Monday, March 27, 2017

To the Lighthouse: Minimalist Tanka, not a word missing, not a word to be added

While in Japan tanka is a fixed form, Western poets have experimented with reduced line length. A minimalist tanka, a subgenre of English language tanka, is made up of five poetic phrases/ku, structured into two parts, and most importantly, one breath in length.

Selected Tanka

I am
I am not
I am
as I walk in & out
of mist

A. A. Marcoff
(See my detailed analysis,  Poetic Musings: Mist Tanka by A. A. Marcoff)

at the tip
of summer

Melissa Allen

the eyebrow moon
brings back your

Terra Martin

with you
as they say
outsing the trees

LeRoy Gorman

with or without
the ka-ching
of bones

LeRoy Gorman

snow light ...
a worn page
of Neruda
for the winter
in my heart

Chen-ou Liu

a red leaf
to the ground ...
the sound
of loneliness

Chen-ou Liu

Updated, March 28

foreclosure --
the height of a child
four-feet tall
penciled up
the doorjamb

Dru Philippou

Commentary by Ribbons Editor: ... The first line, "foreclosure," alerts the reader that what follows will be painful. The juxtaposition of the small detail in the last four lines with the first line lets the reader feel what foreclosure meant for that family: the child stopped growing at four feet and the safety of childhood ended too soon... "when I (Dru Philippou) composed this poem, I felt the oppression of the word 'foreclosure.' The pressure exists like a solid structure keeping the child down, cruelly stopping the possibility of natural growth. More logically, 'foreclosure' indicates the loss of a stable home ..." (Ribbons, 13:1, Winter 2017) 

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