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Poetry adjudication

Listen to the sea

Both winning tankas in the WM competition have a seaside theme, says Alison Chisholm

For anyone who enjoys writing in syllabic forms, the tanka is a delight. Longer than the haiku, with 31 syllables rather than seventeen, it is slightly more relaxed than the shorter form. This allows for a gentle easing of the wording. It gives more scope for narrative, and as the traditional restrictions of the time and nature references are not pressing, offers poets the opportunity to explore wider ranges of subject matter.

Some of the tankas submitted for the competition used clever wordplay, such as an anagram in a crossword setting. Others shared a joke or made a complaint. Several entries touched on loss, and in these the brief form let writers highlight a single, poignant symbol of loss, making the poems affecting and effective. There were tankas of battery hens and stalking cats, market gardens and garden wildernesses, childhood and advancing age, the start of a relationship and the end of one.

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