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.
Tanka Monday 2023 Announced for July 3, 2023 in Cincinnati
March 5, 2023
The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce its sixth conference, Tanka Monday 2023, to be held on July 3, 2023 (plus events the night before) at the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati, Ohio. This event is FREE and will take place in person (no Zoom options) immediately after this year’s Haiku North America conference (June 28 to July 2), and accommodations are available at the Netherland Plaza Hotel (book early to assure room availability). For details about our 2023 gathering, please see Tanka Monday 2023, and review all its subpages, especially the registration and schedule pages. For accommodations, do not contact the hotel directly; instead, follow the instructions on the accommodations page, which will direct you to the Haiku North America portal for booking hotel rooms (we are gratefully piggybacking on their group discount on rooms). A fuller schedule will be added as details become finalized. If you have a presentation, workshop, or reading to propose, please contact Michael Dylan Welch at WelchM@aol.com. We look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati!
2023 Goldstein Contest and Judges Announced
January 30, 2023
The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that the judges for the 2023 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest will be an’ya and Debbie Strange. Our contest is free to enter, and you can submit up to four tanka per person. We encourage your donations to offset our costs (a donation button appears on the submission page). Please read the 2023 Goldstein contest guidelines, which welcome your submissions from April 1 to May 31, 2023. We are eager to receive your entries! Also check out our newly updated 2023 event calendar.
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. And in our annual drawing from submitter names for a free year of TSA membership, the winner was Derville Quigley.
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.
2022 Contest Winners
Judged by Kathy Kituai and David Terelinck
on musk thistle . . .
how long until
I’m more my illness
Robin Anna Smith
the wet dog smell
of a small town
something i didn’t come in for
Biddulph, United Kingdom
the silent swoosh
of a turned page
as I scribble the shapes
of another unfinished poem
Honorable Mentions (not ranked)
of a lighthouse
all that is left
a train whistle echoes
from room to room
to awaken the chimes
again, the boy asks
if his cat is still dead
they sing from balconies
from underground shelters
and bombed-out churches
deep beneath the ocean
the rumble of whale song
along the path . . .
a crop so heavy
the mandarin tree leans
on the shoulder of my fence
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
by the screen door
on a house demolished
a lifetime ago
Read more TSA Contest winners.