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The Renku Sessions: Triparshva — call for hokku

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.

Triparshva is a three-sided renku form. “Side” refers to recto or verso of the paper on which the verses were written. Within the jo-ha-kyu structure, each side has its own character. A common analogy is that the poem is like the gathering or party at which renku were traditionally written. In the first side,  jo, guests are arriving, greeting the host and each other, and the conversation is still politely cordial and somewhat formal. As you’ll see, that will affect the subject matter and diction of the verses I’ll be selecting for this first side. No unpleasant, controversial or edgy topics, experimental or minimalist language just yet, please — the time for those will come when we get to side 2, ha, when the party warms up.

The jo leads off with a trio of important verses, hokkuwakiku and daisan. The first of these verses, the hokku, has a privileged function for the entire renku. It’s a three-line verse with a cut that gives it the fragment/phrase structure we know from haiku.  For renku parties of the Edo period it would be composed by an honored guest. In elegant, implied metaphor it complimented the host, set the occasion in time and place, and provided an auspicious beginning for the evening’s endeavors. We won’t replicate the guest-host exchange but we do want an auspicious beginning. In other words, the hokku will be our “call to renku.”

How shall we set a starting season for a renku composed in cyberspace? As the previous two Renku Sessions have shown, there’s no one right way to handle this. In any case, once past the opening verses, the problem resolves itself as we’re all writing out of season. Given the importance of the hokku in giving direction to the entire renku, I’ve considered carefully and opted for a Summer Triparshva because that’s the current season in the temperate zones of North America where I live.

Accordingly, submissions for the hokku should evidence the following bulleted characteristics. Let’s see what you all can come up with to get us started!

  • Three lines in short/long/short form, and an internal cut (the only verse in renku that does have a cut)
  • Upbeat imagery that conveys a sense of gathering, of calling us to renku
  • A clear and unambiguous season reference to Summer (though preferably one that does not actually use the name of the season)

How to submit:

All verse positions in this renku will be degachi (competitive). Please post your offers in the Comments section below. 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, June 29, 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.

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. I am not sure if you are still open to hokku offerings. It is not yet a week from the 25th, but it is after 29th midnight 🙂 For what it is worth, here is my offer

    sand castles—
    we make another
    fresh start

  2. Hi, Linda.

    Thanks for doing this!

    The Yuki Teikei link above generated a “site not available message” for me.


  3. My offers:
    giggles and knees …
    one more squeezes under
    the beach umbrella
    distant voices –
    swimmers start a game
    of Marco Polo
    floating the river …
    beer in the ice chest
    in an inner tube

  4. for Triparshva renku — hokku?

    backlit clouds
    hot pink crepe myrtle
    bending low


    bright-sky lake
    the two young loons
    learning to fish


    puffy clouds
    each bee heavy laden
    with pollen

  5. g’day Linda,

    Thanks for leading us on this trip. Looking forward to the journey.

    Hokku offers:

    glassy lake of peace
    an elegant swan swims
    through cloud peaks


    fragrant breezes–
    exchanging stories
    on our lush lawn


    billowing waves
    the changing horizon
    as we sail forth


  6. our gathering
    interrupting theirs
    squirrels scold


    one chair short
    sits on the grass

  7. WHAT?
    My two Emails this morning, One to Linda and the other with three candidate hock, were posted, and now went poof!

    Hey Dave?!?

    — {Paul MacNeil)

    1. Hi Paul:

      It seems you posted your candidate hokku to the other blog post about the new renku session—please repost them here so Linda will have them all in one place for her consideration. Thanks!


  8. open window-
    rose fragrance coming in
    before the guests
    the camp fire light-
    juveniles listening to
    old love stories
    the first picnic-
    all the guets feel just like
    at their own home
    and the last
    the best gift
    for a new building-
    Japanese roses

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