November 16-18, 2012

Haiku and Tanka (Japanese Poetry Workshop)

By K. Ramesh

Both haiku and tanka are Japanese poetic forms. Now poets all over the world write haiku and tanka in English and also in their own languages.




A haiku is a compact poem of three lines. It shares with the reader the experience or observations of a poet. It talks about a mood or a moment, by juxtaposing images. The poem is composed by using simple words. The haiku focuses on  a single moment, usually giving a very brief description of some event or object belonging to nature. In a haiku there is a  word related to a particular season. It is called a kigo in the Japanese language.




Tanka are 31-syllable poems that have been a popular form of poetry in Japan for at least 1300 years. As a form of poetry, tanka is older than haiku, and tanka poems evoke a moment or mark an occasion with concision and musicality. In Japanese, tanka is often written in one straight line, but in English and other languages, they are usually divided into the five syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. Usually, each line consists of one image or idea. A tanka is lyrical in nature, and it provides room to the poet to share his feelings.



The Haiku and Tanka workshop will include the following -


     1. An overview of genres with examples of haiku and tanka composed by poets all over the world.

     2. A comparative study : Haiku Vs  Tanka

     3. A focus on the various techniques used in the art of writing these genres

     4, Sessions in which participants will write and share their own poems.



Day 1

Session  1 :  A power point presentation which covers the following-

     1. An overview of genre with examples of haiku composed by poets all over the world

     2. A brief history of Japanese haiku and the haiku masters

     3. A focus on the various techniques used in the art of writing haiku

Session II : Writing and Sharing Haiku

     Participants will write haiku and share the poems followed by a feedback  session.                

Session III : Self study based on research.

 Participants will refer to the books which are available in the library and later share their notes on haiku.

Session IV :  Gingo : A haiku walk in the evening

We will go for walks in the Park, observe and compose haiku. Later on, we  will share our poetry with our friends.


Day II

        Session I

         A power point presentation that will focus on Tanka, another form of Japanese Poetry.  This   presentation will be similar to the first one. It will also look at the difference  between haiku and tanka

       Session II

      Writing and Sharing Tanka by participants followed by a feedback session

       Session III

      Self study based on research (same as on day one).

       Session IV

      An exposure to Tanka written by  contemporary poets (handouts will be given to  

      each participant) followed by a discussion




Session 1

Begins with a Haiku Walk, followed by writing and sharing sessions.

Session II

Composing our haiku on small cards and displaying them all over  the Deer Park Institute

Session III

  Knowing about what is happening in the haiku world. Participants will get to know

  about the haiku societies and the different haiku and tanka journals to which they can

  submit their poems.


Facilitator:  K. Ramesh

K Ramesh writes haiku, tanka, and free verse. His poems have appeared in Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Acorn, American Tanka, Mainichi Daily Haiku, Wisteria, The Heron's Nest, Snapshots, Haiku Presence, Paper Wasp,  Liliput Review and other journals that cater to the free verse and Japanese forms of poetry.

Some of his works have been included in the following anthologies: Voices For The Future (A collection of poems brought out by Poetry Society India and British Council Division); Wild Flowers, New Leaves: World Haiku Anthology; Pegging The Wind: Red Moon Press Anthology of English-Language Haiku; One Hundred Droplets (Magnapoets Anthology series 1); While The Light Holds (Magnapoets Anthology series 2); Montage #24: Haiku Around The World (The Haiku Foundation, 2009); and the flower anthology published by bottle rockets press.

Books Published: Soap Bubbles (Red Moon Press, 2007)