Friday, August 10, 2018

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #45 Gogyohka, a modern way of writing/creating tanka

!! Open for your submissions next Sunday August 12th at 7:00 PM (CEST) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new weekend-meditation. This time I have a nice "trip along memory-lane" feature for you. Maybe you can remember our special feature "Little Ones", a feature in which I introduced other small forms of poetry. For this weekend I have done that too.

Logo Little Ones feature
For this weekend meditation I have chosen a modern way of tanka-writing known as "gogyohka", a poetry form invented by Enta Kusakabe. I had never heard of this poetry form, but as I read about `gogyohka` on the website Finger Printing Eyes of Pat my attention was immediately caught.

Gogyohka is a nice new way of writing - creating tanka and here is how it works:

Gogyohka is a new form of poetry which has been developed in Japan. Gogyohka simply means verse which is written in five lines, but each line generally represents one phrase and has a different feel to five-line verse commonly found in Western poetry.
I wasted time,
and now
doth time
To be
not to be,
that is
the question

If you make each short phrase stand alone as a separate line in this way, then you have something a little different to what is generally considered standard 5-line verse in the Western sense.
This new form of verse was developed by a poet called Enta Kusakabe. The idea was to take the traditional form of Tanka poetry (which is written in five lines) and liberate its structure, creating a freer form of verse. Kusakabe, who was born in 1938, first came up with the concept in 1957. From the 1990s onwards he began his efforts to spread Gogyohka as a new movement in poetry, and there are now around half a million people writing this form of verse in Japan.
There is a long tradition of lay people writing short poetry in Japanese society  (currently there are around three million Japanese writing Haiku, one million writing Tanka and one million writing Senryu).

Traditional Tanka is based on a 5,7,5,7,7 syllable pattern. For languages such as English, however, it is difficult to compose verse within these restraints. Non-Japanese Tanka is, therefore, written freely in five lines, like Gogyohka. That is to say, Gogyohka is already being written internationally in the form of Tanka.

While a degree of freedom is inevitable in Tanka, in the case of Gogyohka the freedom of the verse is natural, and this can be used to great effect: the freedom of expression in Tanka is passive, whereas the freedom in Gogyohka is active and vibrant.
Kusakabe believes that all languages share an inherent quality, that words are a form of breath which can be uttered and felt. He came to the conclusion that this kind of poetry would work in any language and that writing it would help people to develop their thoughts. He resolved to spread the word about Gogyohka around the world.
There are a few people in New York who have already joined the Gogyohka cause, so Kusakabe decided to begin his global mission there.

◇Here is an example of a Gogyohka.

What kind of
stained glass
have your
rose-coloured cheeks
passed through
                                       Enta Kusakabe

It's a wonderful kind of poetry I think, but I couldn't come up with a good "gogyohka", because I have to dive somewhat deeper in this matter. Therefore it's a great idea to make the "gogyohka" the theme for this weekend-meditation.

This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday August 12th at 7:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until August 19th at noon (CEST). Have a great weekend.


  1. I just wanted to say "thanks" for the "shout out" Chèvrefeuille; I'm glad that you've decided to feature this newer form, the gogyohka.

    I'm still wrapped up in trying to tease its essences, myself - I'm beginning to appreciate the subtleties of it - because what seems rather simple and straightforward at first, isn't quite so, (laughing) as I've come to discover, when working with it for most of the Summer Retreat. It's definitely a form I think has wonderful potential.

    so thanks again and I hope you have a wonderful week :)

    1. The Gogyohka is a wonderful new form of Japanese poetry and I am trying this form myself. I just had to make an episode about it here at CDHK.
      Thank you my friend ... I have a great week.


  3. And just to add some further interest and ideas about this:

    there is another form, although not "officially" recognized, called: Gogyoshi.

    Gogyoshi is a Japanese form of poetry invented by Taro Aizu.
    Gogyohka predates it – Enta Kusakabe came up with the concept in 1957 and actively started promoting it in the 1990s. And for some reason, gogyohka is “recognized” as an “official” type of Japanese poetic form, whereas, gogyoshi isn’t. (and no, I have no idea why). Although similar, very similar, there are subtle differences. I think part of what contributes to the “confusion” is the closeness in names. In my thoughts though, they are both equally fascinating.

    and maybe as a few more thoughts of interest here, for your discovery about Gogyoshi: