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

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 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.

Young Adults Tanka Group

May 22, 2021

The Tanka Society of America is forming a group of young adults (under 40) who share an interest in tanka. The group will workshop poems, learn from guest speakers, and offer community centered on young adults and tanka. The group is open to both beginners and experts in tanka, as well as those who are not TSA members. If you are interested, and under 40, please fill out this form. If you have any questions, reach out to Ryland Li at li.ryland@gmail.com.

New Ribbons Editor

April 22, 2021

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that Susan Weaver is now our new editor for Ribbons. We are grateful to Christine L. Villa, who has served in this position for four issues but recently announced her desire to step aside. Susan had already been helping Chrissi with recent issues and we’re very fortunate that she can take over editing duties, with Chrissi’s help during the transition. Michael H. Lester will help with the transition, too, and we’re also pleased to welcome Liz Lanigan as our new Ribbons tanka prose editor. These changes require updates to our Ribbons submission guidelines, so please do check them out. Please also visit Susan Weaver’s new officer page to learn more about her and to read three sample tanka. Welcome, Susan!

2021 TSA Members’ Anthology to Be Edited by Michael H. Lester

February 6, 2021

The Tanka Society of America is honored to announce that Michael H. Lester will serve as editor for the 2021 TSA members’ anthology. The submission window for entry is June 1 to July 31, 2021, and Michael will respond to all submissions by August 31. All 2021 TSA members who submit five tanka will be guaranteed inclusion in the anthology, to be published this fall and sent for free to all current members. See the submission guidelines. Or, if you’re not yet a member, please join today.

2021 Goldstein Contest to Be Free, and Judges Announced

February 3, 2021

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that the judges for the 2021 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest will be Autumn Noelle Hall and Don Miller. In addition, the society has decided to make its contest permanently free to enter, up to five tanka per person, with donations encouraged to offset costs. Please read the 2021 Goldstein contest guidelines, which welcome your submissions from April 1 to May 31, 2021. We look forward to receiving your entries!

Earlier TSA News and Announcements

View an archive of earlier TSA news and announcements.

2021 Contest Winners

Judged by Autumn Noelle Hall and Don Miller

First Place

my old home sits

next to unturned soil

string beans

and silver queen corn

long for my father’s hand

Pris Campbell

Lake Worth, Florida

Second Place

children locked

in steel cages

once upon a time

that happened

only in fairytales

Kathryn Stevens

Cary, North Carolina

Third Place

kintsugi . . .

the flow

of your gentle words

helps to rebuild

a better version of me

Urszula Funnell

Brighton, England


Honorable Mentions (not ranked)

no more

chilli seeds—

my children

measure my words

in scoville units

Lucky Triana

Malang, Indonesia


returning

with fresh soup

the waiter

thinks the fly

will be all right

Tom Bierovic

DeLand, Florida


people debate

the ways I should be

allowed to exist—

a rainbow forms outside

the social construct of gender

GRIX

Middletown, Delaware


Special Commendation

for Embodying Sanford-Style

birdsongs

at morning lightfall

alone

in the thatched hut

of an everyday mind

Chen-ou Liu

Ajax, Ontario



Read more TSA Contest winners.

The Tanka Society of America welcomes your donations.