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RENKU - linked collaborative verses. TRIPARSHVA 1

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Sabaki (lead poet) - Linda Papanicolaou



2 June 2022

  1. Thanks to Linda for agreeing to lead a renku for us. I've written quite a few renku with her in the past. I distinctly remember the kasen (36 verses) where Linda was the sabaki - we wrote one verse every day and finished the renku in just about 40 days!! Here is the link, if you want to read it: I have a great fascination for renku - for I firmly believe it lays the basic foundation for all things you would want to know when writing haiku: like a full-fledged haiku with a kire (cut) with proper kireji (punctuation) (which is called the hokku) and alternating between a season verse and a non-season verse. The importance of the moon and the blossom verse. The variety in the verses, the strict adherence to not lashing back and always going forward and lastly the ability and the humbleness to accept what the sabaki (lead poet) rules! A great learning curve. ................................................. Over to Linda Papanicolaou 1. INTRODUCTION

Welcome to our Renku. Whether you already know and love collaborative linked verse, or are wondering what it’s all about, I hope you’ll join in and have fun.

We will be doing a Triparshva. This is a 22-verse renku form that was developed by Norman Darlington. The name he chose is Sanskrit for “trilateral,” referring to its three sides or sections. Triparshva retains the features of traditional renku as practised by Basho, but it’s a short and simple modern form. I’ll explain in more detail as we go on. Meanwhile, you may read more about Triparshva in a 2005 article by John Carley in Simply Haiku:, and see another example of one I led in 2015 at The Haiku Foundation

A bit about season words: Half of the verses in a renku employ kigo, or season references, to set them in time as the poem moves around the year. For this we use a saijiki, a list of recognized words to signal and evoke the weather, foods and festivals, animals or plants that we experience at the time of year.

There are several good online saijikis that you may consult as you prepare to offer verses to the Renku. One Is "The 500 Essential Japanese Season Words“ by Kenkichi Yamamoto, Kris Young Kondo, and William J. Higginson on Higginson’s Renku Home page: ( Another may be found on the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society’s website ( A third is the rich and thorough Worldkigo Database, ( began in association with the World Haiku Club.

But the season word list I would like to use most often in our renku is your own: the Subcontinent Saijiki here at Triveni Haikai India ( As we get underway, please bookmark and familiarize yourself with it. In our Call for Hokku, the first verse, I’ll be asking you for a verse that sets the renku clearly in time and place: June in India.

Our routine will be that I will post a specific call for each verse, giving everyone 48 hours to post your offers. When the window closes, I will announce the selected verse, place it in the renku, and post a call for the next verse. We'll need one day in between to decide and upload the chosen verse.

The following is a rough template, adapted from the schemes given by Carley in his Simply Haiku article. Depending on the needs of the renku, it is subject to modification as we progress:

Side 1 - jo

Side 2 - ha

Side 3 - kyu

2. CALL FOR HOKKU: Traditionally, renku is composed by a group of poets who have been invited to come together under one roof, at the appointed time, to eat, drink, enjoy each other’s company, and write a collaborative poem under the direction of a sabaki who may have been a renku master like Matsuo Basho. With adaptations, we can create a renku in cyberspace, but we still think in terms of a renku party.

The first side, the jo, is comprised of the first six verses. The renku—writers—are arriving, looking around, greeting the host and honored guests. As the party is getting underway, everyone is polite and genial—opinions, politics and edgy or controversial topics will come later as things warm up.

The first verse, the hokku, is essentially a specialized haiku with a cut and a season reference. Traditionally this verse would have been given to the most honored guest, who would use it to compliment the host. For us, it will be our “call to renku,” so please give it a feeling of coming together in time and place: India in June, and use a late summer season reference from the Subcontinent saijiki’s summer page (

Each poet can offer up to three verses, max. About 14 syllables or more, in other words, a proper full-bodied haiku with a KIRE - the cut.

Follow the instructions to post your offers. The deadline is 48 hours from now. We follow Indian Standard Time (IST) ............................................................................................................. To make it clearer - 6 am on day one to 6 am on Day 3 - 48 hours (IST) This POST went up this morning (2 June) at 6 A.M. So on JUNE 4th at 6 A.M, the window closes. (IST) 1. All offers have to be posted on this thread BEFORE 6 A.M 4th JUNE. 2. Three offers from each poet are allowed. Post them together. It will be easy to keep track! 3. Please do NOT POST anything after the window closes. It will be very difficult for the sabaki, if you don't stick to the allotted time.


At present a majority of your offers are less than 11 to 12 syllables. Make your offers longer! 14 plus! Linda prefers a full-fledged hokku with long lines for the hokku and through the first side (see the schema posted above), because slightly longer lines read more slowly. That gives us the freedom to be short and experimental in the Ha - (second side.)

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