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RENKU: linked collaborative verses: TRIPARSHVA 15 & 16 Call for 17!

Sabaki (lead poet) - Linda Papanicolaou



POST: Choice of verses 14 & 15. Call for verse 17

10th JULY 2022

Oh, such beautiful offers came in for this verse. I feel bathed in the moonlight. This lot, which is the penultimate verse of the Ha, is traditionally given to the autumn moon. It’s called the “moon seat.” You will have noticed that the schema has a moon verse at the end of the Jo, but it’s the moon in one of the other seasons— in our case, winter. Of the four temperate. one season. In the Japanese calendar, winter and summer are the “minor seasons,” while spring and autumn are the “major seasons,” symbolizing the concepts of transition and impermanence that are central to Buddhism. I’ve seen references that the moon in renku represents the Buddha. In other words, it has transcendent meaning.

You may also have noticed that the Renku schema does not proceed through the seasons in chronological order. It consciously avoids this in favor of crisscrossing through the center of the calendar, like the spokes of a wheel or a mandala. The idea is to include as much as you can of the variety of human experiences. If a topic comes back, as is required of the moon verses. the trick is to treat it in a way that it’s not simply repeating. With the moon, I generally try to use the re-seasoning of the moon in the Jo to explore different aspects of the moon — its phases, light, shadows, etc. and let the major moon first at the end of the hall be the full moon shining In the clarity of an autumn night. Our renku seemed to want it otherwise. We have a resplendent full snow moon verse in the Jo, while conversely many of the offers that came in for the autumn moon seat were a new moon, moonset, moon glow, aura, and moon viewing. Rather than trying to control a renku, it’s always best to be open to what it says it wants, so this is the direction we’ve taken.


As I looked through all the wonderful offers, the offer that kept drawing me back was one by Priti that spoke of moonlight on the water in a storm sewer and a stream. It linked beautifully to the shadows verse, and see how it has transformed the scene:

a crick in the neck

after Sistine Chapel

shadows lengthen

into this new bite in the air

moonbeams dipping

into a storm drain and a stream

with the same alacrity


At this point, we have one more autumn verse to complete the Ha, and since we have one that fits the slot nicely, I would like to place it now. It is a verse about autumn leaves that Amrutha offered for the first autumn slot:

whispering of autumn leaves

rolls into a pyramid

The verse does require some editing because we have named the season in the Hokku and you can only do that once in a renku. Initially, I thought the problem could be solved simply by deleting “autumn,” because we still understand that these are fallen leaves. The problem inside the problem, however, is how we define the divisions of the season in the calendar, and how kigo express the change from one season to the next.

My own western calendar demarcates autumn from the autumn equinox to the winter solstice, and for us, the entire phenomenon of autumn leaves spans from the changing of color to the raking up of all those fallen leaves into piles for burning or composting. The Japanese calendar centers autumn on the equinox and the kigo related to autumn leaves cover simply the early faces from color changing through the actual falling. Dry leaves on the ground and raking leaves or winter Kigo. Not that there is a right or wrong here – it is one of the cultural differences that have opened up in the saijiki as renku has become international.

If you’d like to read more, here is the URL for the Worldkigo Database’s informative entry on fallen leaves:

For me, living where the changing colors in fall of leaves of deciduous trees are central to the autumn season, I want to be true to my own experience of the season, while also respecting the traditional saijiki. The solution was to change Amrutha’s “autumn leaves” to “falling leaves,” which is a late autumn kigo. It did trigger one more edit, changing the present participle “whispering” to “the whisper.”

Amrutha’s verse is a fitting end to both our Autumn sequence and the Ha. Each time I read it I’m drawn in more. Is it the leaves themselves that are rolling into a pile, or is it literally as the verse says, that the sound is rolling? There’s a sense-switching that carries into the contrast between the rolling action and the hard corners of the pyramid.

What’s the significance of the pyramid? An Egyptian pyramid, a Mayan pyramid, a South Indian temple pyramid, I.M.Pei’s Louvre pyramid in Paris, or have the leaves simply blown into a courtyard corner that has given them this shape? I think about the significance that we humans have given these elemental geometric building shapes across the millennia. According to an Arab proverb, Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids. What an appropriate way to conclude a season of transition and impermanence!

Here is the full sequence. even with this long close reading that I have done, there is still more to see in the first sequence. What do you see?

a crick

in the neck

after Sistine Chapel / Sanjukta Asopa

shadows lengthen

into this new bite in the air / Sushama Kapur

moonbeams dipping

into a storm drain and a stream

with the same alacrity / Priti Aisola

the whisper of falling leaves

rolls into a pyramid / Amrutha V. Prabhu


With the first 17, we are beginning the Kyu, the third and final side of our Renku.”Kyu” Means “fast close,” and the nature of the verses we want in the section changes yet again. The topics of discussion are lighter, not edgy or complex, and avoid literary, political, or current events references that would take readers out of the poem. Returning to that analogy of the progress of a party, we are now at the point where the party is winding down and people are preparing to take their departure. This side will have a monsoon verse and the renku’s three-season verses.

Leading the side off, verse 17 will be non-season. The requirements are

  • 3 lines, non-seasonal

  • person or place (non-person) as you prefer

  • Even though we're on a new side, as always link to the previous verse, and shift away from the leap over the verse. Here they are again:

  • Before you post, do a bit of self-critique. Have you checked (as best you can) that your verse follows the required criteria? How does it link to the previous verse? How does it shift away from the leap-over verse? What new topics or things does it introduce to the renku?


Each participant may offer two submissions, posted together in the same comment, with your name as you would like it to appear in the renku. Instructions for submitting remain as last time.

The deadline is 48 hours from now. We follow Indian Standard Time (IST). This POST will go up on 10 July at 6 A.M. So on 12 July at 6 A.M, the window closes (IST). All 17th verse offers must be posted on this thread BEFORE 6 A.M on 12 July.


1. Jo

house warming …

all the flavours of summer

on a dining table / Firdaus Parvez

a dozen ripened mangoes

from the neighbour next door / Kala Ramesh

the gleeful shouts

of street kids rolling

a bicycle tyre / Priti Aisola

an airplane through the clouds

in an indigo twilight / Margherita Petriccione

so close

the snow moon

envelops the field / Angiola Inglese

crackling silence as we bend

over the chess board / Sushama Kapur

2. Ha

caparisoned elephants

raising their trumpets amid

the village prayer beats / Lakshmi Iyer

a pied crested cuckoo

on a telephone wire / Marcie Wessels

after the downpour

she squeezes our clothes

under the banyan tree / Milan Rajkumar

a backlit craving races

into an embrace / Kavita Ratna

those dreams

of my first love

once again / Arvinder Kaur

the merry go round horse

stopped on a high note / Robert Kingston

a crick

in the neck

after Sistine Chapel / Sanjukta Asopa

shadows lengthen

into this new bite in the air / Sushama Kapur

moonbeams dipping

into a storm drain and a stream

with the same alacrity / Priti Aisola

the whisper of falling leaves

rolls into a pyramid / Amrutha V. Prabhu


Side one - jo

hokku summer

wakiku summer

daisan non season

4 ns

5. winter moon

6 ns


Side 2 - ha

7 ns

8 monsoon

9 monsoon love

10 ns lv

11 ns lv

12. ns

13 ns

14 autumn

15 au moon

16 autumn


Side 3 - kyu

17 ns (we are here now!)

18 monsoon

19 ns

20 spring

21 sp blossom

ageku - sp


Kondo and Higginson, “Link and Shift, A Practical Guide to Renku Composition”:

Ferris Gilli, “English Grammar: Variety in Renku”:

Richard Gilbert’s “Muki Saijiki”:

*** *** *** *** Linda, The renku is moving along so well. _()_ Priti's moon verse is gorgeous. Congrats to Amrutha too - your word choice of 'pyramid' is unusual and stunning.

166 views25 comments


Priti Aisola
Priti Aisola

What I would like to offer:

the wind in her hair

as she leans out

of the train door

before the cave shrine

the monkeys eye her bulging

cloth bag

Priti Aisola


Priti Aisola
Priti Aisola

Thank you so much, Linda, and all poet-friends here, for lovely words of encouragement. Congratulations, Amrutha.


Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh

moonbeams dipping

into a storm drain and a stream

with the same alacrity / Priti Aisola

the whisper of falling leaves

rolls into a pyramid / Amrutha V. Prabhu

trekking on Himalayas

as layers

of our false selves peel off

picking up

her full skirt of three tiers

the dancer’s feet all a blur

Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh

Thanks a ton, Arvinder. _()_


angiola inglese
angiola inglese

Thanks Linda, congratulations to Priti and Amrutha!! My offers

the air

lifts her skirt

as he climbs the stairs


in a low voice let's sing once more the words of our song


Margherita Petriccione
Margherita Petriccione

Thanks Linda, your choices are more and more intriguing and your clarifications more interesting. Congratulations to Priti and Amrutha

my proposals:

in the garden

a volcano of sand

is crumbling

with ticking

of wool needles


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