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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 10


Welcome to another Renku session. I am Linda Papanicolaou. The renku I am leading this time is an Imachi, an 18-verse form from Renku Masters Shunjin and Seijo Okamoto (“Waiting for the Moon,” 1984). Like Junicho, the other form they gave us, Imachi is a single-sheet renku though it develops in a more traditional jo-ha-kyu structure and depends more on the flow of passages of verse in its linking.

A thorough discussion may be found in John E. Carley’s Renku Reckoner, pp. 51-56, online at Google Books. The section includes a discussion, a selection of seasonal schemata, and a lovely example, “Between the Jagged Rocks”, by JEC and Norman Darlington.


Choice of verse 9:

With this stanza, we are at the half way point in our imachi! For much of the renku the requirements given in the calls for verses have been kept fairly open to whatever ideas inspire you. Verse 9 is a bit different because we’ve just come through a short series dealing with with gun violence, winter weather and climate change, and are preparing to take up the love verses. Add to that, verse 9 needs to be a non-person verse and indoors. XXX writers responded with a nice variety of ideas, among them several that would have served very nicely, including this one by Marion Clarke that really lights up the slot:

chalked on the board
as plat du jour

For me, Marion’s verse is a multi-sensory evocation of the small California French restaurant where we had dinner last night: glassed in facade that opens onto sidewalk tables, a tall-ceiling interior with kitchen visible over a tall serving bar in the rear, and a chalk board with the specials listed—yes, sometimes bouillabaisse. In terms of craft, it adroitly satisfies the non-person, indoor requirements, gains us two topics not heretofore included: food and foreign language. It links to the maeku through recasting the sea imagery with humor and a touch of rhyme (.. . . after lashing waves / bouillabaisse. . . “ ). In doing so, it also lightens the mood, which is just we need to pivot from a series of adverse topics into love. Nicely done, and so glad to have it in the renku, Marion. Here it is with the entire poem so far:


a row of icicles
blue sky and sunshine
dripping from the eaves
~Simon Hanson

on Earth Day, deep breaths
for the scent of it
~Lorin Ford

see how overnight
the apple orchard’s turned
all blossom
~Polona Oblak

opening my journal
to a blank page
~Maureen Virchau

the boy carrying
the sousaphone
almost disappears
~Paul MacNeil

Friday school shooter
with his father’s gun
~Pauline O’Carolan

red tailed hawks
ride out the winter
in a big oak
~Michael Henry Lee

again, steep beach erosion
after lashing waves
~Barbara A. Taylor

chalked on the board
as plat du jour
~ Marion Clarke


Call for verse 10:

This will be the first of three projected love verses. In renku, love refers strictly to human love. As a topic it reaches back to renku’s origins as a literary past time in the courts of medieval Japan, which also means that we’re talking about liaison rather than happily-ever-after marital familiarity. Subtlety is particularly effective in this series, as a verse by itself may look as if it has nothing to do with love yet may become highly charged erotically in the context of what precedes or succeeds it.

Within the series, forward momentum is maintained by keeping an eye on the stages through which an affair may pass, beginning to end. Bill Higginson has listed the following categories. In a three-verse series we won’t use all so you have freedom of selection.  Do however leave room for the writers who will be coming after you; IOW. don’t write love’s passing until the end of the run.

  • seeing a potential lover
  • flirting
  • falling in love
  • waiting for lover
  • tryst or assignation
  • seduction
  • absent lover
  • love’s passing

Requirements for the verse will be as follows:

  • Two lines
  • No season
  • Include person/persons.
  • Setting should be indoors or at least indeterminate.
  • Choose a category from early in sequence (seeing a potential lover, flirting, falling in love, waiting for lover).
  • Link to the maeku.
  • No beach or sea scenes that regress to the uchikoshi.
  • No birds, even indoors in a cage: we’re still in avoidance range of the hawks.
  • Anything in the hokku is off limits for the duration of the renku.
  • Please also check your offers for repetition of significant words from earlier in the renku—this is not necessarily a blanket proscription, but if you can find a different way to get your meaning across, so much the better.


Registering your verse offers:

  • Use the ‘‘Leave a reply’ box down at the bottom of this thread to submit your offers.
  • Please hold revisions or corrections to a minimum, but if you must do so, use the “Reply” link on your own post rather than initiate a new submission.
  • Post your submissions before midnight Monday, 18 June, Eastern USA time.
  • The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 21 June, Eastern US time.


Happy writing!


This Post Has 75 Comments

  1. Lots of ingenuity in the offers this time–well done, everyone. Submissions are now closed. See you Thursday!

  2. *
    a ring in the nose
    of a full bodied white burgundy
    the port wine stain
    ear to ear
    the celibate poet
    hangs venus in pisces

  3. Just for fun…
    Gran whispers loudly
    if he speaks any English
    After introducing my French boyfriend to my grandmother!

      1. I love the way you are willing to try anything. Rather than just “scratch this one,” though, I’d like to read what was the idea that sparked your connection to the song? On the scale of Bill Higginson’s list of love topics, where would you place it? Since it’s a duet I’d probably categorize it as “falling in love”. Interesting as it starts us deeper into the development of an affair. Many (not all) of the submissions that are coming in seem to be “seeing a potential lover” or “flirting”.

        1. Thanks! Sorry to be so late responding…
          Anyway, yes, falling in love. For me, “dish of the day” conjured up several things. Gossip and well, then it becomes personal. So imagine two people later in life who’ve been through upheavals that leave lots of baggage…yet, inspite of everything or because of it, something transpires upon meeting that leads to more. Frankly, I was introduced to my future husband a year after a messy 2nd divorce and he, too, had just gone through one ( of many). And turns out, our mutual friend had said to each of us in private to be wary in essence because we’re both, well, different or whatever…our business. Upon meeting family and friends of his, eyes were raised, and comments made to me that implied I was wasting my time because he’s basically a vagabond, yada yada. Like me. We’re apart more than we’re together to this day due to so much baggage. Because of that, one of our rituals is to say, “you wanna be married today?” before putting on our rings when we do go out together.☺ Joni channels so. much. When I don’t have the words, she does…there you have it.

  4. bouillabaisse
    chalked on the board
    as plat du jour
    ~ Marion Clarke
    his smile straight out of
    American Gigolo

    1. “Catch-angels” sound fascinating, Margherita. I’ve googled but all I get are references to the Angels baseball team. Could you explain?

  5. bouillabaisse
    chalked on the board
    as plat du jour
    they touch hands
    for the first time

        1. Yes, unfortunately–no more ice because of the hokku. Otherwise it’s a lovely verse that links very well.

  6. Very clever and good fun to link to, Marion. I love everything French!

    Verse 1:

    she eyes the waiter’s
    bulging muscles

    Verse 2:

    “perhaps another notch
    on the bedpost”

    Verse 3:

    there was a man in a bar
    in Marseilles

    1. Thank you, Pauline.

      I too am a Francophile. I spent a wonderful year in Lille working as an English assistant during my student placement.

    1. I forgot about ‘disappears’ earlier.
      a partial glimpse
      her secret tattoo

  7. Such a lovely verse by Marion, perfectly suited to this renku!
    chalked on the board
    as plat du jour
    taking a seat at the bar
    one away from him

      1. This verse and the gold chain take on such a difference in meaning, depending on whether the drink is a martini or a Bloody Mary!

  8. “I will not be sworn but love
    may transform me to an oyster”
    from Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing

  9. Great verse Marion so suave

    his wanderlust returns
    for the open road

  10. I love Marion’s no verse!
    chalked on the board
    as plat du jour
    ~ Marion Clarke
    whispering his number
    to Siri
    first date dinner
    recommended by Trip Advisor
    checking her profile
    on Facebook

  11. Having been swept along in life’s currents of late it’s been a while since my last visit but i have so enjoyed the recent additions by Michael, Barbara and Marion in our unfolding renku, each adding so much in different ways.

    whispering to her roommate
    honey and cream

  12. Adding to the well deserved kudos, Marion. A delicious verse.

    the timbre of his voice
    somehow different this time
    something in her glance
    stirs a hunger
    a waft of perfume
    turns his head

  13. Congratulations, Marion ! I loved it !!!!

    My offers-


    he tucks the tress
    softly behind her ear


    she blushes crimson
    in his goggles

  14. a heart and a name
    carved on the school desk
    for their first date
    she settles on Rive Gauche

  15. Marion, an excellent verse that re-contextualizes the ‘lashing waves’ marvelously! I’m full of admiration. As well as fitting perfectly in the renku at this point, the two verses, taken together, can even have a subtext that alludes to recent ‘current affairs’ in relation to the leaders of two neighbouring nations. (I’ll have the plat du jour, thank you. :-) ) But that’s by the by.
    Linda: great choice.
    – Lorin

    1. Thanks so much, Lorin.
      (Yes, I guess the white cliffs of Dover have experienced quite a bit of erosion!)

  16. I’ve just spotted on a Facebok forum that you have selected my verse, Linda – thank you!


  17. her lipstick as red
    as the wine in their glasses


    one chocolate pudding
    and two spoons


    the bartender’s cheeky smile
    as he write down his phone number

    1. Lovers sharing a chocolate pudding is such a sweet, old fashioned image, Marina!

  18. Fine choice, Linda. Good stuff Marion, wonderful turn of the renku-as-poem’s direction. It fulfills a foreign word/phrase. And I like the use of a long word in our poem… NOT a requirement, y’all, but diversity I happen to like. Poetry is what we do, and renku are often read aloud. Variety is King.

    WE can almost imagine it a a “bringer of love” … depending on how writers now proceed. Dinner date would be too close, not subtle, but the thought of one does occur. Initial meeting in a love sequence.

    Somehow Linda, so far you have not chosen “body parts” … this is great freedom of space for a human love sequence. Physicality. Love stanzas can be the most fun of a renku. And …….. away we go!

    1. Thank you, Paul, I’m pleased this works for you. Yes, body parts…now there’s a thing! :)

    2. We made a close pass by “body parts” in the waki, Paul–“deep breaths” imply lungs. Meanwhile, we are now at a far enough remove that we can overtly do that topic category. Thanks for airing the suggestion.
      Thank you also for calling attention to that wonderful “bringer of love” quality about Marion’s verse. I am sitting here on the edge of my chair waiting to see how everyone will respond to it.

        1. @Marion: :-) :-) :-) . . . yes, ‘body parts’ never fails to bring to mind certain nefarious practices, usually set in C18 – C19 England.

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