Wednesday, February 1, 2023


By Pravat Kumar Padhy and Neena Singh

autumn years

remembering the poems

in my first collection 

tangerine dusk
our shadows deepen
long night
lighting a candle
one after another 


the screech
of the barn owl
until almost dawn 
gently holding
a red maple leaf 

this thirst 
for belonging

the cuckoo calls repeatedly


Drifting Sands haibun (Guest Ed. Sonam Chokki)


Friday, January 6, 2023

 dipping sun

over the tea garden

a gentle silence


tsuri-dōrō, Jan-feb Issue, Issue 13, 2023 (Ed. Tony Pupello)

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

 Hidenori Hiruta posted “World Haiku Series 2022 Congratulations!

Pravat Kumar Padhy and Aditri Mishra” this morning on the website below.
Congratulatory Haiku
Four haiga published in the Contemporary Haibun Online, Issue 18.3, 2022 and the photos of Pravat Kumar Padhy and Aditri Mishra were submitted to the World Haiku Series as congratulatory works of haiku.
Haiku: Pravat Kumar Padhy
Art: Aditri Mishra (5-yr old)
a gentle pause…
the morning clouds
yet to sail
stepping out…
the world looks
so colourful
とてもカラフル に
watchful …
the way of making
a rainbow
Friendship Day--
I garner warmth
to share
About the Poet and Artist
Pravat Kumar Padhy is a mainstream poet and writer of Japanese short forms of poetry. His haiga have been published in Haigaonline, DailyHaiga, World Haiku Association, Under the Basho, NHK World, and Cattails, among others, and he received an honorable mention in the Seventh Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo-Haiku Contest. His haiku are showcased at Mann Library, Cornell University. USA. Pravat’s haiku and tanka have been featured in the “Viewing Stone Association of North America” (VSANA).
He is a panel judge for The Haiku Foundation’s 2022 Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems and is on the editorial board of Under the Basho.
Aditri Mishra, 5 years old, the granddaughter of Pravat Kumar Padhy, loves dancing and painting. She received awards for her mathematical skills. Her painting has also been featured in DailyHaiga. The haiga by Pravat and Aditri has been selected for inclusion in the CHO Haibun Anthology, to be published by the Red Moon Press, 2023.
Commentary by Ron C. Moss, Haiga Editor, Contemporary Haibun Online Journal, Issue 18.3, 2022
We all seek that beginner’s or child-like mind, especially when we create, and this father-granddaughter team has found it. I was enchanted by this collaboration from the first moment I viewed their haiga.
I love the elephant family in watchful. The colours and shapes have been handled with such joy, we can only smile looking at them. The haiku beautifully captures the humour and love of wondrous things. What can be more magical than making a rainbow?
stepping out draws us into a world full of colour—the big, bright yellow bird blasts off in a fun-filled scene, dominating trees and grasses of green. The art and haiku balance well, and the placement and rendering of all the elements are excellent.
The wooly sheep in a gentle pause are drawn in a free-flowing way, and each one has its own character. The association of the clouds and the fluffy sheep all work together with the haiku—as the poet suggests, we could all float away in such a lovely scene.
Every time I look at Friendship Day I see different things. The artist has a achieved a lovely sense of space, with many fine points of detail. Once again, the poet grandfather has merged into his granddaughter’s world, and we are the richer for it. May there be many Friendship Days filled with such colour and obvious joy.
Alan Summers, Richa Sharma and 44 others
1 share

Friday, December 23, 2022


why keep

seeds in a jar

the trees

climb up the sky

showering  flowers of joy


Presence # 74, 2022 (Ed. Alison Williams)


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Micro Tanka Prose: A Novel Experiment

                         Micro Tanka Prose: A Novel Experiment

Pravat Kumar Padhy


James Longenbach  defines poetry this way, “Poetry is the sound of language organized in lines.” Historically, some examples of monostich (one-line poem) were attempted by ancient roman author Marcus Valerius Martialis  (c. 38 and 41 AD – c. 102 and 104 AD). “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” is a remarkable six-word story by Ernest Hemingway. It is probably the shortest story or flash fiction ever written.


The basic forms of tanka prose: preface (exposition) and poem tale (episodic narration) were practiced in Japan. There are records of literary classification by Japanese scholars. They are known as a preface (kotobagaki), diary (nikki), biography (denki), and travelogue (kiko). In the iconic literary work, Ise monogatari Contes d’Ise Tales of Ise during the 10th century, poetry (waka ) gains importance over prose narration. The poem-tale (uta monogatari) of the Buddhist monk, Saigyō Hōshi (1118-90), is a poetic biography of the late Heian period.


Tanka prose, a combination of tanka poem and prose, is more subjective in its literary manifestation in contrast to haibun. In conventional tanka prose, the prose section comprises the human experience, personal recounts or confessional anecdotes, topics related to the surroundings, socio-religious issues, cultural expressions, wars with historical implications, a travelogue, fiction, etc. The structural form is broadly in the poetic style (prose-poem) expressed in long (diary or travelogue) or short (a few lines to a short paragraph) prose. Additionally, the transition from prose to poetry or vice versa is the key to the art of this genre.  


Jeffrey Woodward says, “Tanka prose is one species of prosimetrum; it combines, like other members of that genus, the two modes of writing, prose and verse, but can be distinguished from its fellows by a preference for tanka as its verse component. Tanka prose is constructed upon a building block or basic unit—one paragraph, one tanka—and admits greater complication in structure through the compounding of either one or both of these elements. Variation in the number and placement of tanka in relation to the prose is the prime source of its rich formal diversity. That, in brief, is a simple definition of the form of tanka prose.”


The trend or innovative experiment of writing micro novel(s), micro-poetry, etc has been in practice for a long time. There is a scientific angle to it. In modern days, nano-technology has become the frontier of research. There has been an indirect influence in literature as well. The one-line or two-line prose appears as the theory and the following tanka acts as an experimental manifestation of logical explanation. Probably, poets prefer micro prose to juxtapose the verse sections in a completely different perspective — to ignite the poetic spark for an instant impact in the readers’ minds.


I try to analyse the psychology behind writing minimalist prose with a tanka using some classical examples of micro tanka prose. Is it enough to complement the tanka or verse section? Is the verse section more important? How does the poet intermingle (contrast vs. complement) the micro-prose with the poetry​ ? 


I feel in the literary consciousness, complementing, yet — with one’s own individuality — orbits around the thematic concentration with characteristic gravitational poetic balance.  Charles D. Tarlton believes, “The greater the pressure at the moment of “searching” for the verse that demands to arise from a piece of inspired prose, the greater the power and the beauty of the tanka-prose.” The poet always tries to do innovative experiments to explore various possibilities and creative imaginations. Analogously the philosophical lines of Emily Dickinson strike me:


I dwell in Possibility—

A faired House than Prose—


And she metaphorically uses poetry as the limitless dimension of extension

‘To gather Paradise— .’


Keeping the above in perspective, let us analyse some of the micro tanka prose and evaluate the importance of the style, compositional form, poetic exploration, interrelationship with prose and tanka, and lyrical quality.


In micro tanka prose, the tanka amplifies and expands the content of the prose section. Thus the minimalistic modulation or expression of the prose section is expanded and augmented by the tanka which can be termed as prose expansion through poetry. At times, the brevity in prose expression leads to a subtle philosophical entity exemplified by the verse narration. It looks like an expanded form of literature in a poetic form unlike the conventional tanka prose with a distinct link and shift between the paragraphs.


The minimal expression creates tension in the reader’s mind and tries to search for the analogous exactness hidden in the poetry. There has been a literary sublimity in the short prose that compels the readers to transcend into the realm of poetry for an explanation. The concept of narration, and the enlarged inputs have been restricted in micro tanka prose and the verse facilitates to blend the essence in an effective way. The following selected and representative micro tanka prose have been interpreted as to how the brevity of prose and its complementary verse explores  creative imagism.


Nearly There


I told them I was dead, but not a single person there believed me . . .


the sign said

turn back, road ends here

I waken

from a brief sojourn

in another realm


-Debbie Strange, Atlas Poetica, Number 23, 2015 


Ellipses mark in the one-line prose infers a possible continuation. This is a personal experience of life and near-death metaphorically portrayed through the signpost indicating the close of the road. The truth of life is reflected at the threshold of happening. It infers a brief halt and recovering back to usher in a new journey. The brief expression evokes a sense of awakening. The tanka embodies a sort of mystical manifestation (yugen tei) expanding the essence of the prose.  


After Reading Joy Harjo


the day rides

a splintered horse

and leaves

a trail of barbed wire

in my heart


And then I wished I could write poetry like the Native Americans I admire.


-M. Kei, Skylark, Winter 2014: volume 2, number 2


This is classic inverted micro prose. The poet feels sad for the horse, probably  with broken legs. The poet expresses as if he himself is severely hurt by the barbed wire. The tanka prose reflects kanashi (sadness). There has been a persistent ‘s’ sound in the upper strophe of the tanka and also in the one-line prose ( wished, Americans). Here the tanka expands the inner zen-feeling of the prose line referring to the poetry of native Americans.


Traditionally the oral poetry of native Americans is about reverence of nature and  spirituality with the balance of life, and respect for others as annotated in the poem given below:


The air is precious

to the red man,

for all things

are the same breath —

the animals, the trees

the man


-Chief Seattle


The micro tanka prose embodies the sense of emotion assimilating the cultural entities in a brilliant way.


Cycle of Memory


Rocking my grandchild to sleep, I am caught in a cycle of memory which takes me from the past to the future then to the present once again, rocking, rocking . . .


full moon rising—

our breathing sighs

in unison

can it be my mother

I am holding in my arms


-Marjorie Buettner, Skylark, Winter  2016: Volume 4, number 2


This is an elegant example of micro tanka prose by Marjorie Buettner. The prose transcends memories through a timeline–past to the future and back to the present reality. Let us observe the eagerness with reverence, how the poet imagines the grandchild as her mother!  The poet dreams of the rising moon in the present and reminisces about the past. There is a sense of poetic allusion referring to the moonrise. The metrical sense and the sound ‘ing’ also add resonance to it. Repetition of the word (Epizeuxis, Diacope) ‘rocking’ in the prose section gives emphasis and lyrical sense.


Troubled Water


They operated on the seventh day. Seven days after that . . .


at the airport


from the clinic

the first time, he said

I saw you hold her hand


-Don Miller, Atlas Poetica, Number 23, 2015


The story of one-line prose with a pause denoted by ellipses looks like unfolding its continuation and linking in the following tanka. It is a piece of deep emotional expression of reunion after perhaps a critical operation. The last two lines of the tanka manifest the deep human feeling (ushin tei).


New England Palms

Somewhere between weed and tree, the sumacs that jungle my unkempt property.  I like them.  My neighbors don't. I call them New England palms.


cliffside cottage
blue hills in the distance
here I could be
a Ryokan
or a Han Shan

- Larry Kimmel, Tanka Prose Anthology, Modern English Tanka Press, 2008

Larry’s micro tanka prose is unique in the sense that it assimilates the essence of prose with the richness of tanka. The prose looks very simple in its expression and

it refers to the importance of plants and the climate. Sumacs are flowering plants

and widely grow in subtropical and temperate regions. Some people consider them weeds. Occasionally people shape the top branches in the form of a crown shape and they look like small palm trees. The poet refers to them as New England palms and titles the tanka prose after them.


Let us observe the concluding tanka carefully. The verse section manifests a completely different aspect with historical references to great poets namely Hanshan and Ryokan and their philosophy.


Han Shan is a Chinese hermit and poet. He is honored as an emanation of the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī.  The poet Hanshan (meaning Cold Mountain) was one of the iconic poets who lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).  He stayed in a cave or hut in Tiantai Mountain near modern-day Taizhou, Zhejiang, China. His poems are transcendental and biographical.


Red Pine's poem 307:

Whoever has Cold Mountain's poems

is better off than those with sutras.

Write them up on your screen

and read them from time to time.


Ryokan (1758-1831) was a Japanese Buddhist monk and poet. His poems are more about nature, rich with zen-feeling. While narrating when the thief broke into his hut and stole his things leaving a cushion behind, he tried to offer it back to the robber and thus composed the iconic haiku:


The thief left it behind:

the moon

at my window. (Tr. Stephen Mitchell)


There has been an art of inter-juxtaposition within tanka referring to the name of Han Shan (a ‘cold mountain’) and ‘blue hills.’ Interestingly poet wishes he could be one of the great poets like Hanshan and Raykon imbibing the greatness that lies even in the weeds!


Leadership Retreat


The speaker uses an empty paper plate to illustrate how one can create something

out of nothing. On it, he writes some abstract nouns, such as engagement, responsibility, honesty, self-sacrifice.


But no matter how emphatic his talk sounds, I wish he could juxtapose something concrete onto the plate.


December sky

a vast expanse

of leaden gray …

not even the voices

of crows


-John Zheng, Haibun Today, Volume 11, Number 2, 2017


John has embarked on a topic having a political reference in the prose section. The images have been beautifully crafted in the concluding tanka implying sluggishness of implementation of promise as if it is all sullen and stodgy. One can correlate the complementary characteristics in the 2nd short paragraph, ‘not even the voices / of crows’ in tanka links and juxtaposes with that of inference of emptiness or intangible promises mentioned in the preceding prose section, thus twisting into an infusion of contrast.


Cooking Lessons


Today was a good day. He brought over rice and peas that his nan had made. A far cry from yesterday’s overcooked dinner which had been thrown against the wall.


today I eat
his latest offering
of peace
sweeping the scraps
under the carpet


-Urszula Funnell, Kyso Flash, Issue 9, 2018


This is interesting micro tanka prose about cooking written in three lines of prose with a message of inner reconciliation and self-realisation.  How self-awareness brings peace by shedding one’s anger has been nicely crafted in the tanka. Here Urszula tries to chrystallise the simple content of the prose in the form of an artful style in poetry.




Strewn on the garden patch the parijaat blossoms create a new morning.


leaves turn red
in which year
did my womb
stop preparing
for a child


-Kala Ramesh, Contemporary Haibun Online Issue 17.1, 2021)


Here human psychology is expressed through nature. Here the poetic prose line incorporates the seasonal reference. Awakening to life and newness has been expressed by the phrase ‘new morning.’ There is a contrast image in the following tanka inferring the world of complexity. The tanka expands into the realm of sadness and how the new morning slides into the evening of life, further evolving the truth of the evolution cycle and the human psyche.




Him: OMG! I can’t believe I’ve finally found you after all these years.

Her: Weird, I was just thinking about you the other day.

Him: You still look amazing btw.

the unraveling
of a life
she worked so hard
to build without him

- Urszula Funnell, Kyso Flash, Issue 9, 2018


Here Urszula Funnell experiments with dialogue-based micro tanka prose with a surrealistic message. The title is unique inferring face with tears of joy! In 2016, Linguist Gretchen McCulloch says, “It’s clear we love to laugh and communicate laughter digitally!”


Interestingly the use of the acronym, btw, meaning ‘by the way’ infers the informal way of expression. The prose section indicates both (could be close friends, relatives or I feel they may be husband and wife) were meeting after a long time. Let us explore the transition from formal prose to the poetry section.


The phrase ‘unraveling of a life’ reveals the emotion of how she struggled alone all through without his support. She could achieve the goal by herself undergoing strenuous time. This imparts an amazing personality and self-respect. Moreover, it infers a path towards gender equality. The micro tanka prose manifests poet Urszula’s sagacious creative imagination.




on wooden stilts

next to Father

I'm delicately balanced

and follow in his steps

picking peaches


The sign that bears my father’s name now dangles from the weathered arm of the post at the front gate. I take the shingle down because I am his only child, and carefully wrap it in the blanket brought from home.


new line posts

and barbed wire

razor sharp

the buyer renames

our family farm


-Tish Davis, Modern Haibun and Tanka Prose (Summer 2009)


The verse-enveloped micro tanka prose, “Sign” is perhaps one of the thoughtful literary pieces depicting a subtle philosophical lineage. The transitions from poetry to prose and prose to poetry reflect a deep sense of consciousness threaded in time. Tish emphasises this truth through her verses by artfully comparing the time periods and embedding the two-line prose. The opening verse narrates the happy time with family in the ‘present.’ She recalls her playful period of picking peaches from the farm with her father. She gracefully collects the old nameplate that bears her father’s name and keeps it as a memorial. The transition from the ‘present’ into the reality of time is manifested in a sublime way through the use of literary allusion in the prose section. The farm with the evergreen scene has now been converted into perhaps a prison (?) with a new signpost and a barbed fence. The ‘past’ remained as a memory antique.


Here the brief prose stitches the reality of phases of time through divergent imageries of the verses. The literary work is indeed a pathfinder of philosophical instinct. 


Pas de Deux


              the perfect line
              of a kingfisher’s streak
              held between us
              we stand with the river’s adagio
              flowing as one


Practice of writing. A bridge’s rails, the back of a bench must suffice as a barre.


              sequined in light
              the wings of an egret
              caught in a lift
              soaring soaring
              our unified leap


-Diana Webb, Drifting Sands Haibun, Issue 12, December 2021

The title “Pas de Deux” refers to the characteristic of classical ballet where elegant posture has been showcased by the danseurs. Barre is a form of group exercise in ballet. One can find the inter juxtaposition of the image in the prose portrayed in a concise form such as ‘handwriting practice like rails’, and holding the ‘linear edge’ of the bench in school during  barre exercises. Diana has created the brilliant composite images that are juxtaposed in the tanka with the linearity of ‘kingfisher’s streak’ and ‘river’s adagio’ manifesting in unification. The closing tanka portrays an ill-fated egret whose wings are caught in a lift and who tries to fly. The acrobatic leaps, twists, and locking postures are sublimely juxtaposed with the flapping wings of the egret which tries to soar up. The verse envelope in micro tanka prose is a brilliant piece of composite imagery in brevity. Here the two-line prose creates a link of imaginative space for the readers to visualise while juxtaposing the two verse sections.


Chen-ou Liu also attempts the inverted micro tanka prose titled, ‘A Life in Transition.’  Poets namely Jenny Ward Angyal Adelaide  B. Shaw, Jane Stuart, Christine Shook, Collin Barber, Mary P. Myers, Matthew Caretti, Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic, Vandana Parashar, Janet Lynn Davis, and others have experimented with the writing of micro tanka prose.




It is observed that poets try to sketch sublime imagery within concise prose, and the verse section expands it for the readers to discover the essence of the expression. Poets often artfully try to assimilate the art of link-and-shift  within the short prose in the form of switching of word phrases as seen in the tanka “Nearly There” by Debbie: ‘I told them I was dead, but not a single person there believed me . . .’ and in “Troubled Water” by Don Miller: ‘They operated on the seventh day. Seven days after that . . .’ This is an innovative experiment as to how to tie and link the ideas even in one-line prose. In micro tanka prose, I feel the verse section has a higher role to create a spark in the reader’s mind through prose and poetry which are complementary to each other like a ‘single flower stem.’ Kala Ramesh in her “Meandering” exhibits the credence of literary expansionism. The one-line prose appears like a monoku with its internal juxtaposition or disjunction, thus profoundly exhibiting a sense of a link and expansion  with the verse section. 


In the case of verse envelope, the continuation with complement is poignantly exhibited and beautifully contemplated by Tish Davis in “Sign” and by Dianna Webb in “Pas de Deux. Similarly, the interrelationship of prose and poetry exhibits an in-depth quest with a pragmatic amalgamation as manifested by Larry Kimmel in his “New England Palms.” Interestingly John Zheng in the socio-political-based write-up, “Leadership Retreat” portrays hope in the prose and in reality discovers a contrast at the end in tanka.


M Kei has compressed the emotional reference embedded in the tanka in his one-line prose at the end of his inverted micro prose (tanka followed by prose), “After Reading Joy Harjo.” Short dialogued-based micro tanka prose, “#smileyfacelol”

by Urszula Funnell is unique and the gender-centric emotional feeling  referred to in prose has been distinctly highlighted in tanka. “Cooking Lessons” by Urszula is an interesting exploration of familiar understanding in the  topic related to cooking and overcooking! Marjorie Buettner in “Cycle of Memory” creates an emotional bridge between prose and tanka and transcends through the timeline – past, present and future. It is brief in its manifestation, but the space it creates is indeed vast.




To me, it looks like the micro tanka inherits the power of literary exploration in its brevity. Like conventional tanka prose, micro tanka prose could be a prose envelope, verse envelope, or could be inverted one. In the micro-scale of this genre, the competency of fusion of micro prose with the verse is very important. Here, prose, irrespective of its narrative quantum, the essence needs to be compacted to associate with a verse to ladder up to a different height; in the words of Charles D. Tarlton: “…the two in tandem, the dialectical transformation that takes place in the well made tanka-prose elevating the prose and the tanka to a new level of perception.” The potential energy it retains has to be released at the end to make the literary piece a success. The art of the genre imparts instant literary wakefulness and consciousness rather than poetic narration. It is essentially characterized by a subtle abstract form. In contrast to the narration or long prose, the micro tanka prose offers a literary platform, with a very limited option for the prose to maneuver, to assimilate the art of imagery building, thus offering more imaginative space for the readers to unfold.


I wish to conclude with the memorable quote of the great Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh: “To know fully even one field or one lane is a lifetime’s experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts and not width…”




Atlas Poetica, 2011:Tanka Prose, Tanka Tradition: An Interview with Jeffrey Woodward by Claire Everett, Atlas Poetica, Issue 9, Summer.

Atlas Poetica Number 23, 2015,

Contemporary Haibun Online, Issue17.1, 2021.


Dickinson, Emily. “I Dwell in Possibility.” Poem Analysis by Emma Baldwin


Drifting Sands Haibun, Issue 12, December 2021.


Haibun Today Archives, 2010-2019


Kyso Flash Archive, Issues 2014-2019


Longenbach, James The Art of the Poetic Line: 2008, Graywolf Press, pp. 120.


Meng-hu, 2006: Zen Poetics of Ryokan Simply Haiku: Summer 2006, vol. 4 no 2.


Padhy, Pravat Kumar, 2019:The Garden of Blooming Flowers: My Experience of Tanka Writing, Atlas Poetica, Issue 29.


Padhy, Pravat Kumar, 2022: Tanka: The Meandering of Musical Song, The Wise Owl, Tulip Edition.


Skylark, Claire Everett, Ed, Issues: 2013-2017


Tarlton, D. Charles, 2022, Towards Theory and Practice of  Tanka-Prose, Contemporary Haibun Online, 17.3


Woodward, Jeffrey, 2007: The Road Ahead for Tanka in English, Modern English Tanka 2:2.


Woodward, Jeffrey, 2008: Tanka Prose Anthology, Modern English Tanka Press  (Ed. Jeffrey Woodward).


Woodward, Jeffrey, 2015: The Segue in Tanka Prose, Ribbons, 11:2.




Publication Credit: Drifting Sands Haibun, Issue 18, 2022