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Young Writers
Young Writers

Tanka Workshop

Tanka is a Japanese poetic form, that follows a strict format. Traditionally you’d write a tanka about nature, though today they cover many subjects, from pets and friends, to favourite people and hobbies!

 1st line has to have 5 syllables
 2nd line has to have 7 syllables
 3rd line has to have 5 syllables
 4th line has to have 7 syllables
 5th line has to have 7 syllables

A syllable is part of a word which has one vowel sound. For example:

El-e-phant has 3 syllables, whereas Chil-dren has only 2. Sun has 1 syllable and was has 1 so does ball.

If you need a bit of practise to understand syllables, then work out how many syllables these words have:



Here is an example of a Tanka:

Joe had a hair cut (5)
His hair was curly and long (7)
He waited ages (5)
For his hair to be cut short (7)
Then his mum paid the money (7)

Your Turn

Finished? Why not submit your poem to Young Writers and we will enter it into one of our competitions.

Alternatively send your poem to:

Young Writers, Remus House, Coltsfoot Drive, Woodston, Peterborough, PE2 9BF or email it to


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