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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Japanese poetry seems to be gaining greater and greater popularity with Western poets. The much abused Haiku of course has worn the brunt of this assault by everyone from first year poetry teachers and students, to Microsoft and office jokes, but serious poets recognise that this little poem is a truly remarkable art form. The Tanka is also gaining in popularity and rightly so and both of these forms will be dealt with later. Before dealing with these two forms however, there are two other Japanese forms which in my opinion should be discussed, and may interest poets looking for something different. The first form is called the Katuata, and the second the Choka.
The Katuata originally consisted of a poem consisting of 19 sound units or onji, (in the west we would describe this as having a syllable count of 19).
There was a break after the fifth and twelfth onji and this would give us a form structure of. 5 - 7 - 7.
Later poets also wrote using only 17 onji and this gave a form structure of 5 - 7 - 5.

Pasted from http://www.thepoetsgarret.com/Challenge/choka.html#katuata> 
Thanks to the Poetsgarret!

• Katuata, (片歌, side poem or half poem) is emotive verse. Intuitive rather than logical; the katuata asks a sudden question or makes an emotional statement and then responds to it. This is a stand alone, 3 line poem, however it is often written as a side poem to the renga. This dates back to 8th century Japan found in the Manyõshú (the oldest collection of Japanese poetry)

Katuata is:
○ syllabic, 19 syllables or less.
○ usually a tercet. 5-7-7. This can also be reduced to a 5-7-5 syllable count if desired.
○ emotive not necessarily logical. 

lost in haze of doubt 
thoughts of you fog my vision 
will mist clear? in due season 
--- Judi Van Gorder

Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?/topic/1139-katuata-mondo-sedoka/> 
Thanks to Judi Van Gorder of PMO

Example Poem

wanting your embrace
wondering are you awake?

yes sweet I am now

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