Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday: Tanka

Here are the poems I wrote for this week’s Monday Poetry Stretch--Tanka at the Miss Rumphius Effect. My first attempt follows the traditional form of tanka and has thirty-one syllables. Each of the next two tankas has twenty-one syllables.

Three Tanka
by Elaine Magliaro


Now that winter has
left, an eager sun brightly
blares its yellow song…
waking tree buds and flowers.
Spring enters, waves its green wand.


Newly hatched,
caterpillars feast
on milkweed…
munch leafy lunches
until their sides split.

pierce the softening
soil, push up
purple periscopes,
search for spring’s warm face.

You can read the rest of the Poetry Stretch Results here.



Written by Myra Cohn Livingston
McElderry, 1997

Unfortunately, this poetry book is now out of print. Look for it in the library—or get yourself a used copy…if you can find one. Cricket Never Does is a collection of seasonal haiku and tanka written by one of America’s most respected children’s poets and anthologists. The book includes five fine examples of tanka written by a master poet.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Anthem for a Doomed Youth by Wilfrid Owen.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Cuentesitos this week.


TadMack said...

Oh, lovely; I love the last one best.

Cloudscome said...

Sweet! My favorite is the caterpillar one.

Marianne H. Nielsen said...

They are all lovely but I love the word picture of the caterpillar tanka.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Tadmack, Cloudscome, & Marianne,

Thanks for your comments. I have to admit it took me some time before I got into the structure of the tanka. I had a lot of mis-starts...a whole page of bits and pieces.

Kelly Fineman said...

I love writing tanka - those extra two lines on the haiku really change the feel a lot, don't they?

I liked all of them, but give the caterpillars a slight edge!

Susan T. said...

Nice, Elaine! "munch leafy lunches" reminds me of Mary Ann Hoberman's kinds of rhymes.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'd never written tanka before. This poetry stretch was a good writing exercise for me.


Thanks for the comparison to Mary Ann Hoberman. I love her children's poetry. She's a true master of the genre.

Annie said...

I love your poems! I love imagining Spring waving its green wand. Beautiful!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

My favorite is the first one! But perhaps that's because my daughter has been going on about Lady Spring and King Winter, and she'd totally kvell to the green wand.

We are currently enjoying the Here's a Little Poem collection.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Spring here in New England is an on again/off again kind of thing. Thursday it was 55 degrees--Friday the temperature dipped by more than twenty degrees and we got some snow.

I hope your daughter has her own crown...and wand. Maybe she could bring us some consistently springlike weather.

I love HERE"S A LITTLE POEM. I think it's one of the best poetry anthologies for very young children that I've ever read.

laurasalas said...

Gorgeous! The first one is my favorite. The change of seasons does feel like magic--and I love the echo of sound of song and wand. And brightly blares!

Marinela said...

Beautiful tanka poems, so nicely written!

Tanka Poems