Winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2017

One month has passed since the Annual Tanka Contest 2017 at Mandy’s Pages, and it is time to announce the winners.  My gratitude goes out to all the contestants who participated this year, sending in a total of 84 entries, and to the excellent judge, Debbbie Strange.   Extra thanks go out to Pamela and Debbie who have contributed towards the prizes. 

The Prizes are as follows:

First Prize : USD 100.00 + Books + Certificate + a tanka bag

Second Prize: USD 50 + Certificate

Third Prize: Certificate

(Cash Prizes sponsored by Mandy's Pages)


Debbie Strange donates copies of the following books ...

  • Warp and Weft : Tanka Threads, Debbie Strange
  • More Grows in a Crooked Row - Tanka Conversations of Angela Leuck with 15 Poets
  • Bright Stars 1 Tanka Anthology, edited by M. Kei

Poet Pamela A. Babusci awards the first prize winner a copy of A Solitary Woman.

Blue Butterfly Bags sponsors a  tanka bag for the first prize winner. 

Winners of the Annual Tanka Contest 2017

 Debbie’s Judging Report 

I extend my thanks to all of the entrants for entrusting me with their work, and to Amanda Dcosta for giving me the opportunity to judge this annual tanka contest. I look forward to discovering the names of the winning writers, and I offer my sincere congratulations!

For further information regarding the composition of tanka, I encourage future submitters to read the instructive articles provided on this site, and to follow the astute advice and recommendations of previous judges.

(Debbie Strange)


First Place


iridescent clouds . . .

the unexpected way

you tell me

how much I’ve changed

your life


Christine L. Villa

This finely crafted tanka demonstrates the poet’s considerable expertise, and met the judging criteria on every level. Its first line captures our attention, with an ellipsis inviting us to pause and reflect on the beautiful image. There is a musical repetition of sounds between “iridescent” and “unexpected” in the first two lines, while the third line imparts a feeling of anticipation. The fourth line introduces dreaming room, and draws readers into the joy that is revealed in the final line.


Second Place


one of us

turns them up, the other down –

venetian blinds

direct the morning sun

and our conversation


Susan Constable 

The writer of this tanka displays great skill and attention to detail. The first two lines evoke moody undercurrents of emotional tension that build throughout the work. I applaud this poet’s use of “venetian blinds” as a metaphorical hinge that unites the two parts of the poem.


Third Place


midsummer day

longer than ever

my shadow


far behind


Hifsa Ashraf

While this tanka may be interpreted in a straightforward manner, it also deftly creates an underlying sense of urgency. The phrase “longer than ever” incorporates dual meanings, and the ellipsis before “falls” conveys the concrete impression of a shadow.


Honorable Mentions

(in no particular order)

I chose the following tanka to illustrate the subjectivity inherent in any judging process:


in garden weeds

a snake’s molted skin


dead stalks to green sprig

my past binds to the tender now


Jari Thymian

The brilliant final line of this tanka reinforces the juxtaposition of the poet’s inner and outer worlds. The near rhyme between “weeds” and “weaves’” might be perceived as a slight distraction when read aloud.



the purple shawl of night

slipping from my shoulders

I rise and

answer my mistress

the sea


M. Kei 

This tanka’s elegant imagery integrates visual and sensual undertones by employing the “sea as mistress” concept. Moving the conjunction “and” might aurally enhance line three by allowing a little more breathing room.



Congratulations to all the winners and to those who made the Honorable Mention list. Thank you once again, to all you participants, and especially to Debbie for sharing her time and astute insight in judging this contest. Stay tuned for the Tanka Prose contest “Where Tanka Prose Grows”, due to start in September 2017 here at Mandy’s Pages.