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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 11


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 10:

Many thanks to the fifteen authors who submitted to this first of what will be a run of three love verses. Ideas ranged from serious to to steamy to funny, and I thoroughly enjoyed trying each with the maeku and uchikoshi. We’ll go with one of Carmen Sterba’s:

again, steep beach erosion
after lashing waves

chalked on the board
as plat du jour

at a table the couple
whispers in French

The way it links and shifts is subtle.  In the maeku we have foreign language—to a degree, since “bouillabaisse” and “plat du jour” are English borrowings from French and as such are left untranslated (you’ll find them in both Merriam Webster and the Oxford dictionaries, and the French Wikipedia has a page on how “plat du jour” entered Anglo-Saxon cuisine through Elizabeth David and other influential English language food authors).  Carmen’s verse takes the maeku further, from culinary Franglish to true Francophone.

“Whispering” is the key to how the verse shifts. As you recall, the uchikoshi was a seashore in the aftermath of a violent ocean storm with wind and the boom of breaking waves. From this, the maeku brings us indoors to a seafood restaurant with its soundscape of clinking tableware, waiters coming and going, and the fragmented conversations of the diners at other tables. Now, Carmen’s verse takes the decibel level down even further, to a more intimate establishment where we can eavesdrop on a whispering couple at the table near ours and detect what language they’re speaking.  The verse doesn’t tell us what they’re whispering (could they even be spies?) but French is the “language of love” so let’s accept it as an exchange of sweet nothings. Good renku verses depend just as much on what follows, so all will become clearer when the second love verse is placed.

Nicely done, Carmen, and thank you for this lovely addition to our renku!

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

at a table the couple
whispers in French
~Carmen Sterba


Call for verse 11:

This will be the second of our three love verses.  As a recap, here is Bill Higginson’s category list for the love topic:

seeing a potential lover
falling in love
waiting for lover
tryst or assignation
absent lover
love’s passing
(quoted on Darlington/Richards Renku Group, 2010)

Note that verse 10 has started us off at “tryst or assignation” or possibly “flirting”.  Time cannot flow backwards in a renku; thus, “seeing a potential lover” is off limits–so too “love’s passing” we’ll want to leave room for love in the verse 12 slot, too. The order of sequence isn’t as fixed through the middle but do consider the stages of development of a love affair and how how your verse offerings would keep up our forward momentum.

Specifications for verse 11:

  • Three lines, no cut
  • Non-seasonal
  • Person verse
  • Outdoors or indeterminate
  • Love topic–your choice of categories, other than “seeing a potential lover” or “love’s passing”
  • Anything in the hokku is off limits for the duration of the renku.
  • I’ve kept these avoidance proscriptions to a minimum, but please also check your offers for repetition of topics, aspects or 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, 25 June, Eastern USA time.
  • The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 28 June, Eastern US time.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. moonlit station
    in the night train
    a curtain is closed
    in the night train
    a curtain is closed

      1. Yes, WordPress does not acknowledge double spacing. I’ll insert a marker for you.

        1. But the problem is that this is not our moon verse. First one is lovely, though, even if we can’t use it in this slot. Second one does fit the slot, however. Nice going.

  2. Thank you, Carmen, for a great verse to link to!

    Verse 1:

    she takes his hand
    and leads him
    up the garden path

    Verse 2:

    later that night
    sweet nothings
    turn serious

    Verse 3:

    they strolled by the Seine
    kissing and touching
    in the moonlight

  3. I’m happy my verse was chosen, Linda. Judt’s the one who told me about this. I did study French, “the language of love.” Thanks for your comments, Carol and Henry.

  4. .
    pillow talk
    the curl
    of her lip
    pillow talk
    choking on
    a queer alphabet
    pillow talk
    his napoleon complex
    swimming in chanel
    pillow talk
    the staccato click
    of her leveraged weapon

    1. That third one would make a good end-of-love verse. Shotgun wedding? Intriguing, though, to think ahead of how someone would write a third love verse to follow it.

      1. Of course, though, we’ve already had a shooting so in a renku of this relatively short length we wouldn’t want to do guns again.

  5. their one night stand
    began two kids, a dog
    and a mortgage ago
    the Beckhams
    laugh off rumours
    of impending divorce
    the whole weekend
    finding freckles
    in secret places

    1. I do like the first one, too–with all its nuance it forces us to confront that love functions differently in our culture than it did in the courts of medieval Japan.
      Alas, the problem with it is a bit more mundane–does “one night stand” feel like kannonbiraki with “plat du jour”?

      1. easily edited if you like the verse
        their first date
        their blind date
        their prom date

        is there a difference between kannonbiraki and uchikoshi?

  6. Nicely done Carmen
    the secrets out
    she’s in love with
    her secretary

      1. linda, i deliberately left out a modifier (his or her) pearled ears to be gender neutral — does it not work? also, can flute be used in this verse if sousaphone was in an earlier verse? thanks, clysta

        1. Hello, Clysta–great to see you here. Wonderful verse.
          I get it about the “pearled ear”. In fact, both people in your verse could be either gender–or non-binary for that matter. It works very well. But yeah, the repeat of a musical instrument, though not against “rules”, might not be quite desirable in a renku this short.

  7. Congratulations, Carmen a suggestive and seductive verse, I look forward to reading the next verses in this session. A splendid choice Linda.

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