KidPoWriMo Day 17 ~ Tanka

Our Wednesday haiku adventures have led us first to 5-7-5 (17 syllable haiku) and then to six word haiku. I would rather not use the word “haiku” to describe poems that are much larger than 17 syllables because there are larger forms of poetry. These poems could fit into these other descriptions. Tanka is one of these slightly larger poetic forms.

Poetic word of the day: tanka (click here to see this word defined on

The easiest way to describe tanka is to add two 7-syllable lines to the American 5-7-5 haiku format.

So, you will have five lines and the syllables per line will be in this order: 5-7-5-7-7.

Although this is 14 syllables larger than haiku and you get to say almost twice as much as you can say in a 5-7-5 haiku, I encourage you to make the most of all the syllables you have just as you would be when writing haiku.

If you have any haiku that you think need more words to be the poem you want it to be, try remixing it into a tanka.

You may start by moving the lines around. The five syllable lines can switch places and the seven syllable line can go in one of three places in the tanka. You may also add two syllables to one or both of the five syllable lines. Then once you write whatever lines are missing, you will have a tanka.

Let’s go through this creative process together. I will create as I write.

PROMPT: Write a tanka poem by remixing an existing haiku by you or someone else.

I am going to remix a 4-line haiku poem entitled “Bad Morning” by Langston Hughes into my own tanka (the title and author’s name link to the poem on the All Poetry site). I like his haiku because he sneaked in a rhyme.

Pick your haiku or write one to get started.

Here is my version of Langston Hughes’ 17 syllables. I have reworked them into 3 lines:

(5) Oh, Lord have mercy!

(7) I’m sitting here frustrated

(5) Shoes are mis-mated.

Next, I will write an original haiku poem inspired by this one:

(5) No tissues in sight,

(7) I need to suppress a sneeze!

(5) Heaven help me please!

by Cheryl Crockett inspired by Langston Hughes’ “Bad Morning”

Notice, my haiku has a different topic and is unique and original.

Next, I can take take one or both of my 5 syllable lines and make them into 7 syllables by adding two.

(7) THERE ARE no tissues in sight

(7) OH LET heaven help me please!

As I build my tanka, I can use these lines in either of their 5 or 7 syllable forms, edit them again or write new lines.

Now, my haiku has a complete message, but as a tanka, it needs more information. I will think about other things that accompany a sneeze and a need for tissues or a substitute for tissues. This will help me create a word list that I can expand into phrases.

(1) Cold

(1) Flu

(1) Dust

(2) Shirt sleeve

(2) Paper

(2) Towels

(2) Pollen

(2) Disease

(3) Allergies

(3) Infection

(3) Contagious

(4) Toilet tissue

Now I can finish my tanka by expanding my haiku:

(5) Pollen fills my lungs.

(7) There are no tissues in sight.

(5) But with all my might,

(7) I need to suppress a sneeze!

(7) Oh, let heaven help me please!

by Cheryl Crockett

How did your tanka develop? If you would like to share it, feel free to do so as a comment below this post.

FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN:  Read some haiku that you have written using the prompts earlier during #KidPoWriMo, or find some on the internet. You can do this by typing “HAIKU” into your favorite search engine. Talk to your child(ren) about each haiku and ask them what else might have happened before, during or after the story or message in the haiku. Help your child(ren) to create 7 syllable lines based on the details they imagine. Add these lines to the haiku to make a tanka.

With each of these exercises, because your children may need help writing from an older person, make sure to tell them that you are “making poetry together“. This tradition will stay with them and they will understand that poetry is important to you and it will become important to them, too.


KidPoWriMo Day 3 ~ Haiku? Nice to meet you!

After I published my Day 2 post, my phone started to percolate with e-mail notices that people were liking or following KidPoWriMo. A few also commented or re-tweeted my posts of the Day 2 link. On Google+, 8 people joined in just a few hours.

Now that we have reached Day 3, please know that anyone may start at any time during the month and do any challenge in any order. If you are inspired to Day 2 on Day 4, go right ahead.


When introduced to haiku, especially in elementary school, we learn to count our syllables. We create a poem by writing a five syllable line, then a seven syllable line, followed by another line with five syllables while avoiding rhyme. Then, before sharing the haiku, we count the syllables in the finished poem to make sure they add up to 17. And while listening to others share their haiku, we count their syllables, too. I know you have done it. I have, too.

Poetic Word of the Day: “HAIKU” (click here to see the definition in

When you look up the word “haiku” in any English Dictionary, you will find something like this definition. Many haiku poets are committed to 17 syllables and the 5-7-5 arrangement of syllables. Since this form of poetry originated in the Japanese language, many haiku are translated for those who read and speak other languages to enjoy. Many attempts have been made also to translate the rules of making haiku to other languages.

Unfortunately, some rules of the Japanese language do not translate well to other languages, like English. What poets in America understand about haiku likely came from someone’s interpretation or best guess at how Japanese haiku might work in English.

People’s  ideas about English haiku vary. Some of them disagree about whether 17 syllable haiku should be the rule. One of the reasons for this is that an English haiku has more information in 17 syllables. Its Japanese translation would be a much larger poem, if it contained the same message. Because of this, some poets think English haiku should be shorter: much less than 17 syllables.

Because I think 17 syllable haiku is just as valid as other, shorter kinds, this month, we will write haiku in different ways, on different days. For our first KidPoWriMo haiku, we will use the most popular, basic and familiar approach to building haiku in English.

PROMPT: Write a 17 syllable haiku about something in nature. Do your best to put 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second line and 5 in the third line. If you have trouble with the 5-7-5 format, work on making your syllables add up to 17.

Twitter is a popular place for haiku because it is nearly impossible to exceed the 140 character limit when writing 17 syllables. If you have a Twitter account, type #haiku in the search bar to see what people are writing. Literally, thousands of haiku are posted to Twitter every week. You can find two very active haiku communities on Google+ and lots of haiku groups on Facebook. And I am one of the countless poet/bloggers who are writing one haiku per day and posting them on-line.

FOR PARENTS WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN: Find some haiku you like and read them with (or to) your child(ren). If you do not own any haiku books, you may find haiku for free at any of the following places:

– public library

– search on your favorite search engine using keywords: free, haiku, poetry, children

– check your favorite on-line bookstore for free sample previews of books of haiku

– search on wordpress, blogger, tumblr, or your favorite blogging site. Many hundreds post haiku on these sites everyday. My haiku may be found organized individually on Blogger (click here), and organized in weekly groupings on WordPress (click here), if you are interested.

Thanks for joining me for our first haiku day of the month. I look forward to reading your poems.


Welcome to KidPoWriMo!

Kid’s Poetry Writing Month (abbreviated “KidPoWriMo”) is an on-line poem-per-day summer writing project for Elementary, Junior/Middle and Senior High School students. It is a fun way for students to be creative and academically engaged during their summer vacation from school.

Each day, participants may choose to write a poem on any topic, or they can use the daily prompts found on this site.


Day 1   ~   Favorite Words & Rhyme

IMPORTANT: This page is under construction & will be updated throughout the month. F.A.Q.s may be relocated to another page on this site.

F.A.Q. (Foreseen Anticipated Questions):

1. What’s a …”WRI-MO”?

WRI-MO (I pronounce it “REE-MO”) is a short way of saying “WRITING MONTH”. You can find some kind of writing month on-line throughout the year. I have participated in ones for haiku, poetry and songwriting. A very popular one, for novel writing, happens monthly with a new group of participants joining each time the page in the calendar flips.

2.How do I participate in KidPoWriMo?

Visit this site each day to read the prompt. Then write a poem. Post your poem on-line with the hashtag “#KidPoWriMo”.

Click here to visit KidPoWriMo on Facebook (all are welcome to join).

Click here to visit KidPoWriMo on Google+ (an open G+ community).

3. Can I write my poem about anything?

Yes! The prompts are suggestions to help you if you need an idea to get started writing your daily poem. If you any prompt inspires you, feel free to use it.

CAUTION: As you write, just be careful not to violate the terms of the site where you are posting your poems. Some social sites may shut down your account if your post contains threatening, bullying or otherwise abusive language.

4. What if I have never written a poem before? Do I have to be a poet to participate?

If you have never written a poem, KidPoWriMo may be perfect for you. If you are a poet (who has written a poem or two or more before), you already know this is the place to be.

5. Where should I post my poems on-line?

You may post your poems almost anywhere you like: Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tout, SoundCloud, etc. No matter where post on-line, be sure to use the hashtag: #KidPoWriMo.

6. Do I have to type my poems or can I post video, audio or photography?

Be as creative as you like. You may type your poems or take a photograph of the poem on paper. You can record the sound of your voice as you read your poem and post it to or you can recite your poem in front of a video camera and upload it to YouTube. Post one way or mix it up. You may choose to post the same poem in all, or any combination of ways.

7. My child is too young to use social media. Can an adult post poetry written by a child?

Yes. Parents and legal guardians may post poems for their children. In these cases, photos of the child’s work would be excellent if shared on your favorite photo sharing site.

8. How can I see poems by others who are participating?

Search using the hashtag: #kidpowrimo

9. What if I only want to write my poems in my notebook?

That’s fine. It just means that other participants on-line won’t be able to read them. Be sure to show your notebook to your teacher when you return to school. This project may make you eligible for extra credit.

10. What about Copyrights?

All poets sharing using KidPoWriMo retain the ownership of their poems. Whenever you participate in any on-line writing, you are sharing publicly. The legal protection you can get through the United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress is always a good idea.

11. I have graduated from High School already and want to write #kidpowrimo poems. How can I participate?

Thanks for your interest! Please share #KidPoWriMo with children, parents, day-care providers, educators and summer camp directors you know (if an older person wants to write poems, too, let’s just keep it a secret from the younger people). daily writing opportunities include #OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month), #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), #NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month) and #NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month).

12. I am a teacher. May I use #KidPoWriMo in my classroom?