Friday, June 29, 2018

Tanka Society of America - 19th Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest, 2018

the ocean
was in a rage last night
but today,
these peace offerings
of blue mussels and kelp

1st Place

Judges' Comments:

The word, rage, has a long, storied history in literature ... it is a universal emotion and, for sure, people have long experienced the rage of the ocean. How excellent we thought was its use in line 2, rather than using a word such as storm. We admired the use of a simple comma at the end of line 3 to give the reader a short pause to allow a moment to ponder, "What's next?" Ah, there is a resolution to the last night. Today? A peace offering to which we felt an "aah" moment. How welcome is the bounty. There is an infinity of treasures found in the ocean. We found the blue mussels and kelp a delightful choice made by this poet. In our judges' report, we touched upon reciting tanka to take in its sound. You might not choose to read out loud all nine of the awarded tanka, but this one, in particular, lends itself to deeper appreciation with its pivot at the end of line 3. You might experience tranquility with lines 4 and 5. We did.


on this night
of our awareness,
the aurora
brushes an ensō
across lake and sky

Honourable Mention

Judges' Comments:

This tanka offered a wonderful visual image of sky artistry in the shape of the Zen form of the brush-stroked circle known as ensō. The circle, of course, has been a time-immemorial symbol of Life with no beginning and no end. Reading this tanka did, in fact, provide both judges a moment of awareness. The poet asks us to imagine a transition from night to the first light of dawn when anything is possible. There is magic in the transcendence gifted by this tanka.


wheat fields
tousled by fingers
of wind
I tuck a strand of hair
behind your ear

Honourable Mention

Judges' Comments:

This tanka brought out the romance of life expressed in gentle moments, and oh how gently we are brought into this scene. In this poem, love is in wind and wheat, love is expressed by tucking hair with hands. While we sat in the presence of this poem, it allowed each of us to feel this sacred moment of love, and to reflect on our symbols of affection and tenderness. For us, we ultimately fell into a moment of appreciation and quietude.


Note: There were 476 entries to the contest. I am grateful to Jessica Malone Latham and Neal Whitman for their generous commentaries.





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