Poetic Form: Tanka

Poetic Form: Tanka

The tanka (or waka) is a classical Japanese poetic form, typically consisting of five lines or units (lines in the Romanized forms). Each line or unit has a specific number of syllables, creating a total pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.

Much like a haiku, the form appears simple. However, brevity is often easier to digest than it is to create. Moreover, the goal of any tanka is to create a specific picture and mood within the reader’s mindscape. The previous poem I wrote for the blog was a tanka. If you feel up to it, give it a try in the comments or link me to your own tankas. I’d love to read my reader’s works.

Poetic Form: Gogyohka

Poetic Form: Gogyohka

Ladies and gentle dragons, I would like to present to you the 2nd easiest poetic form known to mankind: the Gogyohka.

It is literally just a 5 line poem.

That’s it.

No syllable count, no rhymes, nada.

Just 5 lines.

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Originally found in the Japanese Tanka (to be discussed later because Tankas are awesome, so very very awesome), and created by one Enta Kusakabe, gogyohka’s are short and free. Freedom is the name of the game.

That being said, the line length can vary from one word (or letter) to lines as long as a full printed page. However, this is where the issues can come up. As a rule of thumb for poetry, the shorter the lines, the heavy they are. Emphasis is drawn by the line break and how and when those breaks are made determine the interpretation by the reader.

So, if you find you struggle with line breaks, give the gogyohka a try and see how short or long or medium lines work for you.