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The Renku Sessions: Triparshva—Call for verse 15


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.

Selection of Verse 14:

Many thanks to everyone who submitted; I’m glad to have so many offers with plants, because it’s a topic category we really needed. We had a nice range of season references including autumn kigo from the Japanese saijiki, (kudzu flowers, tattered banana leaves, one paulownia leaf), milkweed (a widely recognized signal of waning summer here in the US), and some kigo for earlier seasons that were reseasoned to autumn (milkweed gone to seed, last fern, last water lily).

As I read things over I found myself especially drawn most to the verses with colored leaves–Marilyn’s ginkgo rain, Maureen’s paulownia leaf, Marion’s single clinging, leaf, and Agnes’ various falling or fallen red leaves. The changing and falling of deciduous leaves are such an important signifier of autumn in temperate zones across the world. As the renku has shaped up, this verse would be our best chance to include them. These verses raise some interesting issues, because he traditional saijiki divides between autumn and winter differently than we do. In Haiku World (pp. 218-19, 280-82) Bill Higginson includes the following leaf topics:

LEAVES TURNING COLOR usumomiji (mid-autumn)
COLORED LEAVES momiji (late autumn)
COLORED LEAVES FALL momiji chiru (early winter) In haikai, LEAVES START TO FALL in late autumn but the majority of leaves fall in early winter. . . RED LEAVES FALL is also an early winter topic, but note that YELLOW LEAVES DROP is in late autumn.
LEAVES lonoha (all winter) In Japaanese this literally reads leaves of trees and is always taken to mean the about-to-fall, or fallen leaves of deciduous leaves in winter. . .
FALLEN LEAVES (all winter)
DRY LEAVES (all winter) . . .still clinging to their branches, swirling in the wind, or lying on the ground.

Confusing, huh? Here’s how Gabi Greve explains in the World Kigo Database:

Most of us Europeans and the haiku friends in North America see them falling in autumn…. Even here in the rural Japan of Okayama they start falling in October, but it takes well into December until they are all gone.

In Japanese traditional poetry and in haiku, autumn is mostly associated with the beautiful colored leaves, momiji, and parties of viewing these beautiful leaves. In contrast to these autumn activities, haiku poets tend to see the “fallen leaves” in the next season, winter.

Falling leaves’ do indeed give us the feeling of late autumn, whereas “fallen leaves. . . are what is left over all winter, after they have fallen on the ground. . .

This is a difficult kigo in the worldwide context. If you can accept the conventions of traditional Japanese haiku, it will be winter. You also have to consult with the leader of your group of linked verses and how he wants to use it.

As is often said, season words aren’t a weather report or a science textbook, they’re a window into the emotion of the verse. I tend to follow what I remember from days of living in the northeastern US. It seems to me that crucial difference is whether the leaves, even those on the ground, are still supple and colorful, or withered and dried. It comes down to whether the verse conveys an aesthetic pleasure in the beauty of transience, or a lamentation of loss.

By that measure, some of our above verses have fallen on the autumn side of the season demarcation, while some, such as the clinging leaf, feel wintery. Considering that this verse is the first of three autumn verses–one of them our major moon verse–I’m reluctant to begin the run with a verse that leaps us to the end of the season, especially when these verses are so important.

Fortunately, we have a verse that fits our needs beautifully. It’s Maureen’s paulownia leaf.Here it is with its maeku and uchikoshi.

his better half chambers
another round just because
~Betty Shropshire

after a while
the life boat for refugees
floating hardly
~Vasile Moldovan

the first paulownia leaf
to touch the soil
~Maureen Virchau

Renku Home‘s 500 Essential Season Words gives us this:

one pawlonia (sicleaf (kiri hitoha, early autumn). Pawlonia, also known in English as ‘Empress Tree’. Famous for the sound of the fall of one of its large leaves, a classic symbol of autumn’s arrival.

In an essay reprinted in Haiku and Happiness, Chris Drake has traced “one paulownia leaf” to an ancient Chinese saying that means “recognizing a big change is coming before it comes by noticing a tiny change.”

In addition to its meaning, see  how beautifully Maureen’s verse links on the level of the image.  I read it and was immediately reminded of a news report I’d just seen about Syrian refugees stepping that first foot ashore on the Greek island of Lesvos.  Thus, recognizing a big change is coming before it comes by noticing a tiny change. Wow!  Lots of layering in this one.  Thank you, Maureen.

Specifications for verse 15: 

This verse will be an important one: our major moon verse. As you recall, we’ve had a Spring moon already: the moon lighting a loggerhead turtle. The actual focus of the verse was the turtle, which was the agent of reseasoning.  For the current moon verse, “moon” itself is signifies autumn so no further seasoning is necessary or desirable. Let this one be about the moon.

Specifics of what we’ll need are

  • three lines
  • moon!
  • non-person–please make this also a purely nature verse
  • link to the maeku, shift from the uchikoshi


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.

The call for verse 4 will remain open until Monday, September  28, 2015 at midnight (EDT).  At that time I’ll collect everyone’s ideas, consider each, choose the one that best serves the renku, and post a call for the next verse on Thursday.

Useful links and resources:  

  • If you’re just joining us, please take a moment to review my Introduction to Triparshva post.
  • A full copy of the schema for the renku may be found at the bottom of the introductory page. I am filling in the verses as they are placed.
  • For the archive of previous calls, submissions and comments threads, click here.

The Renku so far:

Side 1: jo

a bowl of cherries
sitting on each white plate
someone’s name
~Lynne Rees /su

under a canvas tent
the snap of a breeze
~Barbara Kaufmann /su

passersby stop
to applaud a subway
saxophone player
~Karen Cesar / ns

sweet reminiscences
of our bygone days
~Barbara A. Taylor / ns

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

with the twittering
morning mist clears away
~Maria Tomczak

Side 2: Ha

from the mountain top
Puyallup natives trace
their lands below
~Carmen Sterba / ns

who left the doors open
to Valhalla?
~Polona Oblak/ ns

rusty roofing iron
as a letterbox
~Sandra Simpson / ns

#smitten #diamond #yes
~Christopher Patchel / wi lv

at the Marquise
a clandestine romp
in neon flicker
~Judt Shrode / ns lv

his better half chambers
another round just because
~Betty Shropshire / ns lv

after a while
the life boat for refugees
floating hardly
~Vasile Moldovan / ns

the first pawlonia leaf
to touch the soil
~Maureen Virchau / au

This Post Has 49 Comments

      1. I looked up “aye-aye”–learn something everyday–and I will never look at the moon in quite the same way again!

  1. That was the perfect verse Maureen, esp referencing touching the soil.
    the moon alone
    but for its halo
    on the clouds
    the sky full
    of owl song
    and the moon
    the moon
    rises from the horizon
    like a spaceship

    1. That first one is lovely, Agnes.
      For #2, moon plus an animal may be too like that spring moon verse with moon and the turtle.
      For #3, the spaceship would have kannonbiraki with the refugees’ boat.
      Would you like to keep working on the latter two?

      1. I had a feeling about the Owls being trouble and totally spaced out on the space”ship” issue ;). Thank you! For a new 2 & 3 effort:
        the sky full
        of dark matter
        and the moon
        the moon debuts
        on the horizon
        to an insect ovation

      1. Lovely picture of bird and morning glory in that link, Linda 🙂

        I decided not to specify the scents in my verse partly so that everyone would be able to insert their own. Mine is that general autumnal smell that suddenly appears one day (usually in the middle of summer). I don’t even know what it is, but always imagine it’s the leaves turning…

  2. .
    after a while
    the life boat for refugees
    floating hardly
    ~Vasile Moldovan / ns
    the first pawlonia leaf
    to touch the soil
    ~Maureen Virchau / au
    the crows
    into other colours
    Alan Summers

    1. Ah–I just saw your ekphrastic crow haiku via your Facebook post. I’m working on an ekphrastic issue for Haigaonline right now and already had a reference to Area 17 in the resources links so was happy to add the crows to that. The Van Gogh museum is on my list of things to do if I can ever get to Amsterdam.

      1. .
        Thanks Linda 🙂
        The other one to go with that painting is:
        the crows changing
        into their colours
        Yes, the link above shows our five week ekphrastic haiku course.
        The art catalog, both print and eCatalog was:
        Through a glass darkly…
        Barrington Tobin paintings
        Slovakian Glass Masters
        haiku contributions
        And special guest Tom Lowenstein. 🙂
        The Van Gogh Museum is truly awesome, and seeing his work from a couple of millimetres away was spell-binding.
        warm regards,

          1. Yes, it’s incredible isn’t it.
            I couldn’t believe I could be so close to someone’s work, who was so passionate and a genius.
            Alan (still pinching himself) Summers 🙂


  3. quite alone:
    a stray dog on the main street
    the moon in the sky


    this story will have
    a happy ending:
    the moon is rising

    without witnesses
    the full moon take a bath
    just in the frog pond

  4. Very fine verse, Maureen. And a great way of linking. First of Autumn, indeed. Nice choice.

    Additionally Linda, another way of considering fallen leaves is late winter, the thaw — could be early spring (depending on context) when leaves not withered or crunchy, but soft and moldy, returning to the earth . . . literally. Leaves make the soil fertile, and of course also fallen are those acorns now to germinate (and many other seeds of trees and plants) to grow mighty oaks.

    I do agree with your distinction from the strict Japanese saijiki that fallen must be winter. Good and reasonable to split the usage of this kigo. Leaves are falling THIS week in the Rocky Mountains up from Denver, Colorado in the bright gold aspen groves. Some on the ground —-> early autumn not winter. My daughter there reports the elk are bugling (the rut)!

    1. Yes. The trick is to think deeper into the why there’s a split between autumn as a season of transience and winter as the season of death. I used to live in New Jersey, in an old town with lots of tall oak trees. Leaf season meant the town dump truck and shovel loader, moving piles of leaves that were often taller than a person. When the first leaves came down it was fun to run and jump in them, but by the last pickup, early December, we hated raking out those piles of late leaves, brown and dusty dry or soggy and rotting from the winter rains.
      And, yes, late winter–I also remember lifting those mats of soggy leaves to find the twisted, yellow spears of crocus underneath, vainly trying to pop through to sunlight.
      Before getting into renku I hadn’t really considered the difference between yellow and red leaves, but they do have different associations, don’t they? The largest single organism on earth is an aspen grove in the Wasatch range of Utah-one big connected root system with many trunks, genetically identical so the whole mountain slope turns instantaneously gold.
      Those of you who are going to HNA will catch leaf season there–lucky you!

      1. I’m truly looking forward to autumn of 14 Oct. in Schenectady, NY. I’m unaffiliated and not appearing this time, but since Linda brings it up … there is still plenty of time to arrange to go — 5 days with the last ½ day devoted to tanka. Do visit the nice website

        This is held in different cities in Canada and the USA every two years — and is a bonanza of haiku. At the website click on the conference, 2015, and then on schedule.

        appearing are Jim Kacian, Paul Miller and most of the other haiku editors you will be familiar with … and many of the leading poets of our small corner of ART. Many other countries will be represented – India, Australia, Japan, Britain, for ex. I’ve found over the years ever so many are friendly — attended by beginners as well as the rest of us who are students, too.

        I return you now to your regularly scheduled programs.

        1. My husband and I went to college in that area–he, in fact, to Union. Seriously, it is the right time of year to go, not to mention that HNA is a wonderful conference. Wish I could go, but adding travel time to and from the west coast, it’s too much time off from my own school.

          1. Ahhh . . .

            Great memories, to be college age in such beautiful places.

            I visited my daughter at Bowdoin College in Maine for all of her Parent’s Weekends in the full of fall. Similar in latitude and beauty.

            For those not in the North Central and North East of the US, you have not seen autumn without experiencing Sugar Maples!! – – – aptly named Acer saccharum.

    2. The only hint of Autumn here is cooler mornings but temps still climb into the mid 90’s by early afternoon. Bucks are starting to mingle with the does that come to the watering trough, too. The tall grasses are yellowed and red though that’s more from lack of rain. But, tadpoles and frogs are swarming the spring-fed pool in the desert canyon floor. Very hard to conjure those brilliant fall leaf colors at the moment even though I lived in the burbs of Chicago & Lexington, MA. for 12 years.

  5. I’m not sure if those verses are what we need but here are my ideas:
    a bat shadow
    swirls among dark spots
    on the moon
    setting moon
    fills the garden
    with fresh dew
    cold air
    suffused with moonlight
    and pine sap scent

    1. Lovely imagery, but you have double kigo in all of them: Bat, dew and cold are all season words in their own right. Just the moon should be your season reference for this verse. You don’t need or want anything else that points to season.

      1. Thanks, Linda. Renku writing is really tricky… One more try 🙂

        swirls among dark spots
        on the moon
        setting moon
        fills the garden
        with the darkenss
        air suffused
        with the moonlight
        and pine sap scent

  6. Thank you very much, Linda. I sincerely appreciate your kind and encouraging words. 🙂
    I look forward to everyone’s verses!

    1. Thank you so much, Betty. Very sweet of you. “Soulful” is a great way to describe Vasile’s verse, and I found it most inspiring. Take care. 🙂

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