Tanka Splendor 1995

First published in Woodnotes #27, Winter 1995, page 48.

Tanka Splendor 1995, judged by Larry Gross. AHA Books, 1995, 48 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $6.00 postpaid from AHA Books, P.O. Box 767, Gualala, California 95445 [address no longer correct]. (Previous books for each year from 1991 to 1994 are also available for $5.00 postpaid each.) AHA Books continues to serve those who appreciate the art of tanka with its annual Tanka Splendor contest and the publication of the winning poems. The 1995 contest book (sixth in the series) offers a departure by including four winning tanka sequences in addition to 31 individual tanka, plus a tanka from the 1995 judge, Larry Gross. Enlivening the book, as before, are the judge’s comments and an afterword by series editor Jane Reichhold. The addition of sequences is an interesting exploration that may not attract everyone (I would disagree with Reichhold’s comment that “only writers with a greater degree of comfort and acquaintance with the tanka form dare to write [tanka] sequences”), but I would encourage such exploration. As with any contest, you may not agree with all the opinions or poem selections, but at bottom the book does give a picture of tanka development in English, and is recommended reading. A sample by Cherie Hunter Day:

phone call home:

the voice of my dad

as he chides me

for wasting my talent—

only this tanka tonight