Per Diem: Daily Haiku from Around the World—August 2015








We’ve featured a new Per Diem on our home page every day since 2012. In 2015, we’re pleased to continue this popular feature in a new layout and a new context.

Each day a new Per Diem poem will appear in the header on every page. And Per Diem is now linked directly to World of Haiku, a new project featuring poems from a different country each month. We’ll start this January and continue until we’ve exhausted the haiku cultures of the world. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing the variety and breadth of haiku as it is practiced around the world, and coming to know poets who share the same love of haiku as you do.

Germany is the featured country in August 2015. For more information about haiku in this part of the world, see A History of German Haiku.


The Renku Sessions: Triparshva—call for verse 6


Welcome to the third Renku Session. I’m Linda Papanicolaou, and I’ll be leading this journey in collaborative poetry. Triparshva is a 22-verse form developed by Norman Darlington in 2005. It’s a good form for composing online because it moves more quickly than the 36-verse kasen, while also following the jo-ha-kyu (beginning-development-rapid closure) pattern of traditional renku. So whether you’re new to renku, or simply want to keep your skills honed, you’re especially encouraged to join us.

Our Renku So Far: 

Thank you, everyone, for exploring both seasons that the schema offered as options.  The ideas you submitted were enormously helpful in choosing which direction we should take.

As you’ve noticed, the seasons in renku occur two to a side, with non-season verses between them as spacers, and they don’t progress in natural order.  Think of them as the axes of a mandala that we criss-cross rather than following the circumference.  The need to come up with the right season for a particular verse slot, plus the additional requirements of three-lines or two, person or non-person, and the strictures of variety in topic can make it seem as if we’re ticking off a checklist rather than writing with authenticity.  In the years that I’ve been using the Worldkigo Database, I’ve often seen Gabi say that the saijiki isn’t used as a weather report.  Kigo are used to bring out underlying mood or emotion (WKD, “Seasons and Categories“,  “Emotions in Haiku and Kigo“).  In recognition of this, Jane Reichhold has added a “moods” category to her own online “Dictionary” of season words.

A writer who has influenced my own practice is Yuki Teikei’s Patricia Machmiller. An abstract of her talk “Kigo:  The Scent of Haiku,”  (2013 Haiku North America) is online, and Melissa Allen has a synopsis on Red Dragonfly. Her key points were that a well-chosen season reference  “brings to the haiku an intuitive quality that makes it more mysterious, more enigmatic, yet more profound,” and that “the sense and scent of each poem would change if kigo from a different season  were chosen.” Patricia was talking about season and the cut within a haiku, but it applies to renku linking too, and this was the choice I faced:  shall we go with moon in spring, or in winter? Either would work–and the renku would as a result play out in very different ways because the choice of season here determines verses on the next side too.

Given the maeku, its “reminiscences of byegone days”, winter seemed an obvious choice and indeed, some beautiful imagery was offered as seasoning: snow moon, ice moon, wolf moon, long night moon, snow/snowfall/snow crust, cold, frozen/iced river, bare-branched trees,  wild ducks. . .  The next verse would be a two-line, non-season/non-person to close out the side and lead on to the ha. 

The imagery for a spring moon was equally diverse–melting icicles, a misty or hazy moon, pink or petal-coloured moon, a tranquil pond, wisteria, carnation, new grass/fresh pasture , and among the animals rising koi, and baby animals including tadpoles and lambs (how ingenious of Joel to make his a winter verse with cubs snuggling in beside a hibernating mother bear!).  I found myself particularly drawn to a few verses that envisioned a deeper twist on this season of sexual reporduction, which is linked to the moon and expresses itself in ways that can be very disruptive of the neat social order we build for ourselves: pregnant ewes restless in the moonlight, a bellowing bull, a moonlit buck, starfish in a tidepool, and most wonderfully the Cat in the Hat who assumes the role of E.E. Cummings’ goat footed balloon man “In Just Spring”.

So I’ll spring on you the verse we’ll use from this short list:  Paul’s sea turtle.  Here it is with its maeku and uchikoshi:

passersby stop
to applaud a subway
saxophone player
~Karen Cesar

sweet reminiscences
of our bygone days
~Barbara A. Taylor

yet again
the moon lights the loggerhead
as she digs
~Paul MacNeil

See how it turns the human reminiscence in the maeku into the instinctual memory of a creature who has been hauling out to nest on the beaches of this planet for an estimated 40 millions of years. The moon and the season topic nesting come smoothly together as the females mostly come ashore at night. At the same time, it’s a verse with layers:  I can read her as the mythic “world turtle”, bearing us all on her back, while in the context of habitat destruction and global warming,  she’s coming ashore  to an uncertain future.  Well done!

Verse 6:

This will be a two line verse, spring in season, and again a purely nature topic, please. You may let the link go where it will take you, although I must impose a few topic restrictions:

  • No sun or stars in verses adjacent to a moon verse–we want to leave room for that spring moon to shine uncrowded by other heavenly phenomena.
  • Sea turtles when the spring season has already warmed up, which is fairly late in the season.  Among the US turtle populations that’s March in Florida, May in the Carolinas. In Renku Home’s 500 Season Word list and in the World Kigo Database you’ll see that the season references are sorted out as early/middle/late/all season, and in a run such as our two spring verses here, you do not want time to back up.  So no melting snow or ice, snowdrops or crocus, etc.  Choose your imagery from things that are late spring or all spring.
  • And, as you saw on some of the discussions on the Call for Verse 5 thread, we stay away from the hokku.  No more colors.

How to Submit:

All verse positions in this renku will be degachi. Please post your offers in the Comments section below. Let’s have an upper limit of 3 per participant. Calls for submissions will remain open for one week, at the end of which I’ll collect everyone’s ideas, consider each and choose the one that best serves the renku.

The call for verse 4 will remain open until Monday, August  3, 2015 at midnight (EDT).



Useful links:  

  • If you’re just joining us, please take a moment to review my introductory post.
  • This renku will follow a schema by Norman Darlington. The layout for a Summer Triparshva may be found by reading down the second column from the right.
  • NEW :  I’ve put a full copy of the schema at the bottom of the that intrductory page, and am adding verses as they are placed.
  • For the archive of previous calls and submissions, click here.


Other resources:

  • Some online saijikis (season word list):
    • Kenkichi Yamamoto, “The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words,” tr. Kris Kondo and William J. Higginson, online at Renku Home (2000, updated 2005).
    • ” The Yuki Teikei Season Word List”, online at Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, 1997.
    • World Kigo Database, ed. Gabi Greve,  also includes links to a number of regional kigo lists and saijiki.
  • Online resources on linking and shifting include
    • Tadashi Shôkan Kondô and William J. Higginson, “Link and Shift: A Practical Guide to Renku Composition” at Renku Home (2005)
    • “Introduction to Renku by John Carley,” 2009, rpt. New Zealand Poetry Society (scroll down to the section “Link, Shift & Separation”).

***New and  highly recommended***

  •  John E. Carley, Renku Reckoner, ed. Norman Darlington and Moira Richards (2013, print ed. Lulu 2015), sample pages are online through Google Books.


Bookstories 36: Jo Pacsoo on the Intimate Details of Death

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!


Three of us used to meet in Penzance and share poetry. We decided to do a joint publication but in the end we did three individual collections. This was my first publication. Luckily it is now out of print as some of the haiku were pretty bad. But I’m grateful to Martha Street and Jacky Pritchard for their support and encouragement. We have now all moved to different places.

My second collection Chiaroscuro was really a kind of therapy. My partner had died a few years before. He had left his body to a medical school so there was no funeral; his daughters cleared away his things and that was it. I had done a little, private ceremony but decided I’d like to dedicate a booklet to him. All the haibun and haiku had been previously published and I arranged them to depict something of our life together, his death, and my life afterwards. It was a healing process for me.

Death is not popular but someone I have never met wrote to say how much the book had resonated with her own experiences and also how it had changed her approach to poetry which she had always avoided; she didn’t know that it could be about everyday, small things. Later she sent me a book of her own poems, not haiku but about everyday, small things. As Kathleen Raine said, if writing touches just one person it has been worthwhile.

–Jo Pacsoo

Survey Says . . . Juxtapositions

Every September the Board of Directors and Associates of The Haiku Foundation are sent a survey. Their responses help to guide our growth and direction. We’d like to broaden our input, and so we’ll be asking you to respond to a series of questions, one per week, over the next half-year. Your replies will be weighed in our assessment of our performance.

Today’s question: Have you had a look at the Foundation’s scholarly journal, Juxtapositions?

In May 2015 The Haiku Foundation launched the first journal of haiku research and scholarship in English, . We plan to release two issues per year beginning in 2016. Please have a look at it and tell us what you think.

Please assess how well The Haiku Foundation is delivering on this topic. Indicate your assessment of our performance to date by choosing one of the options:






Please feel free to add additional comments. This is the last installment in our survey for 2015. Thank you for your thoughtful responses, which will help us make the Foundation a better resource for all of us.