#TheWombwellRainbow #Poeticformschallenge last week was #Katauta . Enjoy examples by Robert Frede Kenter, Tim Fellows and Jane Dougherty and read how they felt when writing one.



Plunge into cold sea.
A soul is cleansed. Will silver
darting fish flee or stay?


When sardines aren’t thrown
into the sea do seagulls
follow you or become lost?


White elephants stand
in the desert. Watch the past
fade. Will the blood ever dry?


If I fall and crash
onto these salty sharp rocks
will you finally move on?

How  Did It Go?

I managed a few variants, only one of which properly meets the Katuata brief in terms of being an unanswered vague love poem

Tim Fellows


You look unhappy
I smile try to take your hand
you flinch in irritation.

Sorrow my burden
a bird’s broken wing—no smile
will mend the bone make it fly.

Selective vision

Window full of sun
the rose garden of my dreams
birdsong welcoming me home.

You smell the roses
hear only the birds’ sweet songs
not the drip of the roof leaks.


What use dead gardens
full of snow where nothing grows
and spring so distant?

Winter garden sleeps
I watch the birds feed bringing
spring in their shining wing-dance.

How did it go?

I’m not a big fan of haiku or Japanese poetry in general. The katauta is a half poem, addressed by one half of a couple to the other. I’ve chosen to write both halves, two katauta making a sedoka, a poem that looks at the same subject from a different angle, which I find more satisfying than the one side of the story.

Jane Dougherty

Four Katauta


Scattered broken pearls
Whose neck did your string adorn
Thunder and lightning all night


You curl on the bed
Why do yellow and red leaves
Spin with the course of the river


When fingers trace your arms ask
If blossoms in trees
Are brighter still than moonlight


Rural highways hail
The months we spent together
Dangerous roads which way now

How Did It Go?

It is interesting to me that this form, Katauta, perhaps the earliest of Japanese poetic forms, is specifically not only about questions, but also about lovers. I felt a noirish tinge and arch romanticism, the moment when pleasure turns to anxiety and drama, or the knowing melody, the forge of obsessive discourse, sequence of events that leads up to an after. How do place and ‘state of mind’ move in a kinetic confluence of asking, reflection, narrative, and interiority. The mix of ‘visual’ images, mystery and syllables show the brilliance of this compact ancient form, its value in conveying intuitive emotion. Although I found this difficult – to find ways to break out of predictable tropes, it became apparent to me as I worked on a series of variants, both rich and hollow that it requires a lot of rethinking of image and order to achieve, perhaps the possibility of the echo, the shiver.

Robert Frede Kenter, publisher http://www.icefloepress.net, editor, widely published author, and visual artist.

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