The Renku Sessions: Triparshva — call for wakiku

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: 

There were more than forty offers for the hokku. Many thanks to everyone who submitted. I thoroughly enjoyed reading, spending time with each, and picturing the direction each would take us. So interesting the many different ways to express the joys of summer and of gathering to celebrate or begin a journey!  We had summer clouds, cloudless skies, rainbows,  an open air concert,  graduation, a wedding, lawn parties, a  festival, beach chairs, umbrellas and beach balls, swimming, a Ferris wheel, boating, picnics, campfires, cuckoo, loons, a swan, gulls, fireflies, a lizard, a cicada, bees, squirrels, an elephant, roses, crepe myrtle, strawberries, cherries. . . Within the variety there were recurring images and themes that speak of commonalities in experience of the summer season. Isn’t this what makes Internet renku possible?  Who could resist billowing waves, an excursion boat with pennants flying, or an ice chest of beer floating along on an inner tube?

Finally, though, I’ve settled on

a bowl of cherries
sitting on each white plate
someone’s name

Lynne Rees

Place settings of red summer fruit on white china–It’s simply, finely observed, and layered too.  I love Lynne’s analogy of picking verses to selecting a cherry a bowl, and the white plate as the tabula rasa of our renku itself. Scanning our roster of participants, I see  friends, familiar names, renju with whom I’ve often written, and several new acquaintances.  So I also like the analogy to place cards as we take our seats.  Thank you so much, Lynne!

Before we move on, a bit of heads-up:  By my count we have ca. 25 participants, and undoubtedly there will be more as latecomers arrive, squeeze under the beach umbrella and sit on the lawn.  The catch is that triparshva as a form has only 22 verses. I’m thinking on how to mitigate this when not everyone will have a verse placed in the final poem. One way is to deemphasize “competitive” in the degachi selection of verses, in favor of collaboration and support. My own philosophy is that we will actually be composing two parallel poems 1) the triparshva, and 2) the poetry of the process itself, the outcome of which is the finished poem. For me, renku is in that sense a conceptual art form, and whenever I’m involved in one I remember what Christo has said of his installations such as Running Fence or The Gates, that the art is not the poles and the fabric.  Rather, the work of art is the “all together”.

In live renku, once the party is over what remains of this secondary, larger poem lies in memory and in the “pocket verses”–unplaced submissions that participants collect and take home.  In online renku, in each post with its comments thread we’ll be generating an archive of our proceedings and every verse offered will be there, a part of the renku. To pile on another metaphor, think of the unplaced verses as “roads not taken”, still there as possibilities to be visited another time.

Thus, whether you have or have not yet had a verse placed, I hope you will stick with us. Even the unplaced verses are part of the poem, and the more we have the richer the renku will be.

Now for the wakiku:

Second in the opening sequence, this two-line verse was traditionally written by the host as a response to the compliment offered him in the hokku.  In function it is a support verse that complements, reinforces or extends the imagery of the hokku without overshadowing it. The hokku-wakiku pair may remind you of a tanka or tan-renga, though with capping it to closure.  A good wakiku complements the hokku without overshadowing it, while bringing enough new imagery to the renku that the next verse, the daisan, may link to it in such a way that moves the poem forward.

Again, this is the hokku to which you will link:

a bowl of cherries
sitting on each white plate
someone’s name

Other things we’ll need in the verse:

  • two lines, more or less calibrated in length to line 2 of the hokku
  • a summer season reference
  • imagery that complements, reinforces or extends without repeating images or topics in the hokku

What else to you see or hear? You could zoom out to a larger view of the setting, zoom in on a detail of someone or something else present. Where does your imagination take you?


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. As Paul has reminded us, the comments feature does not recognize double spaces so do remember to separate your offers with a line of asterisks, hyphens, dots etc.  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.

This first call, for the hokku, will remain open until Monday, July 06, 2015 at midnight (EDT).

Links and resources:

  • If you’re just joining us, please take a moment to review my introductory post
  • For a discussion of the hokkuwakiku and daisan in renku, see John Carley, “Renku: Beginnings and Endings” in Simply Haiku 2.1, January-February 2004)
  • 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.
  • If you don’t already have a favorite saijiki (season word list), here are a few of my favorites that are readily available online:
    • 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.

Per Diem: Daily Haiku from Around the World—July 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.

Denmark is the featured country in July 2015. For more information about haiku in this part of the world, see A History of Danish Haiku.


Survey Says . . . THF Video Archive

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: THF Video Archive

The Video Archive has released offerings in several categories: interviews, readings, lectures, “master clips,” video haiga and reports. Offerings are added regularly. Additional footage continue to be shot as opportunity presents itself, particularly at conferences and other gatherings of poets. The THF Video Archive is available on the website.

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. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for helping us make The Haiku Foundation a better resource.

Book of the Week: a mouse pours out

gurga_amousepoursoutcoverLee Gurga was Robert Spiess’s successor as editor of Modern Haiku and president of The Haiku Society of America, among his many contributions to the genre, but he is best known as a poet. This earliest of his chapbooks (High/Coo Press, 1988), though modest, is in some ways still his most satisfying collection, the poems accompanied by charming drawings by his sons A.J. and Alex, and a moving nostalgia for a more rooted life maintained throughout. (You may wish to check out Bill Ramsey’s R’r essay, “From R. H. Blyth to Richard Gilbert:The Postmodern Turn from Essence,” which has a useful commentary (p. 44) on the title poem of this chapbook.)

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.

trying the old pump a mouse pours out
summer rain . . . her water breaks the day
as the light fails— still hammering from the treehouse
walking the corn— the thornless scent of woodroses
the smell of the iron as I come down the stairs winter evening
two boys the last pile of dirty snow