After an early lunch, a writer friend and I walk around a small lake on a lovely early fall day.

Ideally, we’d talk about our current writing projects. I’ve had too much coffee and remain jittery.

Dragonflies are out and we exclaim at seeing a few skimming the water. Leaves are turning, and many have fallen to the ground. Where the trail cuts through a forested area, we greet couples and solitary walkers.

Without realizing it, I start monopolizing our conversation. My friend remains very patient with me. I’m expounding on past relationships and have another point I want to make.

flying as one
careen off my hat
my train of thought

Andrew Shattuck McBride
PaPoWriMo 2012 ~ *Day Ten Poem*
October 5, 2012


Writing Tanka Prose

Tanka are Japanese-style short form poems in five lines. With origins going back over 1,200 years, this form is much older than haiku, and has antecedents in Chinese poetry.

Tanka are usually of 31 syllables or less. A key note about syllables in English is that these do not correspond to sounds in Japanese. (This fact leads to some enduring misunderstandings about these forms; for example, haiku as being poems with a 5-7-5 syllabic structure. Literary haiku journals usually will not publish 5-7-5 haiku.) One of the few tanka I’ve had published appeared in bottle rockets #25 in 2011:

in the cat bed –
my black cat
and white cat curl
into each other
yin and yang

[I count 20 syllables!]

Visit the bottle rockets press website here.

Tanka prose is a hybrid form including tanka and prose in various configurations. Tanka prose may begin with a tanka or end with a tanka. An alternative is for the prose and tanka to be interwoven.

The interwoven elements usually include observations (small moments) and most frequently comment about human relationships or the human condition.

Blessings, and press on with your writing! Andy

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Japanese-style short form poetry, Notes on the Literary Life, PaPoWriMo ~ 2012, Poets, Samples, Trail Offerings. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dragonflies

  1. Maybe your friend *enjoys* hearing you talk.

    Lovely tanka!

    • Jennifer!

      She may, but I *enjoy* listening to her talk even more!

      Thank you. The tanka prose piece could use more work in setting up the concluding tanka.

      Blessings to you and your family, Andy

      P.S. Hey–press on with YOUR writing!

  2. Thank you for this explanation…love it. And I loved the tanka poem about the cats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s