You have two cycles to consider and create an original poem, or set of poems.  Choose either the tanka form, or Tada Chimako’s “Calendar in Verse” as a model.


This option means writing ten tanka.  Therefore, it makes sense for you to have more time than usual for this assignment.  Take the time to enjoy composing a set of such poems.  As you do, remember some of the tanka’s basic principles listed below.  Meeting these challenges requires patience, imagination and perseverance.

Basic Tanka Principles

  1. A haiku + 2: in other words, five lines total.  The strict syllable count is 5-7-5-7-7.
  2. Use concrete imagery, and watch for metaphorical possibilities in this imagery. (Remember that the term “imagery” denotes language appealing to any of our five senses.  It is not limited to the sense of sight.  Also, remember that concrete (specific) imagery is the most powerful kind.)
  3. Ideally, the first three lines (the haiku) can be read as a poem unto itself.  The turn occurs in line three, which means during that line the upper poem turns into the lower one.  This turn line can be both the last line of the upper poem and the first line in the lower one–all resulting in a new poem (a tanka) of five lines.
  4. See our class examples for how to compose such dynamics.  Ideally, the turn line introduces a surprising change in direction, but a change that results in a complete, unified poem.


If you choose this option, make an original poem that follows the basic ingredients of Tada Chimako’s poem.  I have listed what I consider the basic ingredients.  You may find a few others that you see as fundamental.

Basic Principles

  1. The speaker of the poem is an inanimate object.
  2. Three stanzas, each with an upper and lower part.
  3. The upper part has at least four lines, and the lower at least two lines.
  4. In the lower part of each stanza, use metaphorical imagery to complement ideas, images, phrases in the upper part.  Clearly divide each line of the lower part in half with a visual space.
  5. The overall poem reveals a theme, focus, idea, feeling, tone–through the accumulation of its concrete imagery and its metaphors.  Ideally, this overall theme or focus grows naturally from the nature of the inanimate object you have chosen, and reveals the object’s metaphorical possibilities.