Monday, September 19, 2022

To the Lighthouse: Character/Persona Tanka

Character tanka, also known as persona tanka, are a genre where the poets take on the roles of other people. They are written in first-person or third-person accounts of a character's behaviour  towards/response to a certain life situation or of thoughts/reflections. A successful character tanka depends on selecting an interesting or a unique persona (mask in Greek) whose view of life or perception of reality is conveyed through an effective juxtaposition of his/her thought and action.

The following is a set of character tanka for your reading pleasure:

My heart: 
black linen 
hung at night 
in the shadow 
of a crow. 

Modern English Tanka, 1:1, Autumn 2006 

M. Kei

locked windows
and a dead bolt
used to comfort her;
tonight on the 9th floor
she plays some Bill Evans 

A Hundred Gourds, 1:1, December 2011

Marian Olson

fresh leaves
of a large elm tree
crumpled by wind
I am detested because
I wish to live passionately

Breasts of Snow, 2004

Fumiko Nakajo

in my closet
clothes for all occasions
yet the years
it took to be comfortable
in my own skin

The Tang of Nasturtiums, 2012

Carole MacRury

To conclude today's post, share with you three of my character tanka with different personalities: one timid, another arrogantly dreamy, and the last racist.

I've the right
to swing my fist, but this freedom
stops at the tip
of my love rival's nose ...
I shout before the mirror

by the penthouse window
my friend repeats 
this is America
why settle for pretty good? 

a policeman
throws a black woman
into the mud
shouting, she held a knife!
(found only in his mind)


Addedreading between the lives and writing between the lines, XXVII

God, my country
just hard work, no handouts ...
in the spotlight
the mayor punctuates his words
with a gavel-on-the-desk gesture


this photo of me
with arms and legs wide open
and a face
turned into a Munchian scream ...
now a gray-haired man of few words


beer foam
spilling over his hand
in soft light
he sweet-talks
at his blind date


alone, browsing
row upon row of strollers ...
which type
is the right one even if
I don't have Mr. Perfect


screams mixed with the sound
of a blood-stained bottle of wine
swept across asphalt ...
a man stabbed to death in swarming
by eight teenage girls 

FYI:Swarming/swarm attack is a military-style assault in which a group of people all attack a single individual at once. And for more details about this senseless tragic death, see  CBC News, Dec. 21: Teen girls charged with murder in Toronto 'swarming' death were after liquor bottle: witness

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