Gogyohka: Freeverse 5-Line Poetry

[from http://5gyohka.com/gogyohka(English).htm]

…Traditional Tanka is based on a 5,7,5,7,7 syllable pattern. For languages such as English, however, it is difficult to compose verse within these restraints. Non-Japanese Tanka is, therefore, written freely in five lines, like Gogyohka. That is to say, Gogyohka is already being written internationally in the form of Tanka.

While a degree of freedom is inevitable in Tanka, in the case of Gogyohka the freedom of the verse is natural, and this can be used to great effect: the freedom of expression in Tanka is passive, whereas the freedom in Gogyohka is active and vibrant…

…Here are some samples of Gogyohka.


What kind of

stained glass

have your

rose-coloured cheeks

passed through

Enta Kusakabe


Three people

listen to the doctor’s explanation.

He said this, he said that


what did he actually say?

Haru (Woman in her 50s)


My younger sister


“I like everything about Nao”

Does she like his “intestines”, “bowels”

and “anus”?

Onishi Maho (2nd year primary school student)


Submerged in the bathtub

mother is secretly


thinking about me and my sister

when we had no breasts



“Let’s roll”

The passenger’s


last words

reverberate around NY

Yumi Kochi (A student of medicine at Columbia University, New York)


No more time

for poetry!

Now I must compose myself

and drive

to work.

Eugene Uttley (A wage slave in Indiana, USA)


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