More Than Two Sides, a Tanka About Truth [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

So, this month, our Poetry Princess challenge was my choice, so it’s extra frustrating that I found it SO challenging. I chose tanka (non-rhyming form with a 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count) as our form, because I like short poems. But I also wanted our poems to connect us more to each other. So I assigned each one of us another poet’s January poem to use as a starting point (and these assignments were made last year, before anyone had even written their January poem). My starting off point was Tanita Davis’ surprising and funny and true “Soothsayer,” which you can read here. So I wanted to write about truth and how it has many faces. (It’s kind of funny that the narrator of my poem sort of disagrees with the narrator of hers, because I tend to be a black and white thinker in many moral issues.)

But I also tried mixing in my calendar poem exercise, using a picture and three assigned words. I struggled all freaking week with it. Here’s what I ended up with. I do not care for it.


My donated words were “sloth,” “ute,” and “knot,” suggested by x, y, and z respectively. Now I LOVE a good poetry game, but I guess I just set myself too many challenges here: the form, the other poem as a jumping off point, an image (of a frozen waterfall), AND three random words gifted by friends. You know, sometimes the games work, and sometimes they don’t.

So I scrapped that and just wrote a tanka using Tanita’s visceral poem as my starting point.

More Than Two Sides

It still needs work, but I do like it better, at least! That next to last line reads “shape-shifting, raw, and mottled,” by the way.

And I can’t wait to see what my Poetry Sisters have come up with!

Kelly As usual, Kelly has great links and info about the form itself!

Andi is an essential part of our group, but she is not writing at the moment. She will be back!

Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with Donna at Mainely Write! I always enjoy her 15 Words or Less contributions on Thursdays:>)





14 Responses

  1. Reading your challenge of poetry game aspects made me laugh! I can see myself doing that. I love a challenge, but you can take on a few too many specifics that kill it — or at least make you wish it had died! Lol! Still, it is fun to do it…like a puzzle. I love the card and watercolor format for all these.

  2. Sometimes form is just what I need to say what I want to say, but combining so many constraints (challenges) can force the clay into something completely different. I think you were able to say what you wanted to in the second poem. But the first one has intriguing word choice.

  3. “Truth is just jasper” is astonishingly gorgeous. Never would I have put it that way, but not that I’ve heard it, I can’t stop repeating it. It’s not that I think truth can’t be sharp-edged but you’ve hit on the way truth can steadily grow…spread…be heard, even if mottled shifting and raw—and upend things just the same as a flip of a coin. I love it.

  4. Jasper, as in the gemstone?
    Okay, huh. Jasper is an aggregate, which truth ALSO can be, made up, as it is, at times, of a bit of this and that… and yes — jasper comes in at least four or five colors, based on how much other mineral content it has (the common red has iron, I think? yes. Iron) (Which is its own unyielding truth… ooh, I like that.) I just never would have come up with jasper, but it is indeed mottled, shifting, and raw.

    Laura, your BRAIN. It’s just… full of all the natural world, and I love how it appears and reappears in your poetry.

  5. Woah.…I’ll admit I was momentary confused there (before reading the comments), because to me Jasper is a small resort town in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta…beautiful, but not really applicable to the rest of the poem. 😀

  6. You know that I love “truth is not a coin”.…
    But also, I love you sharing work that you don’t love.
    Your openness makes it easier for me to feel brave too.…

  7. I like hearing your ideas about your own challenges, Laura, and what feels “right” to you. Like others, I love “truth is not a coin”, too, but also like the image of the “frosty knots”.

  8. What an incredible way to challenge yourself instead — this post is perfect proof of the how words can be sharpened to such a fine point until they glisten and cut into one’s insides. 🙂

  9. Loved reading about your process here, Laura. I do like the image of the “silky waterfall” tied up “in glittering frosty knots,” but “truth is not a coin” is brilliant!

  10. I spy an Aussie ute running amok in your first poem, Laura. Yes, definitely a challenge set for you there — though that frosted knot of waterfall is beautiful, and that’s the truth.

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