Reviewakas

The beauty of the reviewaka is that it distills a book down to its very essence, giving the potential reader a glimpse of the story's soul.  Reviewakas fit right into this day and age of hectic lives, text messaging, and twittering.  With reviewakas, a reader does not have to spend a lot of time reading book reviews but, instead, can go straight to the truly marvelous . . . reading the book!

I created the reviewaka because I love to read, I read a lot, and I wanted to write book reviews to help fellow readers find just-right books for themselves.  However, there are a lot of people out there already who write book reviews -- and some really great reviews at that -- on some really fancy blogs.  So I began thinking about ways to review books differently . . .

My husband suggested writing a book review in haiku form.  I was dubious that I could review a whole book in just seventeen syllables, but I did realize that I sometimes spend more time reading book reviews than reading actual books!  So I did a little research into Japanese poetry and came up with the reviewaka.

The reviewaka is based on the Japanese tanka, a form of poetry that was earlier known as a waka.  By combining the word review with waka, I came up with the reviewaka.

A tanka -- or waka -- adds two additional lines of seven syllables each to the traditional haiku form.  The tanka's form looks like this:

5 syllables
7 syllables
5 syllables

7 syllables
7 syllables.

In a traditional tanka, the first three lines are used for observation while the last two lines are for recording the poet's reflection.

For book reviewakas, the first three lines are used for describing the story, while the final two lines give the reviewer's personal opinion.

For my reviewakas, I generally use the following pattern:

setting info (in 5 syllables)
character info (in 7 syllables)
plot info (in 5 syllables)

personal opinion (7 syllables)
personal opinion continued (7 syllables).

Every once in a while I use creative license and change around which line will give setting, character, or plot information, but for a proper reviewaka you must always use the 5/7/5 + 7/7 pattern with the story description in the first three lines and your personal opinion in the last two lines.

Also see the Quick Guide to Reading a Reviewaka.

Why don't you try to write reviewakas?  Writing a review of a book in thirty-one syllables requires a careful consideration of words if you want to accurately translate the true essence of the story to potential readers, but writing a reviewaka is a fun, creative endeavor -- and you end up with a beautiful poem to boot!

To help you on your way, here is a marvelous site to use in determining the number of syllables in the tricky words -- like medieval or warrior: How Many Syllables.

I am going to begin posting the most marvelous reviewakas submitted by site visitors.  If you would like your original reviewaka to be considered for publication on The Marvelous Site, please click here.

Happy reading.
Happy writing.
All the marvelous,
MM

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