Essays & Articles

Below are some of the essays, articles, editorials, etc., which I have written over the last few decades. They may be of use and interest to tanka, haiku, and cinquain poets, readers, academics, publishers, etc. They are not in chronological order because they were not originally written as an intentional series. I hope you find something here that is worthwhile to you. The bolded initial title of each entry is a live link to the document.

You need a PDF reader to view these essays & articles. We suggest Adobe Acrobat Reader or IrfanView or SumatraPDF at All are free downloads.

Dreaming Room This 2007 editorial in Modern English Tanka is, I think, my most read and commented upon essay. (See, for example, poet and editor Chen-ou Liu’s NeverEnding Story [First English-Chinese Bilingual Haiku and Tanka Blog] post entitled “To the Lighthouse: Denis M. Garrison’s Dreaming Room and Roland Barthes’s Writerly Text“.) The subject is ancient; my little contribution is in offering a modern enunciation of it. For me, the earlier phrase “rhetoric of omission” resonates deeply. “Dreaming room” clearly does that for younger readers and poets. Read & download Dreaming Room here.

Definition of the Ideal Form of Traditional Tanka Written in English, a collaborative essay by Amelia Fielden (Australia), Denis M. Garrison (USA), and Robert D. Wilson (The Philippines) written in 2009, includes my Commentary published in Modern English Tanka, Vol. 3, No. 4, Summer 2009 as part of that issue’s editorial. Read and download the Definition of the Ideal Formhere. As is so often the case, because this essay sought to find common ground between the traditionalist and the innovative wings of the tanka community, its reception was very mixed. Both wings found fault while many unaligned poets and readers found the discussion useful and informative. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has published their own improved definition as a corrective to ours. So it goes.

Defining Tanka is my 2007 essay in Tanka Teachers Guide on the vexed matter of tanka definition. It is a simplified approach but worth consideration. Read and download Defining Tanka here.

Tanka Form Lineation & Line Length as Criteria of Tanka Form is my 2007 essay in Tanka Teachers Guide on technical aspects of tanka form. Read and download Tanka Form here.

Recommended Readings in Tanka Studies is my bibliographical article in Tanka Teachers Guide provided for the guidance of students of tanka, whether or not as poets, academics, or enthusiasts. Read and download Recommended Readingshere.

The Prosody of Cinquains, Thanksgiving Day, 2006 essay in AMAZE: The Cinquain Journal, Vol. 4, No. 4, was written as an update to my original essay, An Introduction to the American Cinquain in AMAZE: The Cinquain Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring & Summer 2002. Use the two links above to read and download each essay. The 2002 essay also is archived offsite here and here. and the 2006 essay here. For tanka fans new to the American Cinquain (aka Crapseian Cinquain), the two forms are very closely related, however, the cinquain is a strict form and tanka in English are generally more variable. Immersion in cinquain and in haiku ultimately led me into tanka fairly well-prepared.

2 Haiku Essays. My 2001 essay “Need for Experimentation: Reflections on Western Poets Writing Haiku” and my 2006 Haiku Harvest editorial “Time for a Truce in the Haiku Wars” which appended the 2001 essay, are both included in the linked document (read and download them here). You can read and download the entire omnibus collection Haiku Harvest: 2000-2006 here.

Crystallines – An essay on the prosody of my own form, the Crystalline, which is a haiku analog in the couplet form, with a later, amended, prosody and examples of my own crystallines. Read and download Crystallines here.

Cinqku – An editorial, examples of my own cinqku, and a brief new article (2020) describing the final prosody of my own form, the Cinqku, a strict form analog of minimalist tanka. Read and download Cinqku here.

Haiku-Senryu Distinction: A Twitter Conversation, discusses this distinction and the various attitudes surrounding it. I have participated in similar discussions regarding the distinction made between tanka and kyoka, arguing in the same vein (see Defining Tanka for an example). This was posted on an earlier blog of mine. Read and download Haiku-Senryu Distinction here.

Haiku Noir – the editorial policy of the ground-breaking webzine Haiku Noir and some examples of the form. Read and download Haiku Noir here. This was expanded into a collection entitled Fire Blossoms: The Birth of Haiku Noir, also on this blog. Click here to read and download Fire Blossoms.

Nautiluses and Fibonaccis I have created three new poetic forms. The “cinqku” and “crystalline” tanka and haiku analogs have become quite popular forms for innovative tanka and haiku poets (see offsite articles on both here). The longer “nautilus” form has a mathematical basis; it is comprised of a Golden Mean stanza bracketed by ascending and descending Fibonacci sequences. My poem, “Nautilus,” the prototype and namesake of the form, has been included in an academic text, Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry. (Internationale Forschungen Zur Allgemeinen & Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft), ISBN 978-9042023703, by Marcia Birken & Anne C. Coon, faculty members at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Read and download my essay, Nautiluses and Fibonaccis, here.

In Praise of Books expresses my fervent appreciation for the printed word. It was first published in The Montserrat Review (April 2009). Read and download In Praise of Books here.

EDUCATIONAL USE NOTICE — Modern English Tanka Press
MODERN ENGLISH TANKA PRESS, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, publisher of the quarterly journal, Modern English Tanka (2006-2009), is dedicated to tanka education in schools and colleges, at every level. It is our intention and our policy to facilitate the use of Modern English Tanka Press publications to the maximum extent feasible by educators at every level of school and university studies. Educators, without individually seeking permission from the publisher, may use Modern English Tanka Press publications, online digital editions and print editions, as primary or ancillary teaching resources. Copyright law “Fair Use” guidelines and doctrine should be interpreted very liberally with respect to Modern English Tanka Press publications precisely on the basis of our explicitly stated intention herein. This statement may be cited as an effective permission to use Modern English Tanka Press publications as a text or resource for studies. Proper attribution of any excerpt to the source Modern English Tanka Press publication is required. This statement applies equally to digital resources and print copies of journals, anthologies, etc.. Individual copyrights of poets, authors, artists, etc., published by Modern English Tanka Press are their own property and are not meant to be compromised in any way by our liberal policy on “Fair Use.” Any educator seeking clarification of our policy for a particular use may email the publisher at We welcome innovative uses of our resources for tanka education.
—The Publisher, Modern English Tanka Press,