Wakusei – A Collection of Tanka Poetry

I shall attempt to diversify my posts through various writing forms on this WordPress journey. (Use this space to stretch what’s left of my dying creativity) The first project I’m embarking on is named, “Wakusei”. It translates to “planets” in the Japanese language.

Why was Japanese the chosen language for the project’s name? Well the entire essence of this project is based on and dedicated to Japanese poetry. My decision was purely based on my long withstanding interest in the Japanese culture. I find that an excellent way to explore a culture would be to understand and appreciate it through one’s own area of passion which to me is writing.

What is Tanka? Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry which goes according to syllable-count and follows a particular structure. It requires 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second, 5 syllables in the third, 7 syllables in the fourth and fifth. Tackling this poetry form was no easy feat. I had to ensure I brought justice to the subjects in my poems, I ran all my Wakusei poems through an online syllable counter (courtesy of Mr Google) just to hit those perfect 5 or 7 syllables. It was definetely strenuous mental work for me and this is where perhaps I’ve unravelled a philosphical lesson that the Japanese meant to teach.

The gem always lies in the process. The end product may look simple but the process to produce such simplicity is definitely gruelling. The more simplicity in the product, the more work done in the process.

In the end, its all about attaining top-notch perfection.  Behind the perfection there’s a driving force. What’s mine? Them.  Which brings me to…

Why specifically “Wakusei”? The subjects of these poems are some of the people who have impacted me the most in my TP life thus far. One commonality that links them together to be in Wakusei is the strength in their individualities. The imprints they’ve left behind in my mind with their distinct personalities are truly unforgettable. They are the planets in my galaxy; independant of one another yet without one the whole system collapses. That’s what they mean to me in my story. Without one, my story will collpase. Each has played an inaugral part in shaping who I am.



Emotional Vulnerability

It has dawned upon me that I find difficulty  in expressing my emotions to two particular groups of people. They seize two extreme opposing ends of the spectrum. One would be strangers and the other would be loved ones that I am extremely close to. It is normal of me to delve and discuss my feelings and emotions with others. I am able to express myself coherently yet when it comes to these 2 groups I crash into an ominous hard wall. There is a fear factor that I face. A fear that I can’t quite decipher nor place a finger on.

The loved ones that I am extremely close to only consists of three people; my father, mother and grandparents. When I am with them, emotions are a taboo. Crying is completely out of the question. Melancholy turns into poison. I would try my utmost best to contain my sadness and tears inside of me whenever a misfortune happens in the family. However,  in the rare times when emotions do spill out they become agonizingly shameful. In my perspective, there is nothing worse in this world than crumbling into an emotional wreck right before your parents’ eyes. There is a mantra in my mind that I must be strong for them. If I were weak how would I be able to support them?

So what do my loved ones and strangers share in common? With them, I portray an image of perfection. That’s it. I idealize myself as the perfect, strong-headed and flawless daughter who will take everything into her stride. The confident stranger who has her life sorted out.

With my friends and close friends my emotions are definitely more transparent because I guess I’m alright with them witnessing my weaknesses. After all, I do need to vent some emotions out lest I turn insane.