Friday, September 24, 2021

Poetry Friday: Tankas in Conversation

September's challenge was nothing much: simply peruse years of my dear poetry sisters' archives and write a tanka in response to one of them. (Tanka = a haiku with two added seven syllable lines. See Kelly's informative posts for a deeper explanation.

Well. That went as well as you'd expect. I flailed in a sea of gorgeous choices. I mired in indecision. I gave up on equity and justice and fairness to all my sisters, and picked two poems.  One because I'd missed commenting on it the first time it was posted (sorry, Liz!) and the other because she wrote of sunrises and birds (thanks, Laura!) and I'd just come from Kiawah Island, where I'd also communed with both. 

First, here is Laura's #poemsketch. I adore her easy way with lines (both drawn and written) and her knack for evocative detail.  

And here is my tanka in  response:

Next, a stunning poem from Liz.  She wrote it in response to our challenge to write about "Ponderous, or based on an image of a hippo; written in any form"---a challenge I LOVED, by the way, but somehow, I failed to comment upon Liz's killer poem when she posted it back in September of last  year. Here's a taste:

Stones in the River

When she was seven
and everyone had
make-believe friends
and make believe families
and make believe long hair,
my sister had hippos,
two make-believe hippos,

    (go read the rest here. You really don't want to miss it.

And my tanka, in conversation: 

What a poet wants

what all of us want:
salt, honey, territory
a push upwards, grace 
seven ways to carve rivers
names for the things that surface

     ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters' tanka can be found here:



Mary Lee





Poetry Friday is hosted today by our own Laura Purdie Salas


  1. Oh, Sarah. What lovely responses. I'm having an impossible time picking favorite lines, but I'll go for "laughter bubbles from clam holes" and "salt, honey, territory". WOW.

  2. Oh, wow, I love the hippo poem and your Tanka in response!! "names for things that surface"... Yes!!

  3. I'm in agreement about "laughter bubbles from clam holes." And your poem for Liz?

  4. The wondering if Sugar & Flour are still around got me, Sara. Each child unique, yet those universal needs are there always. I love that you get it: "what all of us want" & your words for Laura, "caught the sunrise", brings me to my beach memories that I've so missed.

  5. Ooh, I love the imagery of laughter bubbling from clam holes -- and naming the things that rise from the river's surface. Truly lovely - and wasn't it great fun digging into the past in this way? Just revisiting the hippo poem made me happy.

  6. That rupturing sky and bubbling laughter--somehow you've shown the absurdity and beauty of our world. I loved rereading the hippo poem and then your response, and I so want to be in your brain and see how you make these unexpected leaps that feel somehow exactly right.

  7. So fun, so beautiful...that laughter from the clam holes steals the show, though. All reasons I'm so glad I popped in this morning.

  8. I remember that hippo poem, and your response, good heavens:
    "seven ways to carve rivers
    names for the things that surface"

    A poem that includes the words plover, rupture and bubbles is also a winner but for the me the line is "we say we caught the sunrise."

  9. I love that laughter bubbling out!

  10. "laughter bubbles from clam holes" LOVE! Sometimes the simplest instructions are the most difficult.

  11. Such wonderful poems as inspiration - I love your responses. What a wonderful way to describe a sunrise "the sky's edge ruptures." Thanks for sharing these!

  12. Two strong and beautiful poem responses, I like the water connection in each. Love "laughter bubbles from clam holes," and "grace" and "names for the things that surface," so much packed in this succinct poem, thanks Sara!


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