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Annual Tanka Contest 2015 - Winners

ATC 2015 - Mandy's PagesMy heartiest congratulations to the winners who made it to the top at this year's Annual Tanka Contest at Mandy's Pages.  My gratitude goes out to all the contestants who participated and to the excellent judges who helped complete this tanka contest. 

The First Place winner receives USD 100.00 along with a certificate and the various books / journals listed here.

  • A year's membership (2 issues) of Skylark: A Tanka Journal, a copy of 'twelve moons' and publication of the winning entry in the next issue of Skylark - sponsored by tanka judge Claire Everett
  • A copy of Casting Shadows and Slow Growing Ivy by David Terelinck, Wind through the Wheatfields: tanka by Beverley George writing with friends, and Grevillea & Wonga Vine: Australian Tanka of Place, edited by Beverley George and David Terelinck - sponsored by tanka judge David Terelinck
  • Iconic Moon and In Response to Triage - sponsored by Hazel Hall
  • Year of the Decree Absolute by Penny Destro- sponsored by Amanda Dcosta

The Second Place winner wins USD 50.00 and a certificate.

  • Cash prize sponsored by Darryl Rosario and Raymond Alexander Kukkee (author of The Fires of Waterland and Morgidoo's Christmas Carol)

Contestants at the Highly Commended and Commended places will receive a certificate each. 


Books by David Terelinck

 


 Winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2015

1st Place

his stand
on chemotherapy . . .
a bluebird’s cry
nestles in the palm
of sunrise

Christine Villa

USA

 

2nd Place

she speaks
of winter sunlight breaking
through the trees . . .
her son’s nose print
on the hospice window 

Chen-ou Liu
Canada

 

Highly Commended 

prevailing winds
shape the growth
of a sapling . . .
I try in vain to alter
the shadows that I cast

Urszula Funnell
England

 

Highly Commended

forced tulips
for our picnic on the porch
my father
no longer
interested in food

Jari Thymian,
USA

 

Commended

what to do
with these old pillows . . .
each one
filled with the feathers
of a thousand dreams 

Susan Constable
Canada


Judging Report by Claire Everett and David Terelinck

 

Skylark: A Tanka JournalThank you to Amanda D’Costa for asking us to judge the 2015 Annual Tanka Contest for Mandy’s Pages. We are honoured to have been entrusted with this role of reading and selecting winners and short-listed entrants from a field of 108 tanka. 

When submitting tanka to competitions it is always important for entrants to have a solid grasp of what a tanka is. Just because a short poem has five lines does not automatically make it a tanka. This genre has a rich background that has defined what tanka is today. Unfortunately many of the submissions to this contest fell short of being tanka in a number of criteria. Equally, some strong tanka with vivid imagery might have been placed in this competition were it not for a misplaced word or poorly thought-out line breaks. 

As judges we were always looking for poetry within the poem. This means the cadence and rhythm of the writing, lyrical word usage, appropriate imagery, fresh metaphors and a new way of expressing emotion. A key criteria for these judges has always been show, don’t tell. We looked for tanka that started and finished strongly and did not trail away in the last lines. Too many tanka fell victim of cliché, or started beautifully, only to fall flat with an unimaginative image, emotion or observation as juxtaposition. Tanka that was topical, relevant and contemporary, yet showed respect to centuries of history that have preceded us, also rated highly in our deliberations. 

First place went to an outstanding tanka that was lyrical and suggestive. There was a true understanding of the poetic use of language to create an image and understated emotive layer No overt feeling is mentioned and it is left to the reader to define the effect of these words as they journey with this tanka.

 

1st place

his stand
on chemotherapy . . .
a bluebird’s cry
nestles in the palm
of sunrise 

Morgidoo's Christmas Carol - by Raymond Alexander KukkeeThe tanka employs usual metaphor and imagery in the last three lines. There is much room for interpretation as to whether this belief in cytotoxic therapy is supported or denied. Is this the bluebird of happiness and hope . . . or is this the blueness we associate with sadness and pending loss? The reader has plenty of space to ruminate on the possible interpretations of this tanka. Are we to think that the subject of the poem has changed his mind, or does the voice of the poem wish, or hope, that he will? Subtle allusions to the medical setting add strength to this tanka when one considers the alternative meaning of ‘stand’; the cry of the ‘bird in the hand’ is also reminiscent of the motto and calls to mind the medication that might be sustaining life, and hope. The image “nestling in the palm of sunrise” is striking and it is possible the poet meant that the outcome of this choice literally rests in the hands of god? 

 

2nd place 

she speaks
of winter sunlight breaking
through the trees . . .
her son’s nose print
on the hospice window 


The second place tanka also employs a traditional construction of S/L/S/L/L that worked very well with the word choice and imagery. Again there is a wealth of dreaming room. Is the narrator a dying person in the bed, or someone who is visiting a hospice patient? Is this son a child, a teen, or perhaps a mature adult? Is the “winter sunlight breaking through the trees” a sign that this person is aware of a world that lies beyond this one? Is she about to embrace death? The image of the nose print suggests someone looking closely to try to see what the woman is speaking of – is it real, or an illusion? The poet uses simple language to create a striking image that is easy to relate to, but does not define emotion. 

 

The Fires of Waterland - by Raymond Alexander KukkeeHighly Commended 

prevailing winds
shape the growth
of a sapling . . .
I try in vain to alter
the shadows that I cast 

This tanka was awarded a HC due to strong structure and a very tight metaphor that seamlessly linked the upper and lower parts of the tanka. We are left with questions that challenge us as readers . . . what shadows have been cast, and why is this person trying so desperately to change what has passed? Try as we might to change the shape of the shadows we cast, there are many things in life we cannot alter. As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20-20.” The “prevailing winds” give this tanka a fatalistic feel, a sense of destiny, and the “sapling” hints of a young person whose life-path was determined by forces beyond his/her control. Again no obvious emotion is stated and the reader can arrive at their own conclusions as to the layers of loss and grief within this poem. 


Highly Commended: 

forced tulips
for our picnic on the porch
my father
no longer
interested in food 

This HC entry employed a strong juxtaposition in an unusual metaphor with the forced tulips and a father who has disassociated from food. Forced tulips indicate some urgency, an inability to wait for spring and the natural order of the world. Is this father dying and closing off to life around him? Are the family trying to find a way to force him to eat? Or, on the contrary, has the family accepted the natural course of things (a strong contrast to the opening line) and are now keen to sustain their loved one in other ways . . . and here it is, a feast for the eyes! Picnics usually take place in areas of natural beauty. This one is on the porch: perhaps an indication that father cannot travel far now. 

 

In Response to TriageCommended

what to do
with these old pillows . . .
each one
filled with the feathers
of a thousand dreams

 

This Commended tanka again used a fresh image to show emotion. There are many poems written about dreaming, but this is a fresh take with years of dreams being tied to old pillows that have outlived their usefulness. How many everyday items do we take for granted? The tanka opens with quite a seemingly mundane image and then, like a pillow being flipped over to the cool side on a hot summer night, it surprises us with a wistful observation that in its reference to “a thousand dreams” is reminiscent of Heian Court Poetry and the notion of a “pillow book.” The reader is left wanting to know more of these dreams, and the persons who dreamed them. 

Congratulations to the winners!

 ~Claire Everett and David Terelinck

 

 

 

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