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New Renku Session: Week 1


Hello, everyone.

I hope that some of you have been missing the renku feature. My apologies for the gap. This is chiefly due to a couple of factors. One is that I have not proven very effective in finding other qualified leaders for the sessions and, thus, have had to wait for my schedule to clear a bit. And the other is the many opportunities that have filled my schedule during the first half of this year. In addition to helping to judge or administer a series of haiku contests, each of which has drawn thousands of entries, I have been busy with theater work. This has, most notably, included my first experience as co-director of a film. “Voices for Peace,” a documentary focusing on local (to Albany, New York) and international peace activists, two of whom have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, premiered last weekend.


Here’s hoping that you are ready to get started again. So, this is a call for you to offer potential hokku (opening verses) for a twelve verse Jûnichô renku. Your verses should feature either a summer (Northern Hemisphere) or winter (Southern Hemisphere) kigo from the list of 500 Essential Season Words on the Renku Home web site. Also from this site, the following guidelines.


Practical Guidelines for the Jûnichô Renku Form

by Seijo Okamoto, Master of the Haikai Sesshin

translated by William J. Higginson and Tadashi Kondô

  1. A renku must have literary value and a sense of stylishness. This is what Bashô called “timeless and fashionable” (fueki ryûkô).
  2. A twelve-tone renku consists of twelve stanzas. There is no front or back. One blossom stanza, which may be any flower in any season–it need not be cherry blossoms. One moon stanza, which may be any sort of moon in any season. About two love stanzas, in any position. About half the verses will be seasonal (a pair each for spring and autumn, one each summer and winter), and half non-seasonal, in a flexible order. About half with human focus, the rest on places, animals, plants, and the like.
  3. Progression and diversity are the essence of renku. Accordingly, a wide variety of things in nature and the world of humans should appear.


Please present your hokku offers in the comments section, below. Offers should be made by midnight, eastern US time, on Monday, June 20. On Thursday, June 23 I will post a selection of the offers, with my comments, and select the verse that will get us started on our next renku journey.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

John Stevenson







The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy:

This Post Has 108 Comments

  1. first thunder
    above the skyline
    a fluster of crows

    office wall
    a picture of wild iris
    where sunlight falls

    after months
    without attention
    the phoenix tree blooms

  2. Congratulations on your film, John!

    blue flag irises
    wrapped in cellophane–
    the shine in her eyes

    fragrant breeze
    Van Gogh’s blue flags
    on the porch banner

  3. short night
    stars continue
    their dance

    south wind . . .
    officially approved

    cool sun rising
    over blades of grass
    wiggling worms

  4. cloud peaks…
    making up the song
    as we go along
    cloud peaks
    bracing for the heat wave
    sure to hit soon

  5. green paddy
    the coolness of soil
    under bare feet

    rice planting
    the rhythm of a chorus
    and birdsong
    rice planting
    the rhythm of a chorus
    in the dawn breeze

    power outage
    a posse of fireflies
    escorts me home

  6. I’m really thrilled the renku has begun. Thank you so much for taking it on again, John.

    red cheeks and bright eyes
    mugs of mulled wine and stories
    by the fireplace

  7. cooling on the porch
    dad doing nothing
    for a klondike bar

    06.19.2022 by wendy © bialek

    to a wonderfully peaceful, laid-back father’s day

  8. a sunflower
    greeting dawn with its
    one good eye


    by the outhouse
    have brighter blooms

  9. Thank you, John, for bringing us together for a new renku session. I was hoping one would start again soon. And congratulations on your newly completed creative venture.

    the thunder calls
    neighborhood children
    back to their homes

    like a movie
    they meet in the pool
    of a waterfall

    workers return
    from the fields
    in the evening lull

    fair and freckled
    she spends afternoons
    in the shade of a tree

  10. switching clothes
    the chameleon sips
    a cold brew coffee

    06.19.2022 by wendy © bialek

  11. waterfall…
    diving into
    the bucket list
    the now or never
    of a bucket list
    slap and whine–
    from a mosquito

  12. evening lull
    anchored boats point
    every way

    straw mats
    placed in the time capsule
    to outer space

  13. Hope you don’t mind, John, giving this one another twirl around the dance floor, from 2021 but, with a little tweek.

    ready to rock
    silkworms flex
    in their glossy cocoons

  14. It is certainly summer here in Southern California, and across the northern hemisphere, but inspired by the Kigo list.

    first snow fall
    second coffee for
    a snowball fight

  15. butterbur…
    unwrapping the first cool
    of a summer night
    cool nights…
    warming up with stories
    on the wrap-around porch
    cool evenings
    on the wrap-around porch…
    story leads to story

  16. lighting fireworks
    to spell out
    her name


    falling star
    the fireworks

  17. green leaf shade
    young cardinals flutter
    into the light

    fragrant breeze
    the undulating flight
    of a bluebird

    shady side
    of the backyard

    the cool water
    scrubbing the birdbath
    with a pine cone

    long into the day
    children’s shouts

    cloud peaks
    seeing faces
    not here

    cooling off
    beside the sprinkler
    with a spritzer

    airing out the garage
    for the cats

  18. short night
    barely time
    to count the stars

    green bamboo blind
    the biggest culm saved
    for a flute

    city river
    at the wellspring
    waters ran clear

    old bush warbler
    his song unchanged
    by rain

    casting all day
    without a bite…
    but a kingfisher!

    a congregation
    seeks the light

  19. Great to have a new renku on the go. Thank you for leading, John! Here are my winter offers for your consideration. Cheers, Marietta
    pride of place . . .
    an exuberance
    of white sasanquas

    market hijinks . . .
    one lad says it’s rude
    to point with daikon

    circling the block . . .
    a cold crow barely
    raises a croak

  20. wild rose petals
    in the moonlight . . .
    somewhere a nighthawk

    this summer
    the oriole only sings
    in the present tense

    a forest thrush is fluting
    or is it a river frog . . .
    the long road home

  21. class reunion
    nobody orders
    the fugu soup
    class reunion
    nobody orders
    the blowfish soup

    1. or just ‘reunion’:

      nobody orders
      the fugu soup


      nobody orders
      the blowfish soup

  22. Wonderful. I learned such a lot last year, and I’ve really missed the renku sessions. Thank you, John.

    Some shots:

    Friday night
    how the city sparkles
    after rain

    plum rain
    a street beggar
    wants change

    fragrant breeze
    passing by
    the classroom door

    summer rain
    taking time
    to watch a snail

    mandarin blossoms
    the nodding
    white heads

    summer solstice —
    the blackbird’s alarm
    in his garden

    the heat!
    ivy climbs the wall
    all day

    1. or #1 could read:
      summer night
      how the city sparkles
      after rain

      if it is judged that ‘rain’ alone is not sufficiently a summer kigo by default.

      1. Yes, Keith, John has stated that the kigo for this renku must come from ‘The 500 Essential Season Words ‘ and he’s given a link to access that kiyose. This keeps us all on the same page so there are no arguments about what qualifies as a season word/ kigo and what doesn’t, as far as this renku goes.
        “Your verses should feature either a summer (Northern Hemisphere) or winter (Southern Hemisphere) kigo from the list of 500 Essential Season Words on the Renku Home web site. ”
        Here is the url (same as John’s link, above)

        1. Yes, Lorin, thanks to last year’s participation I’m aware of that good principle and had studied the saijiki. Among the wetter summer options it gives rainy season, plum rain, midsummer rain, and evening downpour. My question – and the reason for the two options – is whether we have to use the exact very same words or is there some flexibility? For instance, it strikes me that “rains” or “the rains” should be a perfectly adequate kigo within the saijiki to express “rainy season”. And in version #1 of my offering, that Friday “night” and “after rain” together should be entirely compatible with “evening downpour.” But in case it wasn’t, I offered the unambiguous “summer.” What do you think?

          1. Keith,

            This is a good question and a complex one. In general practice, and especially when writing a renku framed by a local sense of the seasons (mainly live sessions), I think a degree of leeway makes good sense, so long as the variation on a kigo is readily understood by all participants. But in this world-wide setting I’m going to urge that we stick to what the specified, on-line kigo list offers.

  23. John, Thanks for sharing all the great things you have been involved in.
    It’s wonderful to see both you and this new Renku. We all know how much work is involved on your end. It’s much appreciated.
    I’m going to put all my offerings in one entry here:
    basket after basket
    of ripe peaches,
    cheeky side up
    wild fluttering
    in a dust wallow
    . . . summer afternoon
    the delicate tracing
    of lace cap hydrangea –
    evening comes
    cicada song—
    an invitation
    to the last dance
    painting the bench
    in the garden,
    but dreaming of Giverney
    cicada song—
    summer shifts
    into high gear

  24. My summer just got more complicated! Great to be back on the renku path. Thanks, John.

    over the rain
    the why

    summer frost . . .
    little is certain
    except the tide

    no runs, no hits
    no errors
    only sunlight on grass

  25. What a pleasure to have John and the renku sessions back at THF.

    heat wave
    even the octopus
    goes barefoot
    switching clothes
    the octopus
    all thumbs
    heat at zenith
    the octopus
    melts into a pot
    evening lull
    forest bathing
    in an octopus pot
    fresh ink
    the octopus
    swimming in it
    octopus, octopus
    please don’t while away
    in the sitz bath
    short night
    the price of a
    fleeting dream

    1. An excellent sequence, Princess, in my view and it has a perfect end verse. I think it should be published as a whole, somewhere suitable. (I’m not kidding.)

      1. Wow! Thanks for your kind words, Lorin, much appreciated. You’ve made my day!

        1. I agree with Lorin. That being the case, I am reluctant take anything from this group that might disqualify it from publication somewhere else.

          1. Thank you John and I truly appreciate the vote of confidence from both you and Lorin. That said, I have no intention of submitting anything for publication, I simply enjoy the creative and collaborative process of the renku. There’s a lot of great material to choose from for the hokku and I look forward to reading and enjoying everyone’s contributions.

  26. glad you’re back in business John.

    summer wind
    rolling down the patio
    bells from the foxglove

  27. cicada shells
    a place to store
    the unheard cries

    06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

  28. . . . first bonito
    leaps from the depths
    of a star studded calm
    – Betty Shropshire

  29. myriad green
    the variegated wardrobe
    of the ground

    06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

  30. other versions:

    smouldering feud
    a sonora swift swears
    he was only staring

    06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

    hot feud
    a sonora swift swears
    he was only staring

    06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

    1. kindly note:
      ‘it’ could be a replacement for ‘he’ on all versions of this offering.

  31. Hello John, so glad to hear of your activities this year, best to you always.

    shadows stretching
    along the shady side
    of an old shanty

    1. summer feud
      a sonora swift swears
      he was only staring

      06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

      1. spelling correction: it should read, sonoran swift, and if summer can;t be used by itself, as it is not on the list, then here is a revision:

        hot summer feud
        a sonoran swift swears
        he was only staring

        06.18.2022 by wendy © bialek

      1. Thanks, Keith and Princess. This happened before the fly took refuge in the medicine cabinet, of course. :-)

  32. glad the renku’s running again. Thanks, John. and all best in making movies ..☺

    1. evening lull
      a ho-hum day folds
      into a whistle
      – Lamart Cooper
      enjoyed this Lamart

      1. Thank you princess k! I appreciate the comment – I also enjoyed your octopus sequence ?

  33. Always good to be busy, John, and congratulations on your latest venture.

    afternoon rain
    guests make their way
    to the hospitality marquee

  34. # 2 hokku offering

    helping new mom
    through the drought
    hanging bottles of nectar

    06.17.3022 by wendy © bialek

    (using ‘drought’ from the summer kigo list)

    1. date correction:

      helping new mom
      through the drought
      hanging bottles of nectar

      06.17.2022 by wendy © bialek

  35. Best wishes to everyone for a great weekend

    morse code –
    the dots and dashes
    of fireflies

      1. luxuriance
        leaving no room
        for loneliness

        06.17.3022 by wendy © bialek

        1. date correction:

          leaving no room
          for loneliness

          06.17.2022 by wendy © bialek

  36. faces upturned
    to the evening downpour
    to the blue’s melody
    – Betty Shropshire

  37. john s. what a wonderful wave of creative multi-tasking….bravo!.!
    so glad we are all reunited for renku.

    just curious, john, ….will there be a limit to offerings….this time?

    here is my first offering for an arizonian summer hokku:

    “wings of a rainbow”
    beat on a bladeless fan light
    cool father’s day

    06.17.3022 by wendy © bialek

    (choosing from the summer season kigo list….’cool’) 

    1. Wendy, and everyone,

      Let’s see how it goes. I haven’t set any limit on the number of offers but I may want to later. Right now, I just want to be sure we get a good start.


    2. “wings of a rainbow”
      beat on a bladeless fan light
      cool father’s day

      06.17.2022 by wendy © bialek

  38. Great!!! I’m so glad to be participating in another renku John. It’s great to be busy with worthwhile projects. Congratulations

    pride parade
    a rainbow

  39. John, thank you for the hosting. I have been waiting for this renku session.
    “Voices of peace”, sounds strong! All the best with it.

    My offers for the hokku below:

    long wait
    in the window
    a strawberry full moon

    again and again
    in my wet courtyard
    the wandering moon

  40. What a nice surprise to see THF renku open again. Lovely to have you back, John, and congratulations on all your interesting activities.
    Ah, yes, re 500 ‘Essential Season Words’ , I too have concluded that it’s usually better to have a kiyose for all participants in a open, online renku.
    1. *cold mums (kangiku, all winter)

    cold mums
    and cold dads, too, hugging
    cold toddlers
    Greetings from cold Melbourne, where mums are mothers and chryssies are another thing altogether. :-)
    (“dawn crows the scuffle of nomenclature” – Cherie HunterDay, probably my very favourite haiku. )
    2. *short day (tanjitsu, all winter).
    short day –
    a card game with migrants
    from Minnesota
    (sketch from life, I swear.)

  41. John—thanks so much for hosting. My proposal for the hokku:

    evening coolness—
    father pops the cork
    on a bottle of red

  42. Awed by your endeavors, John!! Thank you for this . . . have missed interacting with everyone.
    translucent cocoon
    daydreaming among
    the forgotten toys
    – Betty Shropshire

  43. bamboo leaves…
    giving way to the pressure
    to tell a new story
    or do I need to have:
    fallen bamboo leaves…
    giving way to the pressure
    to tell a new story

  44. John, it’s great to learn about your film experience, I will add a link to the film on my Music and Arts for Peace blog,

    thunder, then the barn
    doors open and a call to cows
    chewing on clover

  45. Very exciting to have a new renku! Thanks for taking this on once again, John.
    Also looking forward to watching your film–sounds excellent.

    Perhaps prompted by that, this offering:
    advancing the film
    frame by frame

  46. Great to see you back John. Congratulations on your recent co-director.
    I’ve been looking forward to another THF renku. If for nothing else, the experience.

    1. summer solstice
      the postman brings
      good news of the war


      summer rain
      not that much to talk
      about these days


      clear moon
      on the glass house
      one more tale


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