Andrew to judge tanka competition

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Fremantle Press has invited Andrew to co-judge its tanka competition. The other judge is Wendy Jenkins. Read the competition details on the Fremantle Press blogsite here:

To assist entrants, Fremantle Press asked Andrew to write an overview of the tanka, its history and formal requirements. Andrew’s short essay has been posted on the Fremantle Press blogsite and is reproduced here:

Talking about Tanka

by Andrew Lansdown

The tanka is a poetic form with a long and rich history. It originated in Japan in the sixth or seventh century and quickly became that nation’s dominant poetic from. The first national poetry anthology, Man’yoshu, compiled in the eighth century, contains 4,500 poems, of which 4,200 are tanka. The 21 imperial anthologies compiled between 905 and 1439 contain over 33,600 tanka.

The Japanese word “tanka” means “short poem” or “short song”. True to its name, a tanka is a short poem consisting of five lines and 31 syllables. The lines are measured by syllables and form a pattern of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables respectively.

Arrangement of lines by syllables is a key feature of the tanka and this feature can be reproduced as effectively in the English language as in the Japanese. The 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic structure guides the phrasing of the poem and lends balance to not only the individual lines but also the poem itself. … [READ MORE –]

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