2. Tanka Practice

about tanka practice

We began by writing our intentions each morning and sending them to like minded friends. Intentions are our individual plans to live wakefully each day.  We concluded the day by sending a commentary about how our day’s intentions unfolded. These were written in prose and sometimes became lengthy and emotionally heavy.

In an effort to correct this, we moved to writing poetry. Emphasizing succinctness, honesty and beauty we found the poetry mutually inspiring. First working in haiku, our practice since has evolved to the writing of tanka. Tanka is a five lined poem developed in ancient Japan.

Beautiful modern examples can be seen at  http://www.americantanka.com/

We like Jeanne Emrich’s instructions at http://www.tankaonline.com/

Tanka writing is a wonderful exercise in perception. Beauty is the natural outcome of succinctness and truth. To begin your own tanka practice, start your morning by writing one. The tanka should be simple, spontaneous and reflect a perception that has struck you. Later you can revise your tanka to develop its artistic attributes.

The most crucial aspect of tanka practice is that you reach deeply within to discover your own inner art.  Connecting with your intention each morning can lead to a more powerful day. Sharing those intentions will help you focus your awareness. The others with whom you share silently support your effort.

Your effort to be essential creates a pressure on you to clarify your seeing.  In our opinion, this pressure also helps you write good poetry.  These simultaneous actions: self-seeing and ascending to beauty, are at the heart of tanka practice.

Leslie Ihde

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