in his backpack
© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved
I’ve decided to dedicate the week to tanka. Tanka is an ancient Japanese form, even more ancient than haiku. Tanka consist of five lines. The first three lines offer an image. The last two lines offer a commentary on the first image, sometimes through an additional resonating image. In Japanese tanka use 5-7-5-7-7 “sounds.” In English one might use 5-7-5-7-7 syllables or fewer.
I’m personally drawn to tanka for the double, resonating images. I think the form might be particularly suited to middle school students who often seem to be thinking about what’s happening and what they think about what’s happening.
Here’s a link to my current favorite tanka: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22339