadline is December 15, 2015.

Send submissions to: AtlasPoetica (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject line “Example: your name”. This will help me sort them from the usual submissions to the journal.

M. Kei
Editor, Atlas Poetica : A Journal of World Tanka

An Orange Lantern, Eclipse of the Moon, and Failed Poem

Trying to get this to work, but it isn’t yet.

I saw the image in my backyard.


Alas, the orange
solar lantern
didn’t light
but luckily
there’s a moon.

It feels weak. That “alas” is too much. Should it be—“too bad?” But that seems skimpy.

Tried it as a one-line haiku, which falls flat. Orange solar lanterns didn’t light—luckily, there’s a moon. Seems to have no motion.

Now I’m realizing there will be an eclipse of the moon tonight. But if the eclipse is in the poem, nothing lights up!


Birds by Christy Hengst


Call for Submissions: Very Short Tanka Prose

We have had several very short tanka prose accepted for issue 23 of Atlas Poetica, so we’d like to do a focus on it for the issue. Please send very short tanka prose for ATPO 23. We are also interested in articles relating to very short tanka prose.

Atlas Poetica 23 will publish this autumn.

For those who have asked, ATPO 22 will publish in the final week of August.


M. Kei
Editor, Atlas Poetica
A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka



JUST A QUESTION from Miriam’s Well. Does anyone know much about very short tanka prose? Is it like one line haibun? Would you use only one tanka, or more?

Carole MacRury on Tanka

Carole MacRury on Tanka
She says: I write it because it brings me closer to my free verse roots, and it allows me to focus more on the personal than lyrical verse does. Like Haiku, it is condensed and can be powerful little poems. I’ve explored many themes in tanka. Here’s a link to my e-book, “The Tang of Nasturtiums”, which won the snapshot press e-book award. http://www.snapshotpress.co.uk/ebooks.htm


Some examples from this elegantly done collection:

in my closet
clothes for all occasions
yet the years
it took to be comfortable
in my own skin

this beach glass
scoured a cloudy blue
so like your eyes
fading and emptying
to a relentless tide

She also recommends: