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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 18




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 17:

Many thanks to the eighteen participants who posted offers for our moon verse. Not only is moon one of the focal topics of a renku: this is also our last three-line verse and the last verse befor our ageku. The splendor of the moon came through in many guises.  With two edits, the verse we’ll be using is this one submitted by Liz Ann Winkler:

the full moon
passes over a beaver’s cache
crammed with roots


Where I often go in the mountains there’s a nearby beaver pond.  Not that I have ever seen the beaversI’m told you have to be there before dawn if you want to catch them at work, but it all accords perfectly with what I learned about them in school: the stumps of tooth-whittled trees, the lodge and the network of dams.

One reservation I had about the verse in the above form was its focus on the cache, the twigs and sticks that beavers secure in the mud of the pond’s bottom for a winter food supply.  My sense was that as a link to the cornucopia it was a bit too obvious, but more importantly it seemed to tip the verse into a winter image. A quick check of the World Kigo Database revealed that the Canada regional saijiki project has dealt with beavers through the seasons noting that “In winter, they mostly hole-up in their lodges with a winter-long store of food. . .”  Autumn is the season they see the beavers preparing their lodges and dams for winter.

The solution seemed to be to shift the focus to another aspect of beaver construction. The dam seemed to work best as it lines up with autumn activity and allows the moon to be the verse’s center of attention. I’d also like to eliminate the possessive, which duplicates the maeku.  The common way of saying it seems to be simply “beaver dam”.  My thanks to Liz for agreeing to the edits.  Here is the verse with maeku and uchikoshi:

just your license
and registration, please

cornucopia celebrates
a daughter’s safe return

the full moon
passes over a beaver dam
crammed with roots


I love the result.  It’s a highly visual image of autumn moonlight reflected on the water of the beaver pond. The moon’s not just there overhead—it’s passing—which invites comparison with the slow drift of current towards the dam, the sound of water passing over and through the dam, and the passing of the season itself.

There’s subtlety in the verse.  Notice the sound echo of “moon” with roots”.  Those roots in line 3 are also important for meaning.  In the verse’s original form they referred to the cache, which struck me as my understanding was that beavers store twigs, sticks, branches and parts of the plant with bark.  As I thought more, though, I realized that the beaver pond I see is built among Sierra willow, which roots so easily that the lodge sprouts green all summer.  The dam too is full of roots both ends are anchored on the exposed roots of the trees along the stream bank.

In fact, studies have shown that beavers are a keystone species alters and creates new ecosystems where they build their ponds, converting simple pass-through streams to complex wetlands rich in habitat for diverse species. What I like so much about the verse is that it links to the maeku on home, family and the abundance of harvest, but in a way that’s not only about taking from the environment–it’s about returning abundance to the earth also.  What a lovely note on which to set up for the ageku!

And, of course, we now have our four-footed furry creature. Not that it was required to have a mammal topic, but I would have been a little disappointed if we’d ended without one.  Many thanks again, Liz.


Our renku 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

at a table the couple
whispers in French
~Carmen Sterba

the Beckhams
laugh off rumours
of impending divorce
~Andrew Shimield

to imitate the love manual
we bend in strange new ways
~Paul MacNeil

on Forbidden Peak
a summer evening’s
rosy glow
~Judt Shrode

around the birdbath
snails cooling their heels

~Carol Jones

just your license
and registration, please
~Betty Shropshire

cornucopia celebrates
a daughter’s safe return
~Jackie Maugh Robinson

the full moon
passes over a beaver dam
crammed with roots
~Liz Ann Winkler


Call for Verse 18:

Where did the time go?  We’re at the final verse of our imachi: the ageku!  This will be a two-line autumn verse.  Please make it non-person and outdoors. Other than that, the best explanation is to quote John Carley’s entry in Renku Reckoner (p. 87):

“The closing verse of a renku sequence is the ageku, a name which implies not just an ending but also the fulfillment of anticipation. The sense is not so much of final as of finality. . . Ageku often acts as a counterpart to the hokku. If the first verse is charged with providing a greeting, now it is time for leave-taking and augury. . . ageku is expected to generate. a sense of completion, not just to the closing section of the poem—but to the piece as a whole.

“In order to meet these rigorous demands, ageku is exempt from the general conventions that condition what a verse may or may not reprise. It is even possible for ageku to return to some aspect of the hokku or wakiku in order to generate a strong sense of circularity—a practice which is otherwise condemned.”


Specifications for the verse:

• Two lines
• Autumn
• Non-person verse, outdoors
• For topics, the verse is pretty open (see JEC above) though it’s worth noting that we do not yet have tea or alcoholic beverage.
• Link to the maeku, shift from the uchikoshi; otherwise, this verse is released fromother strictures of repetition and regression.


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, 13 August, Eastern USA time.
  • The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 16 August, Eastern US time.


Happy writing!


This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Many thanks to everyone who offered ideas for our ageku. Submissions are now closed. See you Thursday for our final wrap-up.

  2. An excellent verse, Liz. 🙂
    Regretfully, I haven’t been able to join in much, but here are a few offerings for this very lovely renku:
    the startling percussion
    of traveling geese
    tempting piles
    of crisp colored leaves
    bales of hay fragrant
    in afternoon’s warm light
    bright bales of hay
    dot the shorn fields
    the last of the hay
    now cut and baled
    scarlet leaves adorn
    the fast-flowing creek

  3. sorry for being away so long… life’s challenges…
    a late one for fun…
    by the 18th hole
    sprouts a fairy ring

  4. *
    they come in twos
    wild orchids
    long in the tooth
    the heart of the persimmon
    fallen ears
    the narwhal’s philosophy in the offing

  5. Kudos Liz👍

    shortening days of
    cornfield harvests

    steaming pumpkin soup
    on the first chilly day

    passing a Shinto shrine
    on All Souls Day

  6. wingbeats in the air
    as the geese return
    the swifts depart
    as the geese arrive
    going north or south
    a sky full of birds

  7. Lovely moon verse, Liz Ann. Thank you!

    Verse 1:

    and the maple leaves shiver
    but cling to their stems

  8. clear water lingers
    among gathered pebbles
    among gathered pebbles
    clear waters linger
    among gathered pebbles
    babbling brooks linger

    1. That’s lovely, Barbara. It reminds me of the story of astronaut Jim Lovell whose plane had instrument failure during a night flight and he had to use the bioluminscent trail kicked up by his aircraft carrier’s propellers to find his way back.

  9. Love Liz’s verse – I can see moonlight seeping down through the tangle of roots!

      1. A nice autumn stream kigo that I’ve always liked is “aki no mizu”, the clear waters of autumn, which refers to streams when their flow is slowed so that the sediments have settled. Better not to actually use “autumn” in it if you can, though.

  10. Congratulations, Liz Ann, a delightful visual verse, and a marvellous continuation of natures bounty.
    Well done 🙂

  11. Thank you, Linda. I am so pleased to be a part of this excellent poem and party. I love how much depth your insights added to my beaver moon image.

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