Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, November 20, 2008


It's no secret that I love Japanese poetry forms. While tanka, haiku and renga have gained popularity in recent years, choka is relatively unknown. A choka is structured in the repeated pattern of 5-7-5-7-5-7-5......7-7. Many choka are more than 100 lines long. You can read more about the choka form here.

Here is my attempt at a choka.

calico kitten
in the woods behind our house
hungry, shivering—
bone thin, barely alive—
afraid she might die
I wrapped her in my jacket
carried her inside
gave her warm milk, my blanket
and a promise— to love her.

Although I tried to stick fairly close to the pattern in order to model the form for my students, I'm not happy with the last two lines. Following a structure too closely can detract from the meaning of the poem. I can't think of how I want to revise it right now, , so I'll let it rest a while.
photo: KatRya


  1. Linda,

    I've never heard of the choka. I think the poem works as it is. I often have to set poems aside for a while--and then revisit them.

  2. Thanks, Elaine. There's something about the Japanese forms that is very appealing to me. Maybe I'm a little ADD and need a short form. I also love cinquains, so there's more evidence. : )

  3. Awwww, what a sweet poem! I never heard of a choka before. Thanks for the enlightenment, I'll have to try one :)

  4. Thanks for your kind comment. Choka isn't as popular as the other Japanese forms. I dont' think it's written very often anymore, but it was fun to write one.

  5. Thanks for the sweet words on my blog, Linda! So nice to meet you. Thanks for the exposure to the choka. Your poem is very touching!

  6. Thank you for your comment. I love all the Japanese forms.

    I've been rereading your novel, On Point and enjoying it all over again. Books in verse are very popular with my students.

  7. Oops,I misspelled the title On Pointe. I'm so sorry, Lorie. That's what I get for rushing.