Saturday, May 28, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Vapours Haiku by Angelee Deodhar

English Original

between us
vapours from the teacups
autumn chill

Modern Haiku, 31:3, Fall 2000

Angelee Deodhar

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)

Bio Sketch

Angelee Deodhar of Chandigarh (India) was an eye surgeon by profession as well as a haiku poet, translator, and artist. Her haiku/haiga had been published internationally .She didn't have her own website.To promote haiku in India, she had translated six books of haiku from English to Hindi.

Friday, May 27, 2022

To the Lighthouse: Destabilization of Tanka Assumptions

(Section 4 of "The Problem of Tanka : Definition and Differentiation," which was first published in Atlas Poetica, 18, Summer 2014 and reprinted by kind permission of NeverEnding Story contributor, M. Kei)

4. Destabilization of Tanka Assumptions 

4.1 Modern English Tanka 

The publication of the journal Modern English Tanka (MET), beginning in 2006, destabilized the world of late 20th century tanka. Denis M. Garrison, a long time poet and editor of short form poetry, founded MET as a deliberate escape from the orthodoxies of tanka. In the inaugural issue, Garrison wrote in his editorial, 

It’s time to write, read, critique, and study our English tanka, per se, which presupposes the skillful use of our living language rather than some faux-Japanese-English [. . .] Modern English Tanka is dedicated to publishing and promoting fine English tanka—both traditional and innovative verse of high quality—in order to assimilate the best of the Japanese uta/waka/tanka genres into a continuously developing English short verse tradition. [ . . .] It is not the goal of Modern English Tanka to either authoritatively define English tanka or sponsor any particular formula or template. 42

For the next three years, an outpouring of tanka of all kinds filled the 250 pages of each issue of Modern English Tanka (MET) four times a year. Publishing approximately 500 poems per volume, the roughly 6000 tanka published by MET provided an outlet for tanka that had previously been kept in drawers. One of the frequent contributors was Sanford Goldstein, the master of English-language tanka. Although he had previously published several chapbooks and was co-editor with Kenneth Tamemura of the short-lived journal Five Lines Down, MET gave his work a wide exposure that served to cement his reputation as the leading tanka poet working in English. He wasn’t the only one. Several poets who couldn’t get published under the old regime rocketed to prominence after publishing in MET. 

Garrison didn’t stop there. He established Modern English Tanka Press (MET Press) to publish additional journals, collections and anthologies. The MET stable of journals included Modern Haiga : Graphic Poetry (MDHG); Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (PRUJ); Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (ATPO); Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose (MHTP); Concise Delight Magazine of Short Poetry (CNDL); and Ambrosia : Journal of Fine Haiku. When health problems forced him to curtail his commitment to poetry, Atlas Poetica and Prune Juice found new homes and continued publishing in the hybrid print and online editions he pioneered. The other journals closed, and tanka was poorer for it. 

Another paradigm changer was the anthology Fire Pearls : Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart (FRPL) published by Keibooks in 2006. Edited without dogma as to form or content, Fire Pearls was the first of the post-New Wave anthologies, the first thematic anthology, and the first sequenced anthology in English. 43 The only previous book length sequence was Jun Fujita’s Tanka : Poems in Exile (1923), although there were some chapbooks, such as Goldstein’s At the Hut of the Small Mind44 Prior to Fire Pearls, anthologies were usually organized alphabetically by poet’s name. Fire Pearls divided nearly four hundred poems into five seasonal categories. Within each category, poems were sequenced to create relationships. 

Fire Pearls was followed by a series of anthologies published by MET Press, including The Five Hole Flute (FHFL) (sequences), Landfall : Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka (LNFL), Five Lines Down : A Landmark in English Tanka (FVLD) (an omnibus of the journal), The Tanka Prose Anthology (TKPA), The Ash Moon Anthology : Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka (ASHM), Streetlights : Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka (STLT), Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volumes 1–3 (TAK5:1–3) (TAK5:4 was published by Keibooks), as well as collections by established and emerging poets. MET Press also brought out Jun Fujita : Tanka Pioneer, a collection of all of Fujita’s poetry in one omnibus edition with an introduction that traces the establishment of tanka in English in the early 20th century. MET Press also published Goldstein’s Four Decades on My Tanka Road, an omnibus of the master’s previous hard to find chapbooks, Alexis Rotella’s Lip Prints, and others. 

Garrison also provided technical assistance and mentoring to various poets, editors, and small presses who were able to copy the method he pioneered to publish poetry: print-on-demand (POD) publishing combined with online editions. He demonstrated that having a free online edition did not hurt print sales, but provided tens of thousands of readers the opportunity to enjoy and learn about tanka. The print circulations of Anglophone tanka journals (with the exception of Japan’s The Tanka Journal (TTJ)) are minuscule, numbering only a few hundred subscribers. It is the online journals and websites that collectively reach as many as a hundred thousand readers a year. 

In the ensuing years numerous projects have come to fruition in the hands of a variety of editors and poets, but covering those developments in depth will be deferred to this author’s History of Tanka in English. What is important is the sheer mass of MET Press publication. It was not just a shot across the bow of New Wave tanka—it was an entire broadside. The challenge would not go unanswered. 

Established journals were unwavering in their commitment to their editorial ideals, but they could not prevent new journals from being founded, so they had to compete for readers and submissions from a much more diverse and demanding audience. Some of them folded. So did some of the new venues. Blow back came from various quarters, sometimes from established poets who passed judgment, claiming that not only were some poems not tanka, they weren’t even poetry! Most of the criticism was informal via email discussion groups and similar forums. On the other hand, some established poets, such as Alexis Rotella, who had been publishing Japaniform poetry since the 1970s, embraced the new possibilities. Rotella founded Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka precisely because she wanted to “get things moving.” (45) 

4.2 S-L-S-L-L as ‘Traditional’ Tanka 

The formal response came in the summer of 2009 in the form of a jointly authored article by Amelia Fielden, Robert Wilson, and ironically, Denis M. Garrison. They published “A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.” It appeared in both Wilson’s journal, Simply Haiku (SH), and in Garrison’s Modern English Tanka (MET). 

While there are linguistic and orthographic differences between Japanese and English that cannot be fully resolved, we believe that it is possible to follow the centuries-old waka/ tanka formal poetic tradition to a substantial and meaningful degree. We do not seek to define nor deal with avant-garde innovations based on tanka in this paper, nor do we seek to restrain poetic experimentation by any poet. 46 

They laid out seven “essential guidelines for writing ‘Traditional Tanka in English’ in the ideal form,” 47 which include but are not limited to a set syllable count of 19–31 English syllables, a set pattern of lines in the form of short-long-shortlong-long with an ideal syllable pattern of 3-5-3-5-5 but permitting minor variations, a stop to end each line (“five phrases on five lines”), and a strong fifth line that should not be shorter than the others. They accepted various subjects and treatments with the exception of polemics or didactic works. 

My own analysis of syllables in a tanka leads me to believe that their proffered syllable count is too long to approximate the usual Japanese rhythm. I recommend 17–26 syllables, but I accept considerable variation. This is because the English syllable is far more dynamic than a Japanese unit of sound. “Radio diva” is five syllables, but “stretched” is only one. 

Kozue Uzawa, a Japanese-Canadian tanka poet, editor, and translator, recommends twenty syllables. 

As for syllable counting, I personally like to use about 20 English syllables because this shortness is very close to Japaneses [sic] tanka. If you don’t like to count syllables, just count words. Use 10 ~ 15 words, or up to 20 words at maximum. 48

This was adopted and announced as editorial policy for Gusts, the journal of Tanka Canada, in issue 7, Spring/Summer, 2007. Uzawa, along with Amelia Fielden, edited and translated the highly regarded Ferris Wheel : 101 Modern and Contemporary Tanka in 2006. Her own poetry reflects this preference for twenty syllables. 

white pulp 
of a baby pumpkin 
no smell 
no taste, simply soft 
seeds not yet formed 

Kozue Uzawa 49

Saeko Ogi is a tanka poet and translator who was born in Japan. She currently lives in Australia. In an interview with Guy Simser, she describes tanka in English as commonly having a pattern of 3-4-3-4-4 syllables, or eighteen syllables total—less than the lower bound set by Wilson-Fielden-Garrison. When translating English to Japanese, she renders them as 5-7-5-7-7. 50 Although Ogi provides no evidence in support of her contention that “most” tanka in English are 3-4-3-4-4 in pattern, that someone who is a highly experienced poet and translator regards it as normative shows yet again that there are legitimately varying opinions regarding proper form in English. 

Regardless of the various pronouncements made, when we look at tanka as it is actually written by highly qualified and well-regarded poets, we see immense variation. Hypometric and hypermetric lines are common. For example, Sanford Goldstein’s tanka range from twelve to thirty-six syllables in length. Goldstein quotes Takuboku in an editorial in Five Lines Down,

Some may criticize us by saying this will destroy the rhythm of tanka itself. No matter. If the conventional rhythm has ceased to suit our mood, why hesitate to change it? If the limitations of thirty-one syllables is felt inconvenient, we should freely use lines with extra syllables. 51

In fact, it is not entirely clear that the Japanese count “syllables” at all, as per Richard Gilbert. That is why advocates of the “traditional” style have offered S-L-S-L-L as an alternative. The trouble is, short and long what? sound? printed line length? absolute or relative length? 

Not only do English syllables differ in sound, they also differ in appearance. Examining the formatting of numerous S-L-S-L-L tanka suggests that the de facto definition of short and long has nothing to do with prosody but is an artifact of formatting. Thus numbers and symbols are used for short lines that when spoken aloud are longer than their printed length, sometimes even longer than the poem’s “long” lines. 

We can see the artificiality of this dictate when it results in a mangled line for no good reason except to conform to the format. 

this moon 
watching her dance 
on the 
shorelines as if 
the stars exist 

Robert D. Wilson 52 

Wilson isn’t usually as egregious as this, but it’s hard to find a better example of why it’s wrong to let the format dictate the line breaks. The real poem is: 

this moon 
watching her dance 
on the shorelines 
as if 
the stars exist 

“As if ” can justify a line of its own, but “on the” cannot. The poem has been forced into conformity with Wilson’s edict regarding S-L-SL-L. The arbitrary shape is an artifact of formatting and does not conform to units of prosody and meaning. 

Wilson prepended the SH edition of “Traditional tanka” with an introduction that was even longer than the article. He offered his own definition of tanka: 

A 5 lined poem that makes use of breaks (cutting words: i.e., punctuation or ellipsis, whenever necessary), utilizes a meter similar to that found in Japanese tanka, makes use of Japanese aesthetics, follows as much as possible the S-L-S-L-L schemata, makes use of juxtaposition as needed, and is not a haiku or senryu masquerading as a tanka such as a five lined poem using one or two words per line. 53 Wilson’s definition contradicts the paper he co-authored. In particular, if the paper’s ideal for short lines is only three syllables, they must, of necessity, be composed of one, two, or three words. Prohibiting lines of one or two words imposes an unreasonable restriction to the form, and indeed, Wilson cannot mean that because the two examples he offers each have lines composed of one or two words. Maybe what Wilson meant is that a line should not be composed of one or two syllables, but that’s not what he wrote. 

Wilson admires a poem by Carole MacRury, 

through my childhood . . . 
until I wake 
to forgive and kiss 
my dying father goodbye 

Carole MacRury 54 

“Sleep-walking” is a line composed of a single word that demonstrates why counting anything— words, syllables, or stresses—is a problematic way to compose tanka in English. 

The core of Wilson’s definition is the S-L-SL-L format because the rest of the items are optional. A five lined poem that uses breaks “as needed” contradicts the recommended full stops in the “traditional” article. Likewise terms such as “a meter similar to that found in Japanese” and “makes use of juxtaposition as needed” provide a lot of wiggle room. His definition boils down to poem written in S-L-S-L-L with Japanese aesthetics. 

Wilson’s own Simply Haiku is the only venue that implements his view of tanka. Of course that is his editorial prerogative, but as long as his own publications are the only ones to embody it, it represents a personal point of view, not a definition. (Cattails also espouses S-L-S-L-L, but has not yet published its first issue as of this writing.) Gusts shares some of the concepts (Amelia Fielden served on the editorial committee at the time) 55, but Gusts has its own distinctive editorial voice. Editor Kozue Uzawa’s preference for shorter tanka results in a lighter, suppler tanka. 

As soon as the “traditional” definition appeared, it was roundly challenged. Numerous poets and editors, including this author, disagreed with it, and disagreed even with the notion that the form of tanka described qualifies as “traditional.” There is no “traditional tanka” in English. A wide variety of adaptions have been made over the decades and they are all valid approaches. None enjoys consensus. Harking back to Hartmann and Fujita, we can see that they are both “traditional” in the sense that their approaches have persisted over time and been followed by a variety of poets and editors. Neither of them conforms to the definition given in Wilson, Fielden, and Garrison. Both are far older and have the virtue not only of longevity, but of being created by poets who were native speakers of Japanese and well-educated in both Japanese and Western literature. In other words, S-L-S-L-L is just one of many legitimate adaptions. 

Translating tanka from Japanese to English is no easy thing. An entire book is devoted to the subject, Nakagawa Atsuo’s Tanka in English : In Pursuit of World Tanka (1987, 1990). It gives extensive attention to problems of structure and adaption, which in turn provides a number of linguistically valid methods of translation. It logically follows that the same diverse methods are also legitimate methods for composing tanka in English. 

4.3 The Kyoka Challenge 

Beginning in 2006, kyoka was offered as an alternative outside the tasteful parameters of the New Wave. Articles and poetry published in MET stimulated interest. In 2006, a poem labeled “kyoka” appeared in Moonset, Volume 2:1, Spring, 2006. Prior to that, two poems labeled “kyoka-style” were published in The Tanka Anthology (2003). The Kyoka Mad Poems email list was founded as a workshop in 2006 and continues to this day. 

In 2009, Robin Gill published Mad in Translation, a massive compendium of kyoka translated from the Japanese, the first and only of its sort. It was followed by the Mad in Translation Reader, featuring a selection from the original. Prior to that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Viking Press translated and published two kyoka books illustrated by Utamaro, the famous woodblock print artist, A Chorus of Birds (1981) and Songs of the Garden (1984). They circulated principally among art lovers, not tanka poets. Kyoka was also mentioned in some of the scholarly anthologies, such as those by Donald Keene. 

The kyoka below from Mad in Translation is an example of how kyoka could parody the classical waka. 

Though this body, I know, 
is a thing of no substance, 
must it fade, alas, 
so swiftly, 
like a soundless fart? 56

Alexis Rotella, well known for writing both tanka and senryu, embraced kyoka. In 2008 she published a collection of her own poetry, Looking for a Prince : A Collection of Senryu and Kyoka. She also founded Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (PRUJ) with its first issue appearing early in 2009. It later spun off from MET Press and came under the editorship of Liam Wilkinson, then Terri French. 

Rotella is the best and most consistent poet writing kyoka in English. Her poem below shares a sensibility with the kyoka above, but it is a thoroughly modern poem. 

Old man— 
first he asks 
to die, 
then for 
a ham sandwich. 

Alexis Rotella 57 

Also founded in 2008, Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka (ATPO) (originally Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka) expressly included kyoka in its submission guidelines. Thus two journals came into existence in 2008 that saw kyoka as part of their editorial vision. In 2010, Richard Stevenson published Windfall Apples : Tanka and Kyoka. In 2011, Atlas Poetica published “25 Tanka for Children,” a special feature online. In spite of the name, a number of the poems were kyoka and exhibited a playfulness of language not often found in tanka. In 2012, Pieces of Her Mind : Women Find Their Voices in Centuries Old Forms, edited by Alvin Thomas Ethington, appeared. It featured haiga, senryu, and kyoka by women. 

Japanese American poets had been writing tanka on humorous or even vulgar subject matter for years. 

I cross a field the fine autumn day and cut a fart 
it sounds dry—tomorrow should be a fine day too 

Konoshima Kisaburo 58 translated by David Callner 

Anglophone advocates of kyoka saw it as an avenue to escape the mannerism of New Wave tanka, but although kyoka continues to appear, it remains a minority interest. It did not revolutionize the tanka world. Nonetheless, because tanka and kyoka have exactly the same form in Japanese but are different genres, it explicates why form alone is not a sufficient definition for tanka. The existence of kyoka also points out that the content and style of Anglophone tanka not yet broad as advocatesclaim,althoug(are) hgreatstrides(as) have been made in recent years. 

4.4 The Gogyohka and Gogyoshi Alternatives

In the early 1990s in Japan, Kusakabe Enta invented gogyohka, a five line poem derived from tanka. It scrapped the sanjuichi form and defined itself by writing short poems five lines; “gogyohka” simply means “five line(on) poem.” 59 Gogyohka consciously rejected tanka, but tanka aesthetics permeate the work published so far in English. On the other hand, gogyohka encourages sincerity of expression, so works that would be considered naive or undeveloped by English tanka readers are considered fresh and direct when published as gogyohka. Starting in 1994, Enta established a Gogyohka Society in Japan and began publishing the Gogyohka Journal. 60 In 2006, his book Gogyohka was published in English. He held the first Gogyohka Conference in 2008. In 2006, he started holding workshops in the United States. This was followed by the formation of a Gogyohka Society for North America 61, and the establishment of the Gogyohka Junction forum online. A handful of publications in English followed. Starting in about 2010, gogyohka caught the attention of tanka poets on Twitter. It became a fad with many experimenting with the form. The #gogyohka hashtag rapidly came to outnumber the #tanka hashtag. 62 Many poets tried gogyohka and declared that it offered greater freedom than tanka. Although significant changes and expansions had occurred in the type of tanka being published in English, the fascination that gogyohka held for tanka poets illustrates an ongoing disaffection, even after those limits had largely fallen away. 

Disputes among poets erupted with a constant discussion about how to differentiate gogyohka from tanka in English. Enta had not been aware of the indigenous English-language tanka movement before he began his workshops, and it was difficult to distinguish gogyohka that didn’t count sound units from contemporary English-language tanka that didn’t count syllables. Some advocates made the “breath” the basis of the line for gogyohka, but it is not clear whether such arguments required the lines to be end-stopped. If so, this is a difference from tanka, but if not, there is no discernible difference. The two have come to an equivalent place via different routes. 

Debate erupted between Taro Aizu, a former student of gogyohka, and Enta. Aizu advocated an even freer implementation of gogyohka. Enta trademarked the word “gogyohka” in Japan. When word of Enta’s trademark reached English speakers, ATPO switched to using the public domain term “gogyoshi” in order to avoid infringing on Enta’s trademark. A flurry erupted among Anglophone poets, but the term “gogyoshi” did not catch on with them. Gogyohka continues to be a popular hashtag on Twitter, but interest in gogyohka and gogyoshi has waned among tanka poets. 

In 2011, Taro Aizu published his “Declaration of Gogyoshi” 63 in the pages of ATPO. Aizu embraced a broad view of the world’s five line forms of poetry, including Western and Eastern forms. He sought some sort of unification among them, although what he envisioned was not exactly clear. He also republished his earlier book, The Lovely Earth, in English translation. 

The following poem appears in The Lovely Earth and embodies the lack of adornment prized in gogyohka and gogyoshi. It resembles the approach of poets in Sounds from the Unknown, where kokoro (“heart,” i.e., sincerity) is valued, 

Is my cat 
really dead? 
I caress 
her throat 
very softly 

Aizu Taro 64 

Gogyohka and gogyoshi failed to establish any English-language journals, and aside from the acceptance of the forms in ATPO, didn’t make any inroads among existing journals or websites. Gogyohka and gogyoshi attracted the attention of far more poets than kyoka did, but it had even less impact on tanka. 

4.5 Small Issues 

This article has explored major developments but omitted several smaller ones, such as the tankeme (2-3-2-3-3 beats), word tanka (one word on each line for five lines), shaped tanka (a tanka arranged to form a shape, such as a cross or circle), and other tanka adaptions. Experimentation continues. For example, Professor Stephen Carter, the well-known translator, has tried exploding tanka translations on up to ten lines. 65 Others, such as Marlene Mountain, have tried writing tanka in English on two lines. Matsukaze has been experimenting with three line and one line tanka. Edward Seidensticker advocated a two line tanka in iambic pentameter. 66 Most recently, Chase Fire has founded the online journal Skyline, a Journal of Modern and Experimental Tanka to provide a venue for tanka experimentation. (Skyline has not yet published an issue as of this writing.) Some have advocated the use of rhyme, quatrain, or other methods. None of these smaller efforts has garnered widespread interest or spawned any journals aside from Skyline. 

4.6 Tanka As It Is 

The most comprehensive attempt to survey tanka as it is found was the Take Five anthology series. Each year for four years, the editorial team read all tanka published in English to select approximately three hundred poems for inclusion in an annual volume, along with several pieces of tanka prose and tanka sequences. In the final year, the team read in excess of eighteen thousand poems in more than a hundred and eighty venues. 67 Media ranged from print journals to poet blogs to symphonic music to chapbooks to videos and more. The four volumes, covering material published 2008–2011, gives a valuable snapshot of tanka of the modern era. What emerges is a portrait of a highly diverse field of skilled poets working with a variety of techniques to create poetry that is supple, muscular, and insightful. No single approach dominates. 


42. Garrison, Denis M., ed. “I’ll Tell You About Onions.” Modern English Tanka 1:1. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, Autumn, 2006, p. 1–3. 
43. Goldstein, Sanford. At the Hut of the Small Mind. Gualala, CA: AHA Books, 1992. < hut1book.htm> Accessed 30 June 2013. 
44. Goldstein, Sanford. At the Hut of the Small Mind. Gualala, CA: AHA Books, 1992. < hut1book.htm> Accessed 30 June 2013. 
45. Rotella, Alexis. ‘Editor’s Note.’ Prune Juice : A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka 1. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, Winter, 2009. < journal> Accessed 20 October 2011. 
46. Fielden, Amelia; Denis M. Garrison, & Robert Wilson. “A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.” Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. <http://> Accessed 20 October 2011. 
47. Ibid. 
48. Uzawa, Kozue. ‘What is Tanka?’ Tanka Canada. <> Accessed 17 September 2012. 
49. In Gusts : Contemporary Tanka 13. Burnaby, BC: Tanka Canada, Spring/Summer, 2012, p 15. 
50. Ishikawa, Takuboku. Quoted in Goldstein, Sanford. ‘From This Side of Five Lines Down.’ Five Lines Down : A Landmark in English Tanka. Denis M. Garrison, ed. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 20. 
51. Ishikawa, Takuboku. Quoted in Goldstein, Sanford. ‘From This Side of Five Lines Down.’ Five Lines Down : A Landmark in English Tanka. Denis M. Garrison, ed. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 20. 
52. Wilson, Robert D. A Lousy Mirror. 31 March 2012. <> Accessed 17 September 2012. 
53. Wilson, Robert. ‘Introduction to A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.’ Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. < SHv7n2/features/Ideal.html> Accessed 20 October 2011. 
54. MacRury, Carole. In Wilson, Robert. ‘Introduction to A Definition of the ideal form of traditional tanka written in English.’ Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 7:2. Summer, 2009. <http://> Accessed 17 September 2012. 
55. Fielden, Amelia. Gusts : Contemporary Tanka 5. Burnaby, BC: Tanka Canada, Spring/Summer, 2007, p1. 
56. Gill, Robin, trans. and ed. Mad in Translation. Key Biscayne, FL: Paraverse Press, 2009, p 455. 
57. Ibid. 
58. Konoshima, Kisaburo. David Callner, trans. Simply Haiku : A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry, 7:1. Spring, 2009. < SHv7n1/features/Callner.html> Accessed 17 September 2012. 
59. Enta, Kusakabe, ed. Gogyohka. (Second Edition) Matthew Lane & Elizabeth Phaire, trans. Tokyo, JP: Shisei-sha, 2009 [2006], p 20. 
60. Ibid, p 21. 
61. ‘Mr. Enta Kusakabe, Founder.’ The Gogyohka Society. 14 April 2011. <—1324364379&page_url=//www.fivelinepoetry.c0/about_founder_Enta_Kusakabe.html&page_last_updated=2011-04-14T06:58:34&firstName=Enta&lastName=Kusakabe>. Accessed 17 September 2012. 
62. Kei, M. ‘The Topsy Turvy World of Micropoetry on Twitter.’ Atlas Poetica 9. Summer, 2011, p 56. 
63. Aizu, Taro. ‘Declaration of Gogyoshi.’ Atlas Poetica 10. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, Autumn, 2011, p78. 
64. Aizu, Taro. The Lovely Earth. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Enterprises, 2011, p 6. 
65. Carter, Stephen, ed. Unforgotten Dreams : Poems by the Zen Monk Shotetsu. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1997. 
66. Goldstein, Sanford. ‘Tanka As Open Form.’ Five Lines Down: A Landmark in English Tanka. Baltimore, MD: MET Press, 2007, p 95. 
67. Kei, M. et al, eds. Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2012, p 10.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Newspaper Haiku by Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic

English Original

craning their necks
towards his newspaper
fellow passengers

Chasing the Clouds, 2005

Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic was born in 1956, lives in the town of Ivanic Grad, Croatia, edits the magazine IRIS, translates and writes poetry, humorous sketches, short stories, haiku and haibun. So far she has published twenty books and translated a number of collections and anthologies into English. And her poetry has received thirty awards.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Room of My Own: "Thoughts and Prayers" Tanka

written in response to the Texas school shooting: 

God doesn't give you
more than you can handle ...
in dim light
these "thoughts and prayers" sharp
like a thousand bullets

FYI: Thoughts and Prayers, Urban DictionaryAn expression of indifference to tragedy intended to seem empathetic.

Hollow gestures trivializing loss.

"Yes, I know you want action to keep shooting sprees from happening to someone else. I'll send thoughts and prayers."

-- Dex Novice February 11, 2018 

NPR, May 25: In the 10 years since Sandy Hook, gun laws in the U.S. haven't changed much. And  Economist, May 25: The spate of gun violence shows American exceptionalism at its worst: Texas and the country are weeping, again. But will anyone act?


written in response to The Wrap, May 25: The View Hosts Rage Against GOP on Guns: If ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Were Real, ‘You’d Have Done Something’

thoughts and prayers ...
another round of pop, pop, pop
loud and louder 

FYI: Time, May 25: School Shootings Confirm That Guns Are the Religion of the Right, written by Samuel L. Perry,  sociologists of religion and co-author of The Flag And The Cross

Sometimes calls for America to return to God are couched in the language of consolation. Especially after a mass shooting. When 19 children were killed at school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, tweeted that “It is in times like these that we should, as individuals, communities, and as a nation, turn to God for comfort and healing.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia followed deflection — “Our nation needs to take a serious look at the state of mental health today” – with denial: “We don’t need more gun control We need to return to God.”

There’s a reason we always hear calls for Christian nationalism rather than for common sense gun legislation from the right. As we have shown in our research, guns are practically an element of worship in the church of white Christian nationalism. Gun rights thus must be defended at all costs.

Along with “thoughts and prayers”—a response so hollow it has become a meme for contempt — Christian nationalist calls like Greene’s are often accompanied by warnings not to “politicize the deaths,” as worship leader and MAGA advocate Sean Feucht put it in his own tweet: “We need to call on God. We need him back in schools. We need him to heal our country. He is our only hope.” Evangelical Christian and Lieutenant Gov. of Texas Dan Patrick went on the Tucker Carlson show hours after the massacre to say “We gotta unify in prayer. We have to unify in faith…This was a country founded on faith, Tucker. And that’s why together we have to come together as a people. Don’t politicize it. Don’t point fingers.”

...Rep. Brian Babin, a Texas Republican, told a Newsmax interviewer “The United States of America has always had guns. It’s our history. We were built on the Judeo-Christian foundation and with guns.”...

And because guns are essential to America’s core identity for the right, gun rights are held sacred above every other right. That’s not hyperbole. We conducted another representative survey of over 1,000 Americans in August 2021, giving respondents a list of rights provided in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution – the Bill of Rights. Among whites who said America should be a Christian nation, more than 4 in 10 named the right to keep and bear arms as the most important right. Not freedom of speech. Not even freedom of religion. Gun rights.

There is a logic at work here. As we show in our recent book The Flag and the Cross, white Christian nationalism is ultimately about controlling who gets access to cultural and political power, and thus is fundamentally anti-democratic. Access to guns is about protecting the freedoms of white conservatives to suppress disorder. This is why, among white Americans who believe the United States should be a Christian nation, 82% believe “The best way to stop bad guys with guns is to have good guys with guns.” The goal isn’t to rid the world of gun violence. The goal is to suppress “bad guy violence” with righteous violence—our violence. And that requires guns....

What’s needed is a coalition of American politicians and citizens—secular and religious—who value the protection of innocent human life above power. Without that, the ritual will continue: Horrific deaths, followed by thoughts and prayers, calls to return to God, and no change.

And Global News, May 25: Agony and anger rise in aftermath of Uvalde, Texas school shooting

2022 School Shootings in the USA:

27 shootings with injuries or deaths

2022 Mass Shootings in the USA:

213 mass shootings ( 1.5/ day average) 

Added: This Brave New World, XLI
written in response to Poet and activist Amanda Gorman's poem, The truth is, one nation under guns

shoot better 
if someone's breaking
into your home ...
flanked by two giant flags
the sheriff repeats loudly

FYI: ABC News, April 26: Florida sheriff: "Shoot if someone's breaking into your home:" A Florida sheriff invited a homeowner who shot at a would-be robber to attend a gun safety course to “learn to shoot a lot better” to “save the taxpayers money.

Added: This Brave New World, XLII
written in response to NPR, May 26: The NRA says its Houston convention will "reflect on" the Uvalde school shooting

"150 years strong" 
in giant white letters
at the entrance
the NRA member repeats,
it's a demon control problem

FYI: Politico, May 27: 'It's straight out of a playbook': At NRA convention, conspiracy theories abound. To many attendees, the mass shooting in Uvalde was about mental illness and dark forces pushing their own agendas. 

And the heartfelt and thought-provoking reflection from Amanda Gorman 

The 24-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate tweeted about Tuesday's mass shooting, saying, "It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn't just insanity – it's inhumanity. The truth is, one nation under guns." 

Schools scared to death.
The truth is, one education under desks,
Stooped low from bullets;
That plunge when we ask
Where our children
Shall live
& how
& if

-- excerpted from CBC News, May 26: Amanda Gorman pens poem in wake of Texas school shooting: "The truth is, one education under desks"

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

One Man's Maple Moon: Battle Tanka by Gary Blankenship

English Original

black feathers
scattered along the driveway
a crow
who lost a battle with cats
or went beak to beak with a mate’s mate

Bright Stars, 1, 2014

Gary Blankenship

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Gary Blankenship was a retired federal employee whose avocation was poetry, especially Tang poetry. He was author of A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration, a sometime poet, editor, and publisher of MindFire and its companion, FireWeed.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Indigo Night Haiku by Robert Epstein

English Original

indigo night
in the cricket's song
no birth no death

Robert Epstein

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Robert Epstein, a psychologist and haiku poet/anthologist, lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has edited four anthologies:  The Breath of SurrenderDreams Wander OnThe Temple Bell Stops; and Now This.  He has written two books of haiku:  A Walk Around Spring Lake; and Checkout Time is Noon, as well as a chapbook titled, What My Niece Said in His Head:  Haiku and Senryu

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Room of My Own: Brown Hand Tanka

don't touch me
your hand looks dirty …
gaping at his injured boss
he leaves his own brown hand
suspended in midair

Addedreading between the lives and writing between the lines, XVI

for Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: The truth is we can survive our lives, but not our skin. But you know this already.

drinking with me
this grey-haired migrant bemoans
his skin color
the first thing he knew of 
and yet knew nothing about


the monks chanting
at a new temple
in this promised land
his Chinese eyes shiny
as gongs resound in his heart

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Grave Digger Haiku by George Swede

English Original

spring morning grave digger whistling

George Swede

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

George Swede's most recent collections of haiku are Almost Unseen (Decatur, IL: Brooks Books, 2000)Joy In Me Still (Edmonton: Inkling Press, 2010) and micro haiku: three to nine syllables (Inspress, 2014). He is a former editor of Frogpond: Journal of the Haiku Society of America (2008-2012) and a former Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives (2008-2009).

Friday, May 20, 2022

One Man's Maple Moon: Storm Cellar Tanka by Denis M. Garrison

English Original

we rise again
from the storm cellar …
only traces
of the house remain
yet all of us are home

Denis M. Garrison

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

我們再次爬出並站起來 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

我们再次爬出并站起来 ...

Bio Sketch

Denis M. Garrison, from Iowa, now lives in Maryland. His childhood was spent in Japan, youth in Europe, Africa and western Pacific. His poetry’s widely published. Garrison’s print collections include First Winter Rain, Eight Shades of BlueHidden RiverSailor in the Rain and Other Poems, and Fire Blossoms.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Shared Driveway Haiku by David Cobb

English Original

leaves falling --
the shared driveway
suddenly all mine

Blithe Spirit, 6:1, 1996

David Cobb

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

樹葉紛紛飄落 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

树叶纷纷飘落 --

Bio Sketch

David Cobb was a British educational writer and champion of English-language haiku and haibun genres. He founded the British Haiku Society in 1990 and served as its president from 1997 to 2002. He won four Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards, and the 1997 collection of haibun, Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore, established him as the "initiator of the haibun in Britain."

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

One Man’s Maple Moon: Goodwill Bin Tanka by Peggy Heinrich

English Original

the sweater I knit him
into the Goodwill bin ...
a snow plow 
clears the road

Forward Moving Shadows, 2012

Peggy Heinrich

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

的收集箱 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

的收集箱 ...

Bio Sketch

Peggy Heinrich's haiku had appeared in almost every haiku journal both nationally and internationally and in many anthologies. Awards include Top Prize in the Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum English Haiku Contest in both 2009 and 2010. Peeling an Orange, a collection of her haiku with photographs by John Bolivar, was published in 2009 by Modern English Tanka Press. Forward Moving Shadows, a collection of her tanka, with photographs by John Bolivar, was published in 2012.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Poetic Musings: River and Sea Haiku by Kala Ramesh

I dip my feet
in a river the river
joins the sea

Moongarlic, 4, May 2016

Kala Ramesh

Commentary: The way I see it, three totally different images weave in and out of a 12-word poem:

I dip my feet
in a river

in a river the river

the river
joins the sea

Think back to the linking equation mentioned earlier (verse C links to preceding verse B and shifts away from verse A). In this poem, we have the feet at one end of the equation (A) and the sea at the other (C). On a larger scale, one small life (feet) is being connected to something larger, the cosmos (sea), through the steady flow of existence (river). By overlapping, the images create the necessary resonance: The narrator and her feet don’t literally join the sea, but the resonance shows how everything is connected, in the same way that “petals on a wet, black bough” provide a new way to see the crowd’s faces in Ezra Pound’s famous “In a Station of the Metro”—another poem that relies on superposition for its impact.

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Room of My Own: O Canada! Our home and native land!

reading between the lives and writing between the lines, XIV

O Canada! Our home and native land!
written in response to the theme for Asian Heritage Month 2022: Continuing a "legacy of greatness”

foreign experience
doesn't count in this country
he repeats ...
on the way home I feel
my feet sticking in asphalt

the Maple Leaf
flapping in summer heat ...
no Canadian experience
no job... no job
no Canadian experience

former lecturer 
now my new coworker 
at the cafe counter 
murmuring, immigrant life
is best understood backwards

from the glass jar
I grasp coins, one day’s worth
of tips
at an upscale cafe ...
my first Canadian experience

poem after poem
I write myself, an immigrant,
into Silence --
the void place where I wait
for you, Canada, to read

FYI: The title is taken from the first line of Canada's national anthem

Added: Three Hundred and Fortieth Entry,  Coronavirus Poetry Diary

laid off ...
drifting among strangers 
six feet apart

Added: reading between the lives and writing between the lines, XV

rain-stained chalk scrawl: 
this unhoused person's body
as his last address

Added: written in response both to Ottawa Citizen's May 17 opinion column: "Who won the final 2022 Ontario election debate?" and to the Apocryphal Mark Twain, who claimed, Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.

election debate
one stray barks at another
barking at another

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Hot News: A New Milestone, 1.4 M Pageviews and Call for Submissions

 My Dear Friends:

Launched on the first day of 2013, NeverEnding Story crossed the 1.4 million view mark last night (FYI: On November 5, 2021NeverEnding Story crossed the 1.3 million view mark).

I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of this poetry journey. And look forward to reading your haiku and tanka. 

And join NeverEnding Story to celebrate Tanka Poetry Month and expand the readership base for tanka by tweeting at least one tanka a day throughout the month of May. The hashtags for Tanka Poetry Month are #MayTanka and #NaTankaMo. Please help spread the word about this celebration via your poetry blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. 

What poetry can, must, and will always do for us: it complicates us, it doesn't "soothe."

-- Jorie Graham

The Dagger of a Poet's Mind
for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, author of "Poetry as Insurgent Art."

Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. 

after the Free Expression March
and asked 
if I carry a weapon ...
I hand over my pen

the blood
crusting to claret
on the paper ...
in the jail cell my words
stronger than steel bars

Happy Reading and Writing throughout Tanka Poetry Month


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Butterfly Dream: Inhale-Exhale-Drive Haiku by Carole Johnston

English Original

turn off radio
deep inhale-exhale-drive
focus on -- rain

Carole Johnston

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Carole Johnston has been writing Japanese short form poetry for twelve years and has published haiku and tanka in various print and online journals. Her first chapbook, Journeys: Getting Lost, was published  in  2015 by Finishing Line Press. Retired from teaching, she drives around writing poems about landscape. Visit her on Twitter (@morganabag) to read more of her poetry.