Before I answer the question posed in the title of this post, I should first clarify what I mean by Tanka, and before I do that I must warn all purists, nit-pickers and grammar-nazis that they would best just move on to another blog.
According to our trusted friend Wikipedia, Tanka is the modern name for an ancient form of Japanese poetry called Waka. Tanka consist of five units usually with the following pattern of syllables 5-7-5-7-7. Here is where the purists first take offence, pointing out that it is a pattern of onji, or Japanese phonetics, not syllables, but if they’ve taken my warning from the first paragraph, they shouldn’t even be reading this.
So, why Tanka? It is a fun and quick way to organize thoughts and observations as I roam about Montreal. Why not free-verse or sonnet? Those are all fine poetic forms, but free-verse is too easy and, as W.H. Auden said, Poetry is like a game; it is no fun if there aren’t any rules. Sonnets are too complex for spontaneous composition. Tanka seems just about right, forcing a mental reworking of any ideas or observations, allowing that to be done while those occurrences are fresh, barely having fled the eye or mind’s eye.
Why now? Quite simply it is because I finally got a smartphone and have joined the Twitterverse. Previously, I was quite happy with my green Moleskine notebooks (Yes, they have to be green. I told you there had to be rules.), but technology now makes it possible and fun to move note taking into another form. There are still green Moleskine notebooks, but the real notebook can be found by following @TankaTweet.
To see only the Tanka, and writing about Tanka, please click here.
To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”