In this class, we'll explore the centuries old form of Japanese poetry called tanka from which haiku are derived. We'll learn how to write tanka that are both simple and complex and metaphorical and concrete. We'll see how we can put together tanka into a sequence and even write a class renga! Finally, we'll learn how to write one of the most beautiful love poems of all--an Imperial Court Tanka.
Previous participation in the beginner Japanese forms class or the intro to Japanese Aesthetics class required. This course is also a prerequisite for the Imperial Court Tanka course.
Week I--Introduction to Tanka and Tanka Techniques
What is the role of the pivot line in tanka? To or not to 5/7/5/7/7 syllabic count? What is the role of breathing in tanka? What are the ten commonly used tanka techniques?
Students will have the opportunity to write tanka and analyze them for breath, the short/long/short/long/long line form, and for techniques used.
Week II--Tanka Sequences
What is a tanka sequence? What is the role of a title in a tanka sequence? What is the difference between a tanka sequence and a renga?
Students will have the opportunity to write an individual tanka sequence with a unifying theme.
What is a renga? Why is it written by more than one person? How complex can a renga be? What is a nijuin renga?
The instructor and the students together as a class will have the opportunity to write a renga.
Week IV--Imperial Court Tanka
What is the history of the Imperial Court Tanka? How can it be used by lovers today? How does one write with a woman's voice? How does one write with a man's voice? How can we utilize the subtlety of the Japanese aesthetic in sensuous poetry?
Students will be able to choose how they wish to write an Imperial Court Tanka. They may write it alone to a lover, living or passed on. They may write it in a group of two. Finally, they can pick an historical couple and imagine what an Imperial Court Tanka would look like between them (Prince William and Kate Middleton, anyone?)
|About The Instructor:
Alvin Thomas Ethington (B.A. With Highest Honors, Oberlin College, 1979; M. Div. With Honors, Yale University, 1983) is a noted teacher, writer, and reviewer. He has taught at Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, California and Triton College, River Grove, Illinois. He prepared community college students for study at major private and public four-year colleges and universities, including Pitzer College, Claremont, California; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and the University of Illinois-Chicago campus.
He is a published author and was recently honored for his haiku. His poem "haiku (empty chair)" is on the audio tour of The Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California, Poets on Site Tour.
He specializes in languages, culture, and religion. He has substituted for the Greek instructor at California State University at Fullerton and has tutored Biblical Hebrew.
He has been a member of FanStory since 2006 and has won Reviewer of the Month six times. He has also performed pre-publication editing for the former Bishop of Los Angeles, Episcopal (The Rt. Rev. Frederick Houk Borsch) and reviewed college textbooks.
His philosophy on teaching comes from his work as a counselor--he believes that teaching should be student-centered and designs his courses according to the students' needs.