Pamela A. Babusci
Mary Lou Bittle-DeLapa
Kathy Lippard Cobb
Peter Duppenthaler x 2
Laryalee Fraser x 2
Suzanne Finnegan x 2
Wheeler Joseph Hall x 2
C. W. Hawes
Angela Leuck x 3
Carol MacRury x 2
Thelma Mariano x 3
Michael McClintock x 2
Adelaide B. Shaw x 2
AHA Books is proud to announce the winners in the Tanka Splendor 2004 Awards. The 31 individual tanka arranged according to the number of points the poems received. The range was from 76 points to 32. In cases of ties, the poems are set according to the alphabetical sequence of the author's last name.
In the sequences the range of points was from 45 to 34 with a three-way for 34. Therefore we have five sequence winners.
from the choir loft
left in mom's pocket,
one chalk line
the people who
Turning my pillow
Searching her room
Reading the e-mail heading
On her birthday
After days of dead ends
Standing with the phone
After a week
Parked outside the soup kitchen
Packing a bag of food
Turning my pillow
someone has left
The fifteenth annual Tanka Splendor Awards attracted 101 e-mail submissions and two entries by post. There were 220 individual tanka and 14 sequences accepted as valid entries. Those authors entering by e-mail were then eligible to vote for their favorites. All the anonymous entries were posted on a web page, which address was sent to all e-mail addresses with instructions for voting. Each judge could pick 31 single tanka and three of the sequences. In addition, the judges could give additional points by giving each of their picks a grade. A = 3 additional points; B = additional points; C = 1 extra point. This system, though making more work with the tallying, sharpened the judgmental skills and gave a wider latitude of points to minimize ties.
After the votes are tallied, again e-mails went to all the participants so they can visit the web site to see which poems won and how many A's, B's and C's each one received. This permitted the judges to evaluate their own skills and choices against those of other judges. The authors received a detailed picture of how well their poems did when stacked up against the others. So even if the author did not win, there was a learning process. Only the names of the winners are revealed so this part of the process is known only to the submitting author. The winners receive $20 worth of books from AHA Books per win. Congratulations to all the winners! A huge Thank-You goes to the many judges for all their work and a special thanks for all the kind words of encouragement. Blessed be! Jane Reichhold
Comments from the Participants:
This year's entries seem to emphasize once again how truly difficult it is to capture a tanka moment within the structure of this form. Many of the poets do not seem to know what a tanka is, and even those who do often cannot write it effectively (including yours truly at times!). There are a few gems in this avalanche of poems and I thank you for the opportunity to judge. Best regards, Thelma Mariano
Thanks for all your help and sorry for all the trouble. Anyway I'll learn and it will also make a me a better poet. Too often in our rush to get to the prize of a good poem we miss the joy of the whole creation process. I just need not to worry so much and enjoy the whole process and contest. Thanks for making that possible. I think it would be interesting if the winners of the previous year's vote went also into a separate winning poet's vote award (pf course you could come up with a catchier title) for what they considered the best tanka and maybe the next 4 as honorable mention. It might not be any different then the general vote and then again it might. I would think though that since they were chosen to be the best the year before that they would be established tanka poets (or if new and fortunate to be chosen would have immersed themselves and developed) so that their opinion would carry some interest and distinction. Just a thought. I enjoy the contest and always look forward to it. Keith MacMahen
Here are my votes for the contest. I really did enjoy reading everything--and now want to write more tanka--and haiku--myself. SuzAnne C. Cole
it was an honor to read & reread all the entries this year. i couldn't come up with 31 individual winners, but, i did select three tanka sequences. thank you again for sponsoring this v. important tanka contest. hugs & blessings, Pamela Babusci
You're right. I never realized how hard it must be for teachers to grade papers, etc! Wouldn't it be easier for you to tally things up if they weren't graded? Grading makes us take a closer look at WHY we are voting for a particular poem. I want to mention #151 [Joanne Morcom’s tanka] for the fact that you get it as you read it . . . I mean that it unfolds line per line. Do you know what I mean? Each line you think you understand what's happening but then the next line changes your perception. Very neat "trick"! Anyway, thanks again for all the time you put into this! Mary Lou Bittle-DeLapa
[After voting for two sequences] I didn't like another sequence enough to vote for a third. Kathy Cobb-Lippard
This is the first time I've participated in a competition of this kind. A very instructive experience. Thank you! Irene Golas
It has proved a fascinating task reading and deliberating over the submissions. A real 'plus' for participating is that you get to see all the submissions, not just the eventual top 31. But that is a bit of a mixed blessing, as not only do you have the awesome task of judging the work of other poets, but you also find some of the poems seem to be far away from your own general concept of what tanka poetry is about! However, after reading through everything once, I then did a second reading, this time crossing through all the poems that seemed to miss the boat. At the same time, I began marking those which appealed in some way or another. Several more readings, interspersed with ponderings, and I had a basic list - a few more than 31 as it happened, but another few rounds of reading through and dishing out (and revising) my ABCs and I ended with the following lists. I am very happy to have participated and I look forward to the results in due time. It will be particularly interesting to see how my selection matches up with the consensus list. Peace and Joy Richard Goring
Here are my votes. I always think, when reading so many tanka, that I would like to read them with someone else. I am sure I would not agree with some of my own choices if I was talking them out with another poet. I continue to think that being a good reader is a very difficult skill. David Rice
Its a blustery coldish rainy leaves in droves leaving the trees day here and I've decided it is a good time to send my votes... I have enjoyed the whole roster enough to feel fairly comfortable with my selections... the ones I like best ( the "A" group) are certain... it is more the next bunch that I gave B & C to where lots of wavering and second, third and fourth guessing has come into play... If I took more time no doubt some of the B & C' would change but from here and now are my choices and glad gratitude to both of you for putting together this event for all of us... Tom Clausen
Here I am with my votes. It is the first time that I have to evaluate such an enormous series of English tanka. I have weighed up all the poems during several days of reading and judging. My three favourites are: 62, 140, 143, but I want to judge people with charity, so I have sought to make a good balance of A, B and C points. It was difficult to eliminate some poems that in my view are also worthy of our attention. However, I find it a good idea to limit the number of tanka that one may select (31; 3). I wonder if a further differentiation is desirable, e.g. restriction of the A, B, C votes. Perhaps a suggestion for the future: Is it possible to distinguish tanka into two style categories, namely tanka of the 'classic' style (31 syllables.) and those of the 'free' style (as probably most of the English tanka)? I suppose that people, sometimes, may be inclined to decide in favour of their own preferential type of style. I am curious about the final results. Frans Terryn
"Show, don’t tell" is appropriate advice for haiku and it’s even more critical for tanka, when poems turn confessional. Rather than tell the reader what to feel, let them come alongside with their own similar experiences and allow them to flesh out a response. Only a few poets explored this powerful hand-off to the reader. In essence it’s an unspoken collaboration. Cherie Hunter Day
Thank you for the poems for the contest. I so enjoyed reading them. Here are my picks for top poems. I wonder if these are by just two poets or more. I felt so excited when I read the 140 group, feeling I was in the presence of a great poet. Many other poems I gave a B or a C to. But when I left a day to pass and was thinking about the poems, I realized that these are the ones that struck me as so fine that they should get my votes. The others just did not excite me and make me sigh or gasp and feel something nearly as deeply as these did. Jane, it seems to me that there are more real tanka here this year than in any year before. I remember your pioneering work in America with the form beginning decades back and sustained to this day. I salute the fact that your ongoing selfless efforts to share your passion for tanka have so clearly borne wonderful fruit. Thanks for the thrill of this contest; and for all the loving care you have taken over the years with the Splendor Event. It IS an Event. It IS Splendid. And so are you. Love, Marianne Bluger p.s. You may quote me, Jane, if your modesty allows. love. m
I read all the poems, noting my favourites as I went along. Then I walked away and did some housework, knowing that the ones that stayed with me would be the ones I gave extra points to, as simple and as that. Before parenthood, one of my professions was translating, mainly from Modern Greek into English and I have learned to trust my instincts for good or ill when it comes to poetry. I write haiku and because I am a lyrical, blethery Scot, I often find my haiku are indistinguishable from senryu and are desperate to evolve into tanka, so, for me, studying and writing both forms has been challenging and emotionally rewarding. Unfortunately, the high quality of the entries, especially my favourites, has made me wish I could delete mine! My favourite tanka had several things in common. I feel tanka should contain the succinct simplicity of the haiku but make profound but elegantly lyrical statements about humanity. I'm a bit old fashioned and also like the ones that deal with love in all its forms. Unusually, these two did not have the overt links with the natural world that I often find myself falling for. However, the emotions they created in me stayed for a long time, interwoven inextricably with the symbolism, the sensory imagery and the rhythm and syntax used to evoke them. I have experienced many of the emotional events contained in dozens of the entries and found many to be intellectually stimulating short poems. However, these two, in my opinion, simultaneously encapsulated deep emotion and symbolic images while provoking contemplation of the bittersweet beauty of love and life in several elegant brush strokes which for me are vital elements of tanka. They also show a degree of detachment, which I prefer. It allows me to fill with my own experiences the emotional spaces the poem has guided me into. I also like an unobtrusive use of appropriate rhythm, the jarring absence of which made it easier to eliminate many entries. And all three left me with questions as well as glimpses of epiphanies in the writers' lives.
we sort through
The photo under the pillow - a whole lifetime of not being able to share, of secrets carried serenely to the grave, the realisation that you've never really known or fully understood a loved one and that you aren't the only one to be shocked by this realisation. Regrets, distances within families, unanswered questions, perhaps a feeling of betrayal, deep sympathy, the frustration of not being able to turn back time - so many feelings evoked that I wanted to know about this family, the grandmother and the love she had for the man in the photograph. We are made to feel as if we are present at the lifting of the pillow. A pillow can symbolise sleep, rest, comfort, shared pleasures, a place to weep alone but for the dead woman, there was somewhere she travelled beyond sleep, beyond sadness, beyond the present, somewhere softly treasured and hidden. Technically, I like how it starts with a 'we', a family expressed in one word and united in a common activity yet subtly inviting the reader in from the very start. Every word counts in this tanka; 'sort through', such a simple way of describing the emotionally charged process of deciding what has worth, what's to be kept, squabbled over or binned. 'grandma's belongings' - the tangible and symbolic remains of an entire life captured beautifully in a line of two words. With the syntactical placing of 'under her pillow', we are led innocently with the family in real time to the discovery which will touch and change them all forever, leaving writer, family and reader united now in shock but strangely aware of how we are all connected yet forever alone and separate in our most secret selves.
without a word
Here are my tanka and tanka sequence votes. There aren't too many and the ratings aren't high, but it's my honest evaluation. I'm happy to be a part of an endeavor that promotes integrity. Ellaraine Lockie
I'm so pleased that my three poems won in this year's TS. Much of the credit goes to my friend, Thelma Mariano, who has been working with me this year on my tanka. She's an excellent teacher. I'm particularly happy to have won, because I was just reading reviews of the first two books below, and was very interested in them. It is so kind of you to make them available. Angela Leuck
Check out the TANKA SPLENDOR Contest Rules so you can enter the next contest after June 1, 2005. The deadline for the new contest is September 30, 2005.
Read online the results of past contests
Purchase copies of Tanka Splendor from AHA Books Bookshelf.
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Tanka Splendor and this web page Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2004.