Tanka Society of America

Welcome to the Tanka Society of America website. Here you can learn more about the society, its activities, and membership benefits. You can also learn more about our journal, Ribbons, our annual tanka contest, and our membership anthologies. If you’re not already a member, please read the Top-Five Benefits of TSA Membership and JOIN OR RENEW TODAY.

Tanka poetry has a history of more than 1,300 years in Japan and 100 years in English. Originally written in the Japanese Imperial court, when it was known as waka, tanka has grown to be a worldwide genre of poetry written in English on a variety of topics, usually in five lines. Join fellow members of the Tanka Society of America, founded in 2000, in discovering, sharing, studying, preserving, and appreciating this vibrant genre of English-language poetry.

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TSA News

Pushcart Prize Nominations

November 23, 2022

The Tanka Society of America is delighted to announce the following nominations for the 2023 Pushcart Prize anthology, as selected by Ribbons editors:

  • “Sweepstakes” by Michelle Brock — tanka prose, Winter 2022

  • “Out of Africa” by Barbara Curnow — tanka prose, Winter 2022

  • “Balancing Act” by Michele L. Harvey — tanka sequence, Winter 2022

  • “The Bomb Inside Them” by Margaret Chula — tanka sequence, Spring/Summer 2022

  • “My Search for Line 5” by Ken Slaughter — essay, Spring/Summer 2022

  • “east meets west” by Jon Hare — tanka sequence, Fall 2022

Former U.S. poet laureate Charles Wright has said, "A Pushcart Prize selection is one of the very best things that could happen to a writer." So let’s wish these fine writers the very best in a tough contest.

Sci-Fi Tanka Video Feature

November 20, 2022

New to the Tanka Society of America’s YouTube channel is “April 2022 Sci-Fi Tanka Feature,” a video by Christine L. Villa celebrating sci-fi tanka compiled by Susan Burch. You can also see it on our Videos page (scroll down to Other Videos). This video (almost nine minutes long) features poems by Sheila Sondik, Susan Burch, Rick Jackofsky, Cynthia Anderson, Julie Bloss Kelsey, Genie Nakano, Jim Chessing, Charles Harmon, Lenore English, Michael Flanagan, Michele L. Harvey, Pris Campbell, Kenneth Slaughter, Michelle Brock, Marilyn Humbert, Mark Teaford, LeRoy Gorman, Dru Phillippou, Bob Erlandson, Hazel Hall, Elaine Dillof, William Kerr, Debbie Strange, Peggy Hale Bilbro, Paul Millar, Elisa Theriana, Mike Stinson, Autumn Noelle Hall, Seren Fargo, and Sarah Turnbull. Congrats and thanks to all!

Tanka Hangout Announced

November 6, 2022

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce its new “Tanka Hangout,” edited by Ken Slaughter, in our journal Ribbons. Tanka Hangout welcomes submissions by TSA members only, each poem written in response to a prompt. Read more about it at our new Tanka Hangout Submission Guidelines page.

2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest Results

August 10, 2022

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest, judged by Kathy Kituai and David Terelinck. Results and commentary are now live on the 2022 Winners page, with the top three poems and honorable mentions posted to the home page. Our top winners are Robin Anna Smith, Alan Peat, and Suraja Roychowdhury, selected from 585 contest entries, coordinated once again by Susan Burch. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who celebrated tanka by entering.

2022 TSA Members’ Anthology Editor Announced

March 10, 2022

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that the editor for our 2022 TSA members’ anthology will be Jim Chessing. The submission period will run from June 15 to July 31, 2022, and all members will receive a free copy of the book. See the complete submission guidelines.

Tanka Studio Column Announced

February 16, 2022

The Tanka Society of America extends gratitude to Michael McClintock for editing the long-running “Tanka Café” column in Ribbons. In its place, we’re pleased to inaugurate a new “Tanka Studio” column, edited by Autumn Noelle Hall. This column welcomes tanka submissions by TSA members only, each poem written in response to a visual theme. Read more about it at the new Tanka Studio Submission Guidelines page.

2021 TSA Members’ Anthology Published

February 3, 2022

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce the publication of Self-Portrait, its 2021 members’ anthology, edited by Michael H. Lester. This collection offers a window into the minds of 152 tanka poets from around the world in seven chapters exploring such timeless themes as death, love, human nature, the natural world, and philosophy. This collection is the society’s fourteenth anthology since the organization was founded in 2000. Members can expect to start receiving their free copies in March. Read more about the book and see the cover on our TSA Anthologies page.

2022 Goldstein Contest and Judges Announced

January 29, 2022

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that the judges for the 2022 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest will be Kathy Kituai and David Terelinck. Once again, it will be free to enter the contest, but we are reducing the number of submissions to four tanka per person (instead of five), to make the total number of poems more manageable for the judges. We encourage your donations to offset our costs (a donation button appears on the submission page). Please read the 2022 Goldstein contest guidelines, which welcome your submissions from April 1 to May 31, 2022. We look forward to receiving your entries!

New TSA Website Launch

January 1, 2022

Major relaunch of the Tanka Society of America website, now secure and optimized for PCs, tablets, and phones. Extensive design changes throughout, plus hundreds of smaller updates, including an updated Calendar for 2022. Please explore the site and let us know what you think!

2021 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest Results

August 24, 2021

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest, judged by Autumn Noelle Hall and Don Miller. Results and commentary are now live, with the top three poems and honorable mentions posted to the home page, and complete commentary available through the Winners and Judges’ Comments page. Our top winners are Pris Campbell, Kathryn Stevens, and Urszula Funnell, selected from 845 poems by 199 participants, coordinated once again by Susan Burch. Congratulations to all, and thank you to everyone who celebrated tanka by entering.

TSA YouTube Channel

July 9, 2021

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce its own YouTube channel, and the addition of a new Videos page on our website. Please check out both links, which include the following brand-new video featuring pandemic-related tanka. Susan Burch compiled the poems and Christine L. Villa made the video. Thank you to all the poets for their tanka contributions.

Earlier TSA News and Announcements

View an archive of earlier TSA news and announcements.

2022 Contest Winners

Judged by Kathy Kituai and David Terelinck

First Place

rust

on musk thistle . . .

how long until

I’m more my illness

than myself

Robin Anna Smith

Middletown, Delaware

Second Place

the wet dog smell

of a small town

junk shop

something i didn’t come in for

finds me

Alan Peat

Biddulph, United Kingdom

Third Place

night owl

the silent swoosh

of a turned page

as I scribble the shapes

of another unfinished poem

Suraja Roychowdhury

Lexington, Massachusetts


Honorable Mentions (not ranked)

Dad’s painting

of a lighthouse

all that is left

a train whistle echoes

from room to room

Kenneth Slaughter

Worcester, Massachusetts


no breeze

to awaken the chimes

this morning

again, the boy asks

if his cat is still dead

Kenneth Slaughter

Worcester, Massachusetts


they sing from balconies

from underground shelters

and bombed-out churches

deep beneath the ocean

the rumble of whale song

Margaret Chula

Portland, Oregon


no access,

along the path . . .

a crop so heavy

the mandarin tree leans

on the shoulder of my fence

Elaine Riddell

Hamilton, New Zealand


“Sorry about the shit

hitting the fan,” he says

outside the courtroom

like it wasn’t his

and he didn’t aim

Tim Cremin

Andover, Massachusetts


jolted awake

by the screen door

slamming

on a house demolished

a lifetime ago

John Tehan

Bourne, Massachusetts



Read more TSA Contest winners.

The Tanka Society of America welcomes your donations.