Tanka #3: a brief guide to the 31-syllable poetic form


once crowned with a star
it glittered in the firelight
last year’s Christmas tree
dumped forgotten and homeless
its chocolate coins melted

Anyone else out there with a seasonal tanka in them, bursting to get out, if only they understood a little more about this poetic form?

Here are the absolute basics: a tanka is a five-line poem of 31 syllables shared 5-7-5-7-7, so it’s just a longer version of a haiku, which is three lines of 17 syllables shared 5-7-5. Lines 1 and 2 of the tanka usually represent a moment or thought in concrete terms. Line 3 is the pivot. Lines 4 and 5 are your reflection upon that moment or thought.

Sometimes I punctuate my tanka, but the one above called for me to leave it as bare and unadorned as the dead and abandoned tree. There is no hard and fast rule about punctuation.

For more on writing tanka, have a look at http://www.tankaonline.com/Quick%20Start%20Guide.htm

There’s also a comprehensive history of tanka at http://www.tankaonline.com/About%20Tanka%20and%20Its%20History.htm 

Looking forward to seeing your compositions, and please do paste a link to them as a “comment” to this post.


And now for something completely unrelated to this post — today I received this message from WordPress:

Happy Anniversary!

You registered on WordPress.com 1 years ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!




Novel Writing Winter (NWW): countdown to January 1, 2013


I hereby give notice of my New Year’s resolution for 2013

For further information, visit my new page https://sarahpotterwrites.wordpress.com/novel-writing-winter-nww-2013/, where I hope to encourage as many people to make the same resolution as me and join in with some hard work and fun, starting January 1 🙂

Blogging Award Number Three

My love and thanks to adollyciousirony for honouring me with this award xoxo. Dolly is such a vibrant superwoman, as you’ll see from http://allaboutlemon.com/2012/07/23/you-are-loved-day-and-two-awards/#respond 

The rules of the award are to tell people 7 things about yourself, hitherto not mentioned on your blog.

  1. Algebra is a complete mystery to me, meaning I failed my 11-plus, but I know my times tables back to front.
  2. When I was sixteen, someone asked me out who went on to become a famous actor. I turned him down because he was shorter than me and I fancied his brother more. No names mentioned here.
  3. I used to attend pop concerts with my mum. Sometimes we climbed on our seats and screamed, she in her white jeans and me in my miniskirt. We went to watch such legends as Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Genesis.
  4. When a lorry wrote off my Cherokee jeep, my son and I climbed out of it without a scratch, and my old dog slept through the episode. She might have opened one eye as our vehicle was propelled down the road attached to the lorry’s bumper, but she’d already experienced fourteen years of my eccentric behaviour, so probably thought it was just a new game. I’ve been scared of lorries ever since.
  5. I’m a Birkenstock-wearing, eco-green granny.
  6. My hair is a foolproof weather-forecasting instrument. Shining peace for sun. Frizzing insanity for rain.
  7. I hate fireworks, Auld Lang Syne, and crowds (despite my love of rock concerts as a teenager).

And here are my seven nominations for the “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award”, given in appreciation of their eloquence, sensitivity, and power to move the emotions.








P.S. Is there a “Brotherhood of the World Bloggers Award”, as there are some great males worthy of such an accolade on WordPress?

A tribute to Roald Dahl: bad school reports versus literary genius

Portrait of Roald Dahl,1954 Apr. 20

From the age of 14, Roald Dahl‘s annual school reports bemoaned his inability to construct a grammatically correct sentence, let alone write a decent essay. Twelve years later, in 1942, when he was invalided out of the RAF, the writer C.S. Forester sought him out to write about his heroic and daring combat flying exploits. His first story, titled A Piece of Cake was published in the Saturday Evening Post, and many others followed in national magazines.
Once Dahl had run out of true stories, he started making them up. He enjoyed writing his children’s  stories the most, and the popularity of these were (and still are) down to his never patronising his audience. He acknowledged children’s ability to understand dark humour, involving rudeness, naughtiness, nastiness, and a fascination for the scatological. He also dared to show just how beastly adults can be to children.
Original 1943 cover of The Gremlins by Roald Dahl
Original 1943 cover of The Gremlins by Roald Dahl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When my children were at primary school, they were given a reading list for the Summer holiday, which to their disgust banned all Roald Dahl books. …Why? Not because the stories were shocking or lacking in literary merit, but because his were the only novels the pupils would read, given a choice.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, to create something as enthralling and entertaining as Roald Dahl’s novels, which continued to instil a love of reading in children long after one’s death? Like Dahl, I got bad school reports, but that’s where the similarity ends. I did achieve passable marks in English and I haven’t done anything heroic enough for someone as prestigious as C.S. Forester to seek me out. That won’t stop me aspiring to emulate such a literary genius as Roald Dahl.

English: The gravestone of author Roald Dahl i...