For your convenience, we have created introduction pages to each category that we
publish in cattails,
collected works of the UHTS. We hope that this will clarify for both old-timers and new writers specifics, since
currently so many different schools-of-thought on each of these forms—we offer ours also for your perusal.
Tanka, meaning "short song" is the modern day term for waka which means "Japanese song", the traditional
form of lyric court poetry which has been composed in Japan for over 1300 years. It was originally intended
to be chanted aloud to musical accompaniment.
Tanka is a non-rhymed nature/human nature based melodic poem given its rhythm by writing to a pattern of
short/long/short/long/long with varying breath pauses being made when read aloud. Rhythmically this
s/l/s/l/l combines unevenness with alternation, thus providing a natural balance to offset its inherent
fluidity. This rhythm or something close to it is acceptable for publication in cattails.
Notwithstanding, the difference in Japanese on and English syllables, the lyrical rhythm and
songlike quality of a tanka whether written in either language are achieved from the top down. Beginning with
line 1 and building tension with each line until reaching a climax in line 5—(one of three longest lines out
of a 5 line short/long/short/long/long pattern), that needs to be the most significant and impactful line
overall. The pathos of existence concept is frequently a key element in all Japanese poetry, but particularly
in tanka. This form continues to be used primarily to convey personal emotion. However, in addition there
exists an equally valid style of tanka that are simply "word paintings" or sketches from nature and/or life.
The ancient aesthetics that define and characterize traditional Japanese tanka can be used to provide concrete
credentials for contemporary tanka if the poet has knowledge of the original constructing of those tanka.
There are a set of cultural values put in place by the poets of Japan, acceptable concepts which portray
certain subtle principles of court poetry, (having been in place for over a thousand years), that are
essential to know regardless the particulars of tanka conception that one comes to practice and the
format they ultimately choose to follow.
The UHTS does not publish anything we feel might be offensive to the general public.
We encourage you to send a translation of your tanka in "your" native language.
REMINDER: Please send any/all tanka submissions (within the "body" of an email), with the Subject heading of
in all caps. You can submit tanka to David Terelinck at:
You must include your Country, full name, and email address to be