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

2023 Nominations for Pushcart Prize

January 12, 2024

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce the following nominations for The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses LXIX anthology, as selected by Ribbons editors:

Submissions to Laurels, TSA’s New Online Journal, Due by January 31, 2024

November 26, 2023

The Tanka Society of America’s new online journal, Laurels, will launch in February/March of 2024. We invite all TSA members (only) to submit up to three unpublished tanka. As guest editor of the first issue, Richard L. Matta has chosen “A Makeover” as the theme. To learn more and to find the online submission link, please visit our new Laurels page. The deadline for sending your work is January 31, 2024.

2024 Ribbons Submission Deadlines and Revised Membership Fees

October 31, 2023

The Tanka Society of America has decided to change the publication schedule of Ribbons to be twice a year instead of three, starting in 2024. This will result in more manageable editing and mailing work. See our submission guidelines page for new submission dates. To augment Ribbons, we have decided to initiate Laurels, a new members-only online tanka journal focusing on specified themes twice a year (to be posted about halfway between Ribbons issues)—see the new Laurels page for more details. Our U.S. and Canadian membership dues will remain unchanged, but we need to increase membership dues for international subscribers to reflect actual costs that we can no longer subsidize. To offset this increase, we are adding a much more affordable online (PDF) option for receiving TSA publications, available to anyone anywhere, including anyone in the United States. See our How to Join or Renew page for more details.

2023 TSA Members’ Anthology Editor Announced

August 15, 2023

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce that the editor for our 2023 TSA members’ anthology will be Randy Brooks. The submission period will run from September 1 to 30, 2023, and all members will receive a free copy of the book. See the complete submission guidelines.

2023 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest Results

August 11, 2023

Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest, judged by an’ya and Debbie Strange. Results and commentary, and a winners video by Christine L. Villa, are now live on the 2023 Winners page, with the top three poems and honorable mentions posted to the home page. Our top winners are David Terelinck, Ruth Holzer, and Anne Benjamin, selected from 678 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 is Cynthia Padilla.

2022 TSA Members’ Anthology Published

July 28, 2023

The Tanka Society of America is pleased to announce the publication of One Moment at a Time, its 2022 members’ anthology, edited by Jim Chessing. This collection features tanka by 160 poets in nine thematic chapters, ranging from love and family to nature and the news, plus gardens, illness, death, and introspection. This is the society’s fifteenth anthology since the organization was founded in 2000. Though publication was delayed longer than expected, copies are now being sent out to members. Read more about the book and see the cover on our TSA Anthologies page.

Sanford Goldstein, December 1, 1925 – May 5, 2023

June 24, 2023

The Tanka Society of America is saddened to report the passing of Sanford Goldstein, the grandfather of tanka in English, and a mentor to many members of the society. The Tanka Society of America renamed its annual tanka contest in Sandy's honor in 2015. He was born on December 1, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, and died at age 97 on May 5, 2023, in Shibata City, near Niigata, Japan, and spent his life “spilling tanka.” As Joy McCall has noted, Sandy died “on the 5th day of the 5th month of the 5th Reiwa year in Japan, so right for the man who lived his whole life in five lines.” Rest in peace, Sandy. Please read the eulogy for Sanford Goldstein, written by his son Dave Goldstein.

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: 

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 is 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.

Earlier TSA News and Announcements

View an archive of earlier TSA news and announcements.

2023 Contest Winners

Judged by an’ya and Debbie Strange

 

First Place

far beneath

Appalachian skies

soused with stars

a snowmelt stream

distils the moonshine

David Terelinck

Queensland, Australia

 

Second Place

shutters closed

against the heat of noon

the Roman street

where I used to live

still keeping its secrets

Ruth Holzer

Herndon, Virginia

 

Third Place

I watch the milk

upon the stovetop

rise and rise

all white froth and spirit—

oh, to live so lightly

Anne Benjamin

Toongabbie, Australia


Honorable Mentions (not ranked)

she drifted away

when dementia deepened

as if memories

were the ones

weighing her down

Firdaus Parvez

Aligarh, India


I nursed you

in spring’s morning green

now the leaves

in autumn’s slant light

catch and spin in my heart

Kate MacQueen

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


summer bay

two seagulls float

in the gentle swell

not too close together

not too far apart

Jan O’Loughlin

Croydon, Australia


the busker sings it

better than the Beatles

I still miss

all our yesterdays

your ashes in my backpack

Tracy Davidson

Warwickshire, United Kingdom


Special Commendation for Embodying Sanford-Style

toppled

by a storm

the oak

that ate

the dragon kite

Rebecca Drouilhet

Picayune, Mississippi


Read more TSA Contest winners. 

The Tanka Society of America welcomes your donations.