Tanka Poetry & Takuboku

Let’s talk Tanka Poetry for a moment.

“A tanka poem is a Japanese poem which can also be known as a waka or uta. A tanka poem is similar to a haiku but has two additional lines.” from Forward Poetry
There is a syllable count per line with 31 syllables in total.

The Japanese poet, Takuboku Ishiwkawa (1886-1912) re-popularized Tanka Poetry:

they said dance
I danced all right–
until I fell
dead drunk
on that lousy wine

got five blocks
that’s all–
tried walking
like someone
with something to do

just felt like
a train ride–
when I got off
there was
no place to go

If you feel inclined, read this linked article on the life of Takuboku Ishikawa.  It is a translation, informative and well-written.  One thing that I surmised is that across cultures and over time, there are those who effectively document the political climate through their poetry.

These brief poems, tanka,  are able to capture both the climate of the times and the sentiment of the poet.

Takuboku Ishikawa: engaged observer

“Celebrated tanka poet rode the tumult of his times as he transformed from provincial romantic to national firebrand.”

“He is a model for today’s self-sequestered youth, with his ardent commitment to life and word, his constant seeking of something better for himself, his family, to whom he was devoted in his own way, and his care for people who found themselves living in the lower economic and social strata in his country.”

Takuboku Ishikawa: engaged observer | The Japan Timeshttps://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2015/04/11/general/takuboku-ishikawa-engaged-observer/


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