Heart Mountain Bungei: Tanka

Tanka: Tanka is a slightly longer form of poetry, based on a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure. It is based on an older form of poetry that developed into haiku and senryū, and was enjoying a revival in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the characteristic traits of tanka is a “pivot” that happens between the 5-7-5 and the 7-7 sections. Historically, poets would sometimes play games where one poet would write the first part, and another would write the second in a way that twisted the meaning of the first part unexpectedly.