W1.2

Tanka: Maximum Impact, Minimum Space - A Poetry Masterclass.

A masterclass in conveying the climate change message in punchy five-line poems. With James Roderick Burns, author of The Salesman's Shoes and editor of / contributor to numerous poetry magazines.

Tanka (five line poems of up to 31 syllables) have been written continuously in Japan for more than 1200 years, and in English for the better part of a century. Originally produced as court poetry on paper fans or rose stems, they grew to be the principal vehicle for expressions of love, fellowship and truth about the human experience in both nature and society.

Thirty one syllables leave little room for fluff or waffle: everything inessential must be stripped away, and the poem boiled down to only what is needed. In this way it resembles the discipline of living in an environmentally-conscious way - moderation, sparing use, necessity. It is also an excellent means of getting across a message, and in this workshop we will run through the history and practice of tanka before writing a poem on environmental themes, and exploring how it can be sent out to do its work:

The tollbooth guy
wishes me happy
holidays -
thousands of cars
before me, thousands after

(Dave Bacharach)