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Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 – TIME & LAUGHTER

Happy Tuesday everyone! Welcome to the TANKA CAFÉ. Are you ready to get groovy with your poetry? Then, you’re in the right place! Pull up a chair, order some coffee or tea and let’s write some TANKA poetry.

(Please note: I changed my blog name and address to colleenchesebro.com. silverthreading.com will be dropped in the next few months)

This election has been hard on all of us. I’m an empathic writer and just could not muster the strength to write last week. Good news… my fairy nymphs have begun whispering their tales to me once again, although, the story has changed. It’s time to forge ahead! I am going to use my NaNoWritMo time to flesh out the new book. It was never about word count for me. It was about writing daily. As we said in the Air Force – Onward and Upward! <3

SO, NOW: LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW TO CREATE THIS EXCITING POETRY FORM. Did these instructions help last week? Here they are again, as a reminder:

I have received many questions about how to write a Tanka poem. It is worth taking a moment to check the best way to create a Tanka.

At Study.com, there is an excellent discussion on how to write a Tanka. This is part of a lesson you would have to pay for so I have quoted the best part of that site. I color coded the things for you to consider when writing your own Tanka:

“Tanka poems are a traditional Japanese style of poetry that follows a set pattern. In this lesson, you’ll learn the structure of the tanka, be introduced to its subject matter, and be presented with examples of this type of poetry.

Original Tanka Poetry Example

the color of the cherry blossom

has faded in vain

in the long rain

while in idle thoughts

I have spent my life.

– Ono no Komachi (circa 850) Original Japanese Tanka

You may be familiar with haiku, a traditional style of Japanese poetry containing only three lines. The poem above is a tanka, another style of Japanese poetry. Tanka poems are quite similar to haiku, and in this lesson, you’ll learn how they are structured and what you might expect to find in a tanka poem.

Tanka Structure and Content

Tanka poems, when written in Japanese, follow a pattern of syllables 5-7-5-7-7. In other words, the first and third lines contain only five syllables each, while the second, fourth, and fifth lines have seven syllables. When translated into English the syllable count is usually thrown off, which is why our example has nine syllables in the first line. There would only be five in the original Japanese version.

Additionally, each tanka is divided into two parts. The first three lines are the upper phrase, and the last two lines are the lower phrase.

The upper phrase typically contains an image, and the lower phrase presents the poet’s ideas about that image

Many traditional poetic forms have a turn, a place where the poem shifts, and for the tanka, this happens between the upper and lower phrase. In our example, the poet presents an image of faded cherry blossoms, and after the turn, she compares her own life to the wasted beauty of those blossoms.

While haiku poems are usually about nature, tanka is often personal reflections on love and other strong emotions. Tanka also uses figurative language. In the example, above, the poet creates a metaphor connecting the wilted cherry blossoms to her life.”

My example:

Writing a Tanka is like writing a Haiku (5/7/5) and adding two more lines. See how much more of a “visual image” you get in your mind’s eye? You end up with lines of syllables totaling, 5/7/5/7/7.

Visit Jean Emrich at tankaonline.com. She gives excellent instructions on how to write your feelings into this poetry form.

I hope this helps to explain the “TURN,” or “PIVOT.” Remember: create an image in your mind with the first three lines, and in the last two lines give us your opinion or thoughts about that mind-picture.

Here are some great sites that will help you write your Tanka.


For Synonyms and Antonyms. When your word has too many syllables, find one that works.


Find out how many syllables each word has. I use this site for all my Haiku and Tanka poems. Click on the “Poetry Workshop” tab to create your Tanka. Here are the rules for the Tanka form: howmanysyllables.com

I will publish the Tanka Tuesday prompt at 12: 03 A.M. Mountain Standard Time (Denver
Time). That should give everyone time to see the prompt from around the world.

How Long Do You Have and Your Deadline: You have a week to complete the Challenge with a deadline of Monday at 12:00 P.M. (noon). This will give me a chance to add the links from everyone’s Tanka post from the previous week, on the new prompt I send out on Tuesday. I urge everyone to visit the blogs and comment on everyone’s Tanka poem.

The rules are simple.

I will give you two words that you need to use (in some form) in the writing of your Tanka.

The two words can be used in any way you would like to use them. Words have different definitions, and you can use the definitions you like. Feel free to use synonyms for the words.

To do a Ping Back: Copy the URL (the HTTP:// address of my post) for the current week’s Challenge and paste it into your post. You may also place a copy of your URL of your Tanka Post in the comments of the current week’s Challenge post.

People from the challenge may visit you and comment or “like” your post. I also need at least a Ping Back or a link in the comments section to know you took part and to include you in the Weekly Review section of the new prompt on Tuesday.

BE CREATIVE. Use your photos and create “Visual Tanka’s” if you wish, although it is not necessary. You can use Fotoflexer, Picmonkey, or Canva.com, or any other program that you want to make your images. Click the links to go to the programs.

I will visit your blog, comment, and TWEET your TANKA.

You may copy the badge I have created to go with the Tanka Tuesday Challenge Post and place it in your post:

HERE’S WHO JOINED US LAST WEEK FOR OUR 7th CHALLENGE USING THE WORDS – CELEBRATE & WATCH: (I hope you are visiting the other participants. We learn from each other. <3)

Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka Poetry Prompt Challenge #7 Celebrate & Watch | Annette Rochelle Aben

Celebrate & Watch | thoughts and entanglements

Squirreling | Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo 

Tanka – Celebrate/Watch | Mother Willow

Watching as you Celebrate | imanikingblog

Holiday Season Unfurling | Stutter-Stepping Heart

Celebrate and Watch #Tanka | Potholes in the Road of Life

patterns in the sky | rivrvlogr


What an excellent job everybody did this week.

Here is our Tanka Highlight for this week from Pat at Thoughts & Entanglements

bright lively colors
creeping across the garden –
celebrate autumn
sitting by the firepit
loosely lost in reflection

Each week I will highlight a Tanka to share with all of you. <3

Since you did so well last week, are you ready to have another go at it?

Here are the two words for this week’s challenge: TIME & LAUGHTER

(any forms of the words AND don’t forget that you can use synonyms)

There are many different meanings to these words. Have fun and experiment.

Autumn of 2016

Autumn softly slips –
as time advances forward
countdown to the end,
laughter filled days of summer
suspended by winter’s woes.

~Colleen Chesebro~

Winter 2016



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About Colleen M. Chesebro

Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Novelist & Poet who loves writing paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. She loves all things magical which may mean that she could be experiencing her second childhood—or not. That part of her life hasn’t been fully decided yet. A few years ago, a mystical experience led her to renew her passion for writing and storytelling. These days she resides in the fantasy realm of the Faery Writer where she writes the magical poetry and stories that the fairy nymphs whisper to her in her dreams. Colleen won the “Little and Laugh” Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by the Carrot Ranch Literary Community on November 2017, and in 2018, she won first place for the “Twisted Travel” category. Colleen lives in Arizona with her husband. When she is not writing, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband. She also loves gardening, reading, and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art. Learn more about Colleen on colleenchesebro.com.
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  1. Pingback: Tanka – Time/Laughter | Mother Willow

  2. Pingback: Veiled #tanka | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  3. Pingback: oak leaves turning brown | rivrvlogr

  4. My tanka Poem in response to your prompt: https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/through-my-window/
    Sorry, I again messed up with the syllable count.😑

  5. Pingback: Through my window – Life at 17

  6. Pingback: Lover’s Waltz | Lemon Shark Reef

  7. Can’t make my WordPress work!

    My first tanka:


    In time, pain recedes
    And never quite vanishes
    But joy must survive.
    Laughter is the glue that binds
    All our moments into song

  8. I learned today what a Tanka is. Here is my first try: https://runningwithafriend.com/2016/11/19/tanka-for-a-mad-moon/

  9. Hi Colleen, I have made a huge mistake with my Tanka. For some inexplicable reason I have posted it on a different site ‘Potholes in the Road of Life’. Greg has kindly pointed this out to me, but how do I get it from his site to you? Should I just re-send the whole thing to you?
    Sorry, but I am nor that au-fait with technology that means more than clicking on a button! Very best wishes, Norma (Norma’s Natterings,The Lone Writer)

  10. Pingback: Time to Laughter | imanikingblog

  11. Hi Colleen,
    Thanks for the feature on the highlight. wow!
    Here in my entry for this week, nice choice of words:)


  12. Pingback: #Tanka 8 – time and laughter – ladyleemanila

  13. Pingback: A poetic experiment – Art and Life

  14. Pingback: Time & Laughter (a tanka) | Darkness of His Dreams

  15. Pingback: Time & Laughter | thoughts and entanglements

  16. Pingback: Present Darkness – Leara writes and other creative things…

  17. Thanks for the tanka lesson, Colleen. I’ll have to try one. I love haiku.

  18. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Colleen. Mega hugs.

  19. Such glorious beauty. 🌹

  20. Pingback: Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 Time & Laughter — Annette Rochelle Aben – All About Writing

  21. Love the thought of listening to autumn laughing… <3

  22. http://wp.me/p4ayEo-1MR Here is my short link in case the pingback doesn’t work!

  23. Pingback: Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 Time & Laughter | Annette Rochelle Aben

  24. Pingback: Time and Laughter #Tanka | Potholes in the Road of Life

  25. Beautiful tanka, Colleen!

    • After a review, I think that line 2 and line 4 should’ve switched places. *Sigh.*

    • LOL. That’s why you live in Florida and I live in Colorado in the mountains. 😀

      • As a child, I loved pictures of Colorado and dreamed that one day I could live there. Because of this, my sister arranged for me to visit 2 of her friends who lived on a mountain 8000 feet up (either June or July…too long ago to remember). They owned a cabin outside Denver and their view was magnificent. The first night I was there, I did all right. The second night I experienced altitude sickness. That’s when providence decreed they should be *blessed* with 4 feet of snow in 1 night. 🙂

  26. Thank you for the lesson. I knew about the form but not upper and lower part.

  27. Time and Laughter–great words, Colleen!!

  28. Pingback: Colleen’s Weekly #Tanka #Poetry Prompt Challenge #8 – TIME & LAUGHTER – Colleen Chesebro ~ Fairy Whisperer | Thoughts by Mello-Elo

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