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Final tanka thoughts


I will start today with what appears to be a tanka. I say "appears to be" because as a finished product, it qualifies. It was, however, composed in separate parts by two people (or groups of people), and it qualifies as a maekuzuke, a type of humorous verse in which the last two lines are written first, then another writer (or writers) try to top the ending with a three-one set-up. In the time after Basho's death, maekuzuke competitions were all the rage.

Here's today's tanka, which is overall quite funny, in part because if it were true, it would be 100% pathos.

Catching the thief
And looking at him, --
It was my own son!

I want to kill him,
And I don't want to kill him.

For me, the takeaway from this poem is not based in its content, but on the way it was constructed: the last part first. It's a fun way to turn the process around, and also a way of coming up with the emotional takeaway of your tanka first, then finding the "setting" for it later.

Tomorrow, I segue into the renga, which is closely related to haiku and tanka.



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