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 Where Tanka Prose Grows - September 8 to September 30 2014

Tanka Inscription on MonumentWelcome to the first round of the tanka prose challenge, 'Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014'.  Susan Burch and I are very excited to kick start this friendly, informal challenge.  Before I proceed with details of this challenge, I'd like to welcome veteran tanka poet and guide Ms. Kala Ramesh to write the foreword.  Thank you Kala for honoring me with your support and thoughts on tanka prose.  

Foreword by Kala Ramesh

When Amanda requested me to write a brief foreword to her Tanka Prose Challenge, I readily agreed. Not that I’m an expert in tanka prose, just as a mark of appreciation for Amanda and Susan; for their brilliant ideas to encourage tanka and tanka prose.

Now tanka prose is nothing but haibun. It has all the sensibilities and nuances you’ll find in haibun. Hai is taken from haikai no renga, a composition of linked verses in haikai style and bun means sentences. So haibun is prose embedded with haiku. In English, haikai has now come to signify the whole genre of composition that includes haiku, senryu, haibun, and haiga. When poets started to experiment haibun with tanka, there were many serious discussions and talk about how to refer to haibun with a tanka. Soon it became known as Tanka Prose – a nomenclature that gave prose with tanka a distinct flavour and identity. There are some who call it tankabun!

Kala Ramesh - PoetSo now we get to: Tanka prose.

It’s tight prose, and follows haikai language to a great extent. I would go so far as to say, that it needs *karumi* [a lightness and transparency] that Basho advised his students to use in haiku. I see things changing now. Poets use forceful, complicated language when writing a haibun or a tanka prose. If you are a student of haiku, you’ll know, it’s easy to be complex, but tough indeed to be simple — a great challenge constantly before us, when we attempt any of the Japanese short form poetry.

The second important point to remember is the relation between prose and tanka. The poem should not be a continuation of the prose passage, but should link yet shift away from the prose. This creates the juxtaposition and a certain void between the two. It is this space between the prose and the poem -- that creates the spark, that connection, which makes the tanka prose a rich experience for your reader.

Have fun! Enjoy this beautiful art form!


Skylark - A Tanka Journal

Prizes for the First Place Winner

Claire Everett, tanka poet, editor of Skylark (An English-language tanka journal dedicated to tanka in all its forms) and tanka prose editor at Haibun Today, has made a generous contribution toward this current round of 'Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014'. This is what she says: 

To show my support I will send a copy of the forthcoming winter 2014 issue of Skylark to the winner and offer publication of their winning piece in the summer 2015 issue of Skylark.

Thank you Claire for your wonderful and generous contribution towards this tanka prose challenge. 

Claire recommends potential participants new to tanka prose to read the essays (specific to form, style and composition) by Jeffrey Woodward (the leading expert on English language tanka prose) that are readily available online. 


 Guidelines for Submission 

  1. Theme: None / Poet's Choice
  2. Form: Tanka Prose
  3. Entry: Each participant is allowed to submit ONLY ONE entry to 'Where Tanka Prose Grows :2014' starting September 08, 2014. 'The challenge will end on September 30, 2014. 
  4. Submissions have to be original and unpublished tanka prose . (Tanka prose shared via social media will not be accepted.)
  5. There will be no entry fee for 'Where Tanka Prose Grows :2014' participation.
  6. Email your entries to Susan Burch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We start accepting submissions from September 08, to September 30, 2014. 
  7. Subject for the email will be: Where Tanka Prose Grows 2014: Tanka Prose Title (eg: Where Tanka Prose Grows 2014: A Winter's Night) 
  8. You will add details such as name and location below your tanka prose in the body of the email.
  9. Please do not send any attachments along with your email. Each tanka prose entry should  have a unique title, and  be neatly spaced in the body of the email.
  10. We request that you do not disclose your submissions online at public discussions prior to judging. 


Judging Procedure 

  1. 'Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014' runs from September 08, 2014 – September 21,2014. Judging will take place after the challenge ends.
  2. Each participant will have to judge the list of entries in order to be an active participant for the respective round. Failure to judge the entries will automatically disqualify the entrant from scoring points.
  3. Each participant will receive the list of submissions by email.
  4. Entries will be anonymous.
  5. You are not allowed to rate your own submission.
  6. Rating will follow a specific pattern. Each participant has a total of 7 points to distribute between the tanka prose of their choice. These 7 points may be awarded to tanka  prose as 1, 2 or 3 points each, with 3 points awarded to only one entry from the list. There may be multiple scores of 1 and 2 points each (totaling to 7).   You may add your constructive comments along with your scores. 
  7. All scores will be tallied to determine the winners.
  8. The results of 'Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014' will be announced during the first week of October.
  9. The top three entries will be posted on the website.
  10. Each winning entry will receive a ‘Certificate of Merit’ from Mandy’s Pages. 


Another Garden: Tanka Writings by Jeffrey WoodwardExample of the Rating Procedure:

Distribution of 7 points by participant.

Entry #1    - -
Entry #2    - 3
Entry #3    - -
Entry #4    - 2
Entry #5    - 1
Entry #6    - No rates: Participant's own submission
Entry #7    - 1

 For those interested in commenting on the entries, please read 'How to Write a Constructive Review' before commenting. 

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