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Winner of the on the Newcomer Award for the Study of "Tanka"
Pouring her Heart into 31 Syllables

Ms. Ayako Taguchi

--Coming down the light-blue spiral staircase, you become the fire that burns winter.

The 30 love tankas she wrote using distinctive language were described by the judges as "a fresh and lucid look at love." "Words suddenly come into my mind," says Ms. Taguchi, with bright, intellectual eyes. When asked about the tanka which received as much praise as the above poem -- The person I like always makes me feel scared, whichever corner I turn, I smell chicken rice ?, she replied that, "First I couldn' t choose between chicken curry, beef curry, and pork curry, but then I thought that the sweet-and-sour aroma of chicken rice was somehow connected to the sorrow and pain of love, so I chose chicken rice instead."

It was mid-July when she received word that she had won the Newcomer' s Award. When she was eating dinner in the cafeteria on the Toyama campus, she noticed that there was a message on her answering machine from the person in charge. "It was so unexpected that I was scared out of my wits," she laughs. With no time to catch her breath, there was a request for her to publish 30 of her most recent tankas in the October issue of "Tanka Kenkyu (Study of Tanka)," as the first piece of work she completed after she received the award. While the award-winning "Fuyu no Hi (Winter Fire)" was written in an abstract style, she wrote the tanka series "Jissyu Nisshi (Practice Diary)" about her personal experience doing practice teaching. The deadline of this piece of work was at the same time as her summer intensive course in museum curator practice and her preparation for the graduate school examination.
"I had no time at all, so I wrote the tanka in tears," she laughs, but looking at the high level of the completed piece of work, it is hard to believe that she wrote the tankas during such a busy period.

"People often say to me: "You have talent, but you aren' t good at expressing your feelings." In the future, I have to work on creating a tanka which clearly tells the reader how I am feeling," says Ms. Taguchi. Since the profiles of the contestants were not disclosed in the examination stage, many judges read her award-winning piece of work believing that "an elderly person pretending to be young" wrote it. "I' m afraid that if I convey my negative feelings, they will be a burden for the reader, so I tend to say things indirectly, using gentle, harmless words. Therefore, I cannot express my true feelings." In Waseda Tanka Kai (Waseda' s Tanka Society), which she belongs to, she spends every day bouncing ideas off other students and cultivating her sensitivity.

"I want to be able to express my feelings without being complacent. One day, I hope to be able to express myself, as well as the world around me." Ms. Taguchi' s tanka continue to evolve, slowly and steadily.

The Newcomer Award for the Study of Tanka
It is a gateway to success for young poets, hosted by Tanka Kenkyusha. Every year, the monthly tanka general magazine "Tanka Kenkyu (Study of Tanka)" accepts applications of 30 unreleased, recently completed tanka. The award-winning pieces of work and the selection results are run in the September issue of the same magazine. Starting in 1954 as "The 50 Tanka of the Study of Tanka," in 1958, the name was changed to "the Newcomer Award for the Study of Tanka." Along with "the Award for the Study of Tanka" and "the Award for Reviews of Modern Tanka," there is an award ceremony at the end of September every year where "the Newcomer Award for the Study of Tanka" is awarded.

From the 30 tankas in the award-winning "Fuyu no Hi (Winter Fire)"
Out of the several intertwining "ifs" , only the spoon has an outline. Far away from the balcony, the sun sets, and I write about the magpie in the postscript.

From the 30 tankas in the "Jissyu Nisshi (Practice Diary)"
I turn the pages of the chronology of literature in the handbook, as if touching your hangnail. In one period, writing on the blackboard transforms the chalk into yellow powder.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Ayako Taguchi

Born in 1986 in Ibaraki Prefecture. Graduated from Mito First Senior High school. 4th-year student at the School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences I. Belongs to Waseda' s Tanka Society. As a third-year student in high school, she received an outstanding performance award in the tanka category of the National High School Literary Contest. In 2008, her 30 tanka in "Fuyu no Hi (Winter Fire)" won the 51st Newcomer Award for the Study of Tanka. Her 30 tanka in "Jissyu Nisshi (Practice Diary)," the first piece of work she completed after receiving the award, were published in the October issue of the monthly magazine "Tanka Kenkyu (Study of Tanka)" (Tanka Kenkyusha). Ten other tanka as well as an essay were run in the special feature article, "The Young and Spirited Poets," in the November issue of the same magazine. Her favorite poets include Yoko Nagai, Naoko Azuma, and Kyoko Kuriki.