Monday, February 23, 2009

WOW! Women on Writing Blog: The Muffin

WOW! Women on Writing Blog: The Muffin

Thinking Tanka

Posted: 23 Feb 2009 07:30 AM CST

By Jill Earl

I'm not a poet, and I definitely know it. Growing up, my notebooks were filled with pages of character descriptions, notes and stories, instead of verse. I even attempted to write a piece in the fourth grade while we studied haiku, but struggled with trying to get a handle on understanding the form. I gave up eventually, satisfied with just reading it and other forms of poetry through the years.

Since one of my writing goals this year is to try a different genre, I recently found myself taking a look at tanka, a form of Japanese poetry older than haiku. They are 31-syllable poems traditionally expressing passion and heartache, each line usually consisting of one image or idea. Intrigued, I discovered American Tanka, a literary print journal devoted to English-language tanka.

After looking at some examples, I think the appeal of English-language tanka comes from its brevity, along with its use of modern language. It was interesting to encounter tanka dealing with divorce and other relational issues, even one dealing with Halloween. To me, the process feels easier to approach, less intimidating. Hopefully I'll still feel that way while learning to understand the 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic units.

More on tanka can be found here on the American Tanka website:, including samples and a bibliography of tanka.

So, I'm thinking tanka. Let's see where this goes.

How Writing Changes Moods

Posted: 22 Feb 2009 12:21 PM CST

There is a saying along the lines "if you think it, you will feel it," and that seems to be the relationship I have been having with my writing lately. Even though I have been very busy, I have taken a little snippet of time here and there to write. Lately, I have been back to my dry sense of humor and love of puns. As a result, lately I have felt giggles and snickering coming along every so often during the day too. Along the lines of Rene Descartes, "I think I am funny, therefore, I will laugh."

Take for example some writing contests lately. One was an ode, so for some unknown reason, in the late night hours I was online, I'm spurting off rhymes about a pocket protector. If that was not fun and amusing enough, one of the commenters took it one step further and sent back some comments that took my innocent poking fun at "a little piece of plastic" up the next level. In no time, we started feeding jokes off of each other; total strangers, just in that same mood.

Just keep this in mind when you need a little pick-me-up. If you think it while writing, it will help you feel it when it comes to the doldrums of life. If you write using humor, sarcasm, and wit, you can look at the world and your current situations, and find a little something to make you smile. Have a great week!

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