Nineteenth Annual International Tanka Contest 
Sponsored by AHA Books

Tanka Splendor 2008 Award Winners



  Michael L. Evans

Trish Fong

Frans Terryn

Collin Barber

John Barlow

c w hawes

 André Surridge

 Darrell Lindsey

Gerald George

Kathy Lippard Cobb 

Trish Shields

Michael Dylan Welch

H. Gene Murtha

John Soules

Elaine Riddell

Matthew Paul

Joseph Kleponis

Don Baird

Joe Christensen

Linda Jeannette Ward

Jerome Cushman

Barry George

Cheryl Rosenkrans

Eduard Tara 

Joanne Morcom

M. Kei


Pamela A. Babusci

Julie Thorndyke
Beverley George

miriam chaikin

 Ann Eustace




First Place Winner   

last night
Muscovy ducks floated
through my dreams .  .  .
this morning, I swallow back
an unsung love song
Michael L. Evans


one night
wearing a dark robe
I will slip silently
into your scarlet dreams
Michael L. Evans


some days
being bored with myself
I wonder
could a saber-dueling scar
be the missing piece?
Michael L. Evans



Winners with Two Poems


just when I think
you have forgotten about me
at the front door
two punnets of strawberries
and a smiley face post-it
Trish Fong


under the bed
my geisha doll’s hand
months later
after the earthquake
I make time to write tanka
Trish Fong


All Souls' Day.
A late butterfly comes down
on your tombstone;
I wonder if loneliness
can be felt in your world too.
Frans Terryn


That May afternoon
when you told me so proudly
that you were pregnant,
all at once a sunbeam pierced
the greyish blanket of clouds.
Frans Terryn


who among us
will not survive today?
a caterpillar
stretches across the abyss
between my fingers
Collin Barber


a candle nearly
drowning its flame —
I blow it out
and watch the wax harden
my loneliness
Collin Barber


knowing my place
in this world
is only temporary . . .
and yet the path taken
by this yellow butterfly
John Barlow

the great blue
hunched over the creek . . .
a chill wind
lifts the corners
of my old regrets
John Barlow

still green leaves
on the ground
how can I go on
into old age without you
c w hawes

all alone walking
through the woods on a path
little used
the autumn wind comes
to hold my empty hand
c w hawes


you can have too much
of a good thing
a plum branch breaks
under its own weight
 André Surridge


there’s no right or wrong
just what is...
a fork in the road
without a signpost
André Surridge


an exit missed
more than a few miles back–
I look down the road
for the right occasion
to tell you how lost I feel
 Darrell Lindsey

stacks of chopped wood
in the rearview mirror
I see my father
with an axe in his hands
that last September evening
 Darrell Lindsey


not realizing
how much we have aged
I wander the supermarket
looking for someone
wearing your coat
John Soules 

rose petals drop
on the patio
in the distance
you raise a glass
with someone else
John Soules

Winners with One Poem

studying Basho
in the poetry workshop
all we bright green frogs
think ours will be the ker-plunk
that stirs the old pond
Gerald George


another night
of being ignored by you . . .
over the lake
the last firefly
winks out
Kathy Lippard Cobb 


greeting dawn
with our urgent cries
trumpeter swans
fly low against the sky
your hands warm and fleet
Trish Shields


the leaves browning
and the kids off to school –
these days it takes
a little less shampoo
to wash my hair
Michael Dylan Welch

my finger
traces the edge
of her lips
around the curve
a new adventure
 H. Gene Murtha

the ebbing tide
has reached its low
your breath
comes slower and slower
tonight the tide will not turn
Elaine Riddell


once again
I hope without reason
that she will come…
the interweaving
of peacock butterflies
Matthew Paul


what have we done
so that on a winter day
a cherry tree
its bough laden with white blooms
is the only snow we have
Joseph Kleponis


my father's ashes
lie under a summer moon
in stillness
even the crickets
are quiet
Don Baird


young men
so brightly plumed
for battle
and death rattles windows
of our unborn sons
Joe Christensen


after the move
grandpap pulls on the boots
he toiled in each day
soil from the farm
still trapped in creased leather
Linda Jeannette Ward

the memory of her
on the bed beside me
snoring softly
I can't bear to love
another dog that much
Jerome Cushman


in frangipani breezes
along the white-walled
Key West street
a cat moves and with it
part of the night
Barry George


feeling alone
going to a restaurant
to find cheer
and introduced as
a party of one
Cheryl Rosenkrans


I just remember
her old wish to have a pond
with water lilies –
in my tea a single star
heavier and heavier
Eduard Tara 

garden Buddha
stands knee deep in dead leaves
once again
plans for the year
have gone astray
 Joanne Morcom


in the end,
it comes down to
the inadequacy of poets . . . 
tiny blue flowers
unnoticed in the grass
M. Kei



Pamela A. Babusci

my father now 91
and quite frail...
all his failures
as a parent
melting away

my father was abused
by his father...
i cook pasta and sauce
to bring over to him

before he passes
i must forgive
all he did and didn't do...
these autumn winds
humble me to pray

a heart can break
yet, a heart can heal...
i sort through
my father's
childhood photos   


Julie Thorndyke
Beverley George

the glass eye
of  the sea turtle
beneath their hall table
these grandparents
had no trouble keeping order

a marcasite brooch
in her oval trinket box
and a short string
of Woolworths pearls . . .
the doors unlocked at night

cat’s eye glasses
with mid-blue frames
to one side
the crochet hook looping
bright colours into blankets

a skein of wool 
wound from outstretched wrists
their aching eased
by gran’s whispered tales
of our god-fearing neighbours

helping to dust
beneath each oval doily
putting back
the white swan vase
just so

gathering eggs
from protesting chooks
into a tin basin
I hold the brown ones
longer in my hand

the darning needle
to save her eyes
as we watch the road
for mum to come home

cracking almonds
on the dished stone step –
around her best nut bowl
as remote to us as rajahs

ride a cock horse
on the front verandah
too little and too old
we were always waiting
for the sound of pop’s car

the oval teapot
he earned for being kind –
grandfather’s story
polished for my daughter
as we clean family silver

child hands lug
a misshapen bucket
of coal and kindling
to her small fire
burning behind mica

never knowing
until after she had died
the sterling locket
she always wore
held photographs of us



miriam chaikin

what was to flow
what was to stand
life  would  beget itself

the creation completed
that day was good
it hummed with order
content, Maker
sat back to rest 

all life  rejoiced
skies hummed 
with gladness
    the earth clapped
    seas roared
a thousand angel voices
filled seven heavens
with sweet
songs of praise

is the Maker
and great are his works
the whole world
is full of his glory

the two humans
Maker’s favorite creation
idled in the shade
and making sport



 Ann Eustace
The commoner comes 
Her wooden thongs a-clatter 
Will the Prince see her? 
She eyes the Chrysanthemum Throne 
In dreams it may become hers.

She eyes her roses 
Splendor myriad colors 
Perfume delicate 
Her garden is so royal 
She knows she is a princess

Silky scarlet 
Her kimono fits her body     
Molded to each inch 
It must captivate the Prince 
As every bit she wishes





            The Tanka Splendor Awards Contest is free and open to every one. Participants may enter up to three single entries or one sequence. This year, the nineteenth, there were 264 single entries and eight sequences – one of which was a collaborative linked tanka poem.
The contest is judged by the participants while viewing all the poems without names at a designated website and then e-mailing in their choices. Each judge could pick up to 31 individual poems and three sequences.
            Michael L. Evans was the only person to have all three of his tanka receiving enough votes to be in the top 31. There were eight authors who had two of their tanka among the winners. Because there were several poems with 12 votes, the cut-off point, there are sixteen winners with one poem.
            In the sequences there was also a tie for third place. The sequences are placed in the order of the number of votes they received. The individual tanka are placed according to a linkage subject matter or tone.
            The Tanka Splendor Awards contest was created with the idea of showcasing what is being written as tanka in this year and what the writers themselves find to be the best work of their contemporaries.
            Most years the female writers sweep the awards, but this year, for a reason no one can explain, 26 of the winning individual poems were written by men and only eight were by women. In the section for sequences however, all the winning poems were by women.
            Plans are underway to make the twenty-year anniversary contest even more special. The contest will be open for your submissions after June 1, 2009.



Poems and text are Copyright Designated Authors 2008.
Tanka Splendor Awards Copyright AHA Books 2008.




Read previous editions of Tanka Splendor:

Tanka Splendor 2007

Tanka Splendor 2006
Tanka Splendor 2005
Tanka Splendor 2004
Tanka Splendor 2003
Tanka Splendor 2002
Tanka Splendor 2001
Tanka Splendor 2000
Tanka Splendor 1990

Tanka Splendor 1994

Tanka Splendor 1996

You can order paper copies of other Tanka Splendor editions from the AHA Books Bookshelf.

Read books of tanka online at AHA Books Online.

Learn more about tanka.