Monday, June 12, 2006

Tanka Reading List

The number of books and magazines currently in print that contain tanka are rather small in number. However, they can often be obtained used through,, and other sources. As far as I know, there are no books or magazines that carry kyoka as more than a passing reference or occassional poem. The closest is The Tanka Anthology which regards kyoka as being 'humorous tanka,' and includes some tanka written 'in the kyoka style.'

Recommended Tanka Reading

  • Brower, Robert H., and Earl Miner. Japanese Court Poetry. Stanford University Press, 1961.

  • Carter, Steven D., editor and translator. Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991.

  • Carter, Steven D., editor and translator. Just Living: Poems & Prose by the Japanese Monk Tonna. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

  • Cranston, Edwin, editor and translator. A Waka Anthology, Volume One: The Gem-Glistening Cup. Stanford: Stanford U P, 1993.

  • Hirshfield, Jane and Mariko Aratani, editors and translators. The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

  • Karkow, Kirsty. Water Poems: Haiku, Tanka, and Sijo. Eldersburg, MD: Black Cat Press, 2005.

  • LaFleur, William, editor and translator. Awesome Nightfull: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyo. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003.

  • Lowitz, Leza, et al., editors and translators. A Long Rainy Season: Haiku & Tanka, Vol. I of Contemporary Japanese Women's Poetry. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 1994.

  • Masaoka, Shiki. Songs from a Bamboo Village: Selected Tanka from Take no Sato Uta translated by Sanford Goldstein and Seishi Shinoda.

  • McClintock, Michael. Letters in Time: Sixty Short Poems. South Pasadena, CA: Hermitage West, 2005.

  • McClintock, Michael, Pamela Miller Ness, Jim Kacian, editors. The Tanka Anthology: 800 of the Best Tanka in English by 68 of Its Finest Practioners. Winchester VA: Red Moon Press, 2003.

  • Rodgers, Christiana. Twilight Sunrise: A Collection of One Hundred Tankas. Leicester, UK: Upfront Publishing, 2003.

  • Watson, Burton, editor and translator. Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

  • All the above books I own and have read. I have also read some others, such as Ueda's Modern Tanka, Saito's Red Lights, and Ishikawa's Sad Toys , all of which are considered classics of the genre and crop up on other people's reading lists. I find them a snooze. I left them off because this is my list. If you don't like it, go read somebody else's list. You'll notice other listmakers ignore several titles which I consider to be quite excellent. He who writes the list gets to decide what's on it.

    Higginson's Selected Tanka Bibliography

    Tanka Central - an essential resource for tanka poets

    There are some websites out there that make quality tanka available for free in relatively easy to use formats. I recommend:

  • Simply Haiku

  • Haiku Harvest and 3 x 5 Poetry

  • Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society (UK)

  • Full Moon, Literary Magazine

  • These are not all the magazines out there, just as the reading list is not all the books out there. I have a stack of recently acquired books 14 inches high, but I'm still slogging through A Waka Anthology, Vol 1. It's an exhaustive and exhausting work, a major and important work. But it's not a weekend read. It's an important reference for anyone interested in the earliest Japanese poetry. And if you are rich and very kind, you will buy a copy of Vol 2 and send it to me -- see the Wish List at right!

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