(sponsored by AHA Books and Lynx)

Congratulations to the Winners:

John Barlow x 3
Sydney Bougy x 2
Suzanne Burns - sequence
Margaret Cheasebro
Cherie Hunter Day - sequence
Melissa Dixon
Dennis H. Dutton
Jeanne Emrich x 2
Sumiko Hamlow
Christopher Herold
Doris Kasson x 3
Larry Kimmel
David Kirkland - sequence
Joann Klontz x 3
Thelma Mariano x 3
Dorothy McLaughlin x 2
Matt Morden x 2
Christopher Patchel
Carol Purington x 3
David Rice - sequence
Edward J. Rielly
Neca Stoller
Michael Dylan Welch
Alison Williams x 2


This was the first time the Tanka Splendor Awards have been judged by the persons entering the contest and not by an outside, independent judge. Conducting the contest on-line (for the most part - entries sent by post were added in) meant that entries could be confirmed and that the poems could be presented to all for judging without names, as well as a chance to let the judges see the results of the voting for all the poems. 

Judges were asked to pick 10 individual tanka with two sequences and give each of their choices a grade of A, B, C, D, or E. Thus, each poem picked to be one of the finalists, was also graded. In this way, even though the judge may have really liked a poem, s/he could also decide if the poem was 'perfect' enough for an A or not. The system of making the picks which was changed by using abcs for additional points involved more work for the judges (and the compiler) but gave a wider range of points which sharpened the divisions between winners. The range of points was from 70 points for an'ya's tanka to 13 (which was a tie among seven persons - giving us six 'extra' winners),

Some statistics on this contest. There were 113 entries from 49 contestants. Of these, 26 were female and 23 were male. There were 17 female judges and 15 male judges. Those sending their entries by post were unable to participate in the judging.

Only three individual tanka entries per person were accepted and there were five winners who had all three of their entries picked as winners: Joann Klontz, John Barlow, Doris Kasson, Carol Purington and Thelma Mariano. A person could only submit one sequence. Two persons, Cherie Hunter-Day and David Rice each submitted a linked sequence which they had worked on together writing alternate stanzas. The winning sequence got three times the votes of their other joint work. The sequence by Suzanne Burns got seven more points to be the grand winner of the sequences.

The contest closed at mid-night September 30th and the next day the anonymous entries were emailed to each person with an e-address. One address failed and I made one error having to resend the entries to that person. By October 16th the results of all judges had arrived. When these votes and grades were tabulated they were sent back to the judges so they could compare their choices with those of the others. Only the judges know how many votes each of the entries received. Non-winning poems were posted without their authors' names. Only 22 tanka and 2 tanka sequences received no votes meaning that 89 poems got at least one person's approval.

By doing the judging this way, the contest was not only the awarding of excellence for the poets, it was also a lesson in deciding what was admired (or not) by their peers in judging as well as in tanka writing. There is as much to be learned in judging a contest as in being an entrant/writer and it seems this system aids both positions.

Yes, the participation for this year was down by almost half (we usually have about 100 - 115 authors entering) but being quite leery of how this untried procedure was going to work and how much work it would be, I was thankful to have a smaller number entering poems this year. As it was, with this number, the entries had to be sent out in two parts to avoid email overload. Next year I will have more confidence in our system and will be glad to advertise it more widely. This method of judging pleases me because it seems to be able to include a wider assortment of opinions on what is admired than having only the opinions and concerns of one judge. Also, this type of contest avoids the pitfalls of those competitions which choose their 'winners' by country (to pass around the glory) and by 'pay-back' for past favors to individuals or organizations. You can rest assured that these winners really won on the merits of their poetry and for no other reason. 

So, again the poems in Tanka Splendor show the best of what is being written in the tanka genre. They show were hearts are, where the poetry is coming from, what techniques are being used and the varied shapes of the poems. And this time, the results of the contest show what the participants think of each other's work in a truly democratic process. It seems this is the best ever view of what is being written and admired as tanka and tanka sequences.

For those of you who didn't win, I sincerely hope you will study the winners to try to understand why their work was picked over yours. This is the way a poetry form evolves. Painful yes, but each of these winners have had to go through the same process in past years and look where they are now! Take heart from this work and continue finding your own way. If you didn't enter this contest, do consider letting these new methods of determining excellence encourage you to share your poems and your expertise next year.

Again, at this time of harvest, we can see what good things this year has brought forth for those who understand that their work is truly founding a new genre - English tanka. Thank you! each and everyone and Blessed Be!
Jane Reichhold

(arranged alphabetically according to name)

cold cemetery
the long sleeves of your old coat
warm my fingertips
even from beyond this grave
you manage to comfort me


for the third time
this long afternoon
I catch myself
watching the new shadow
of the plant you left me with

John Barlow 

an indian summer
but now you're gone
just who am I supposed
to waste it with

John Barlow 

trudging to work
on a wet autumn morning
a smell
like summer candyfloss
blowing in from the river

John Barlow 

Expecting you
in the garden at dusk
I found a gloworm
in the soft earth - warm
and radiant, waiting, too.

Sydney Bougy 

Nagasaki Hill
young navy man in a Jeep
gazing at ruins
my future husband dead now
of five primary cancers.

Sydney Bougy 

Suzanne Burns  

if you give me back
the blueberries in my skin
ill let you taste me
one more time and pretend that
i actually enjoy it

living is a way
to gather smells in my hair
feeling in my clothes
and keep them all for myself
instead of having no choice

the bed is bigger
the chocolate is now sweeter
without you in me
i have time to meet myself
and begin introductions

miles davis in
the room with leaves just for me
to wreath in my hair
and invite myself to dance
to any music I choose


Moon madness makes me
Dance in delight under stars.
I lift up my hands
And feel my arms grow longer
As they wrap around the moon.

Margaret Cheasebro

Cherie Hunter Day
David Rice 

this year's crickets
begin to assemble
in out of the way places
their small earth-colored bodies
storing up song

I pour myself
into purple-yellow flowers
into family and friends I love
as if inexhaustible
these long summer days

more tears
for failures in my past
at the tide line
a black-backed gull flapping
its one good wing

that helpless feeling
swells in my chest again -
words turn to waves -
I've also chased desire
hoarse and out-of-breath

a brief interlude
after the drum of heavy rain
I marvel
at the flight of barn swallows
collecting mud for their homes

pollen on the mantle
my daughter plans
when to have a baby
I pray to the sun
keep me supple and singing


the secluded park
that someone used to tend
now you are gone
wild grasses hide the log
where once we held each other

Melissa Dixon 


winter comes
I move from place to place
strange keys wearing holes
in the pockets of my jeans

Dennis H. Dutton

I hold your face
in my hands -
a white peony
opens slowly
to the morning

Jeanne Emrich (Eriksen) 

today my heart
is a white magnolia
in early spring
I do not hesitate
to risk everything

Jeanne Emrich (Eriksen) 

a praying mantis
lifts her sickles in the air
of waning summer:
motionless, as I hold
my pen over the blank page

Sumiko Hamlow

lips puckered
you draw near the candle
face brightening
until, with one short breath,
you blow the darkness on

Christopher Herold 

talking about it
we lose it
the quiet between us
the steady fall of snow

Doris Kasson 

whenever i notice
i give it a nudge
our wedding picture
hanging there still
ever so slightly askew

Doris Kasson 

a few pieces of gravel
still mark the path
we knew so well
before the rains came
washing our footprints away

Doris Kasson 

in the night-fog
a yellow bruise
where the streetlight was -
any truth is better
than indefinite doubt

Larry Kimmel 


David Kirkland 

Hibiscus blooming -
white surrounds the crimson core.
Mourning cloaks sorrow,
or celebration wraps joy -
such different eyes, you and I.

Since the ancient times
is nothing at all destroyed?
Once more hope threatens
To drown in its upwelling
These most recent wounds of love!

Foolishness offers
No clear, sharp-edged boundary.
I fear refusal,
Though invited by your smile.
Will my next step be too far?

The heat of dreaming
Brings us to indiscretion;
forgetful we are
under summer's sultry moon
of passion's razor sharp edge.

I heard the owl call.
lost and mournful it seemed,
alone, unanswered --
yet the moon is still serene,
knowing well this old story.


about to complain
my cookie holds no fortune
I find the waiter
staring out the window
at freshly falling snow

Joann Klontz 

the vacant lot next door
with potential buyers
my spouse draws attention
to the poison ivy

Joann Klontz 

it was basal cell
and a wide incision got it all
and still I pull
runners of english ivy
anchored to our wall

Joann Klontz 

years on my own
I still stare after
a white-haired couple
the way his body
shields her from the wind

Thelma Mariano 

she loses her keys -
needs reminding of the time
at what point
did I become the mother
and she the wayward child?

Thelma Mariano 

on such a night
the moon filling the sky
I wrote your name
on the sand inside a heart
taken by the morning tide

Thelma Mariano

in grandma's kitchen
drinking a cup of sweet tea
to learn my fortune -
the clumps of dark leaves
coated with sugar

Dorothy McLaughlin 

my small son back home
from visiting his father -
scent clings to his hair:
my ex-husband's after shave,
his new wife's perfume

Dorothy McLaughlin 

when I have died
scatter my ashes across
the river island
between the two salmon pools
where driftwood wraps around alders

Matt Morden 

drab autumn morning
a starling drops out of the flock
lined on a wire
I take the same road to work
all the time longing for change

Matt Morden 

skin so alive
to raindrops and breezes
this skyward lake
am I open to passion?
receptive to grace?

Christopher Patchel 

There are those
who hear color, see sound dancing
I wish my words
at least not to limp
not to dress in gray

Carol Purington 

Indigo bird
who climbed the continent
to perch in white lilacs,
I too am weary
of this pilgrim way

Carol Purington 

Days of wildflowers . . .
cry of the pheasant
who has no mate
No words to tell him that singleness
is also a spring path

Carol Purington 

crows flutter
branch to feeder . . .
of wind chimes
from a neighboring tree

Edward J. Rielly 

he stands
at the front door
each path
an arrival

Neca Stoller 


bees mating
in the purplest wisteria -
from across the garden
you call
my name

Michael Dylan Welch 

the bedroom window
to keep out
the new coolness
I turn on the radio

Alison Williams 

the chain
that joins the white boat
to the sea
drawn to it but then we stand
uncertain on the margin

Alison Williams 

You are invited to email these winners by clicking on the underlined names to send them your congratulations, questions and thanks. Names without underlining are not on-line.

Read  the Tanka Splendor Contest Rules.
Send your tanka entries to the Tanka Splendor Awards Contest.
Read how to write in the genre tanka.
Read the on-line versions of the winners of other years in Tanka Splendor 1990, Tanka Splendor 1994, Tanka Splendor 1996.

If you wish to have paper copies of the Tanka Splendor Awards from 1992 (judged with essay by Jane Hirshfield), 1993 (judged with essay by George Ralph); 1995 (judged with essay by Dr. Larry Gross); 1997 (judged with essay by George Swede); 1998 (judged with essay by Hatsue Kawamura; 1999 (judged with essay by Tom Clausen) send an email to AHA Books, pob 1250, Gualala, CA 95445.

The winners from the first five years of the contest with additional great poems and bios of the authors is available in Wind Five Folded, from AHA Books for $15.00 ppd. Linda Ward is just now hard at work on a comprehensive collection of all ten years of Tanka Splendor Awards in a new book named Full Moon Tide due out in spring 2001. This book revisits the judges to get their top picks for the years in which they judged, plus new essays.

All poems are Copyrighted  by Designated Authors 2000.
Page is Copyrighted by AHA Books 2000.