Susan Burch and I at Mandy’s Pages hosted our first tanka prose challenge ‘Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014’ during the month of September 2014. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from our readers and fellow poets; nonetheless, the support and excitement of hosting our first ever tanka prose challenge was beyond fun. Susan did a pretty good job of organizing the collection and distribution of entries, and tallied the scores to arrive at the winners. Thank you Susan for taking over these tasks which I will have found tedious at the moment.
Eight contestants submitted their entries to the tanka prose challenge and all of them likewise judged their respective competitors’ submissions.
Before we announce the results, we would like to thank you for your wonderful entries and good sporting spirit.
The first place winner will be awarded a copy of the forthcoming winter 2014 issue of Skylark and the winning tanka prose will be published in the summer 2015 issue of Skylark (courtesy Claire Everett - editor of Skylark and tanka prose editor of Haibun Today)
Thank you Claire - for your support and generous contribution to the winner of this challenge. Your timing was perfect and I believe you will be pleasantly surprised to see who won this challenge. :)
A special thanks also to my friend Kala Ramesh for her Foreword to our very first Tanka Prose Challenge ‘Where Tanka Prose Grows: 2014’. Kala, I love your friendship and willingness to support us even when you are pressed for time. And your spark and cheerfulness never fails to be contagious.
And now for the winners …
by David Terelinck with 16 points (2, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3).
A soft breeze fashions halos of dust motes in the dawning light. The thick crop of lime-green leaves in the fields bodes well for a good harvest. Their prayers to Parvati and Manasa have been answered.
But no amount of prayer will help today.
Silence shatters on the anvil of morning as night’s kohl is quickly replaced with the cinnabar of day. The congregation shuffle about and look up, their footprints creating calligraphies of shame in the dust.
on the branches
such an extravagance
of flowers . . .
the chill of seasons
spinning out of time
Who else notices the elder girl’s colouring would have been perfect for saris of gold silk trimmed with silver and purple thread? Instead she wears cotton, a shalwar kameez the shade of a mango that will never ripen. Her sister’s outfit is a rainbow of red and violet.
But this is not the afterglow from a sun-shower. The storm is yet to come. The anger of the crowd is so densely woven that it cannot be rolled up and stored away until next time.
The morning breeze slowly twirls the bodies on the thin hemp ropes. Tomorrow it could be their daughter. Or perhaps their sister. Murmurs of shock and disbelief spill quietly from the lips of the onlookers. No one remains untouched by this orbiting grief.
fades behind a shiver
of clouds –
a group of women
chanting Kali’s name
[On Wednesday 28 May 2014, villagers gathered around the bodies of two teenage sisters hanging from a tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, India. The two teenage sisters in rural India were raped and killed by attackers who hung their bodies from a mango tree. This became the scene of a silent protest by villagers angry about alleged police inaction in the case.]
David Terelinck, Sydney, AUS
by Hazel Hall with 13 points (2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1).
on floral patterned
an empty vase
once a wedding present
We live in the old double-fronted house where my mother grew up. Further down the street live the Thornes. The two boys are wild and noisy. We're afraid of them. Mr Thorne keeps racing pigeons in the back yard. Mum informs us that he drinks. Mrs Thorne is thin with hair like chaff and a rasping voice. She's not averse to a sweet sherry and usually has a cigarette perched between nervous fingers.
a cough grates over
the smell of toast ---
for lunch again
We've just arrived home from school. Mum calls us.
i want to talk to you girls mrs thorne has put her head in the oven now if you ever feel like that get out of the house do something go to a park and look at the flowers feed the birds but get out of the house
for sale sign
starting to corrode ---
in an unkept garden
over empty cages
Hazel Hall, Australia
by Shloka Shankar with 9 points (1, 3, 3, 2)
My classroom looked larger and wider than usual. Fear does that sometimes. The professor looked intently at me and signaled for me to begin my speech for the rhetoric assignment. My palms and fingers left sweat marks on the A4 sheet that was kept before me. I stuttered out my topic and began to read verbatim from the notes I had made.
“Will books soon be old-fashioned?” I thundered with false confidence. Some of my classmates who were dozing off in the last row were rudely roused by this. Some others giggled and waited for me to go on. My eyes began to blur as I scanned the sheet for my opening statement. I took a deep breath and found my bearings.
Just then, the bell rang.
boxful of books tumble
over each other
dog-eared and stained
Shloka Shankar, Bangalore, India
The tonal difference between the prose and the tanka sparks the reader's reflection on the fate of books, technological advancements, and memory. And the closing image adds emotional weight to the poem.
lend me your ears and I'll sing you a poem
-- paraphrasing The Beatles, "With a Little Help from My Friends", 1967
Perhaps the second line of the tanka could be improved with a slight tweak? There seems to be a clash of syntax in 'Boxful of books tumble' and 'over each other'. Maybe:
spring cleaning ...
boxes of books tumble
over each other (?)
I also like the memory-stained pages --- a fitting end to a well worked piece. I'm placing it second.
Please Note: The comments that you see above have been submitted by the reviewers of these tanka prose entries.
The First Place winner will receive a Certificate of Excellence while the Second and Third Place will both receive a Certificate of Merit each.
Congratulations to the much deserving winners of this initial tanka prose challenge ‘Where Tanka Prose Grows:2014’. Thank you for being part of this challenge and for making this exciting for both Susan and me.
For more details, contact
Mandy’s Pages Tanka Resources