, , ,

Happy New Year 2017 poets! I’m wishing you all peace, prosperity and all things good in the coming year. This is Gayle of Bodhirose’s Blog and I’m pleased to be able to offer the first Form-For-All of the new year.

Several of my family members (8 of us!) decided to ring in the new year in Savannah, Georgia. We’ve never gone away at this time of year and certainly not with so many of us.  But we love Savannah and decided to rent a beautiful home in the hub of the city.  I’ll have to let you know how it went at another date since I’m writing this before our trek takes place.

But getting back to my task at hand, today I’ll be telling you about the Chōka. The Choka or Long Poem is believed to be the most intricate of Japanese poetry and was used to tell a story; many were epic with over 100 lines.  This form was popular between the 1st and 13th centuries, the earliest example was discovered in the 1st century and described a battle.  It was 149 lines long.  The Choka had a tradition of being recited in a high-pitched voice.

This form is based on a series of Katauta joined together. The Katauta is considered the basic unit of Japanese poetry using either the 17 (5-7-5) unit onji or the 19 (5-7-7) unit onji.  In Western terms an onji is what we call a syllable.  Many of us are familiar with these particular onji as we have used them in writing haiku, tanka and sedoka.

The Choka is an unrhymed poem alternating five and seven syllables that ends with an extra seven syllable line. You can use the 17 or 19 onji (syllable) style.  It can be any number of lines that you choose.

When delving into Japanese forms and doing research, the information can be quite involved and perhaps daunting so I’ve chosen to keep it simple as an introduction to our group of poets who perhaps haven’t been inducted into the deep and meaningful culture that is Japanese poetry and all it entails.



Vintage Art; publicdomainpictures.net

Tale of Honor by Judi Van Gorder at Poetry Magnum Opus

fresh snow crunches under foot
narrow mountain path
traveled by lone samurai
seeker of vengeance
returned from war, tracks his prey
young brother’s killers…

at rise of the waning moon
sneak thieves strike village
novice boy challenged jackals
dagger drawn thrust low
youngster’s entrails ripped and spilled
cowards run to hills
with sun high in winter sky
sibling soldier stalks
prowling panther poised to kill

disciplined, steadfast
trained warrior against pack
jackals ring soldier
jab, snap, samurai honor
blood on Kilimanjaro

And one of my own:

The River’s Path; a Choka by Gayle Walters Rose

with eyes gently closed
third eye streaming energy
I feel the river
my mind loose and free, follows
its path, moves downstream
flow is effortless and calm
eddy of water
catches twigs, leaves and debris
trapped but not knowing struggle
they dislodge and float onward
all moves as it should
no tension is inherent
nothing impedes its
progress, even whilst frozen
and its reflection opaque

So today our prompt is to tell a story in the Choka poetic tradition. I believe that all topics are fair game, although I found that many were accounts that commemorated public events; so share a tale with us and channel the historical and significant storytelling culture of the Japanese.

Here is how to participate in the prompt:

  • Write your poem.
  • Click on Mr. Linky and enter your name where indicated, copy the URL of your poem and enter it into the space provided and then click “Enter.”
  • There you will find links to all the other poets. Others will join during the next 48 hours so check back for more reading.
  • After linking, leave a comment or join in with our discussions.  We love to hear from you and get to know you better.
  • Read and comment on other poet’s work, we all come here to have our poems read and to be acknowledged.
  • Promote the poetry that you like on the social media of your choice.
  • Please link back to dVerse from your site.
  • Enjoy and have fun!