Step 1: Take a picture. It could be something you see at home or something you encounter on a walk outside.
Step 2: Write a poem. We recommend the tanka form (which is similar to haiku; see the instructions below). But use any form you like.
Step 3 (optional): Post to your preferred social media platform and tag the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation.
In honor of National Poetry Month, and in the spirit of photographer/poet Jun Fujita (whose work appeared in a joint exhibition by the Newberry and the Poetry Foundation this winter), we’re encouraging everyone to document their experiences in these quarantimes.
Start by taking a photo of something that represents your thoughts or feelings right now, or that reflects your approach to getting through this period of social distancing. It could be a nature scene you come across on a walk or a still life in your home.
Then write a poem inspired by that photo. You can choose to write a poem in the tanka style preferred by Jun Fujita, who published Tanka: Poems in Exile in 1923. Or you can write in another style that you may prefer.
Tanka is a short, unrhymed Japanese poem (from tan, “short” and ka, “poem”), often composed of 31 syllables. It is a form of waka, a highly imagistic lyric poem. Many English translations divide tanka into 5 lines of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.
Like many tanka and haiku composers, Jun Fujita did not compose tanka that adhered to strict syllable counts, instead crafting poems that honor the tanka’s movement, sensibility, and shape.