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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 3

renkuchainWelcome 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 for wakiku:

Nineteen participants submitted for our wakiku, and again it was a lovely collection of ideas: spring streams, waterfalls, various animals—birds, frogs, baby animals—and human occupations such as housekeeping and gardening. I’m interested in the reference that people used because it tells me a lot about where everyone sees the renku as going. Thanks to Pauline, I now know about “bear bells.”

From the instant Lorin Ford posted her Earth Day it was clear to me that it brought a special energy to the poem and that it should be our next verse:

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

on Earth Day, deep breaths
for the scent of it

Since Earth Day fell within this week’s submissions window this is really a season reference not to be missed. Note also that Earth Day is an autumn celebration in the Southern Hemisphere where Lorin lives. Her verse could equally be an autumn verse, yet see how deftly it adapts and takes its season from a hokku that presumes northern hemisphere spring. In season and topic, it links a mid-spring earth topic to late spring human observance, releasing a scent of sunshine and melting ice that is implicit in the hokku, while also preparing us for the blossom verse to come. It also has a nice continuity of language, “. . . dripping from the eaves / on Earth Day . . .”, that recasts line 3 of the hokku. Finally, it even reads like drawing and exhaling a breath, which creates a momentary pause for us to savor the season before plunging deeper into the renku. Nicely done, Lorin. And onward now to the daisan!


Call for Verse 3, Daisan: 

The third verse is our break- away, called so because it’s the first verse in the renku that must link to the previous verse, the maeku, while shifting away from the verse prior to that, the uchikoshi. We will need the following:

・ Three lines, continuous language without a haiku-like cut.

・ Blossom verse, late spring:  In traditional renku forms this would mean plum or cherry blossoms, though in modern forms one may also find other blossoming and fruiting deciduous trees such as apple, or peach as well as cherry, provided their blooming season is late spring. As imachi is not an historical form, we’ll be flexible and allow for a variety of blossom species. No plum, though—plum blossoms are a late winter / early spring season reference and we’re already in late spring with our wakiku.

・ A person verse: The hokku was a non-person verse but the “deep breaths” of the wakiku imply a human presence, so this verse will have to include a person or people in the context of blossoms.


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, 30 April, Eastern USA time.

• The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 3 May, Eastern US time.

Happy writing! I look forward to what you all come up with!



This Post Has 74 Comments

  1. Ah! I went to bed early and did not post the chime of midnight to close the submissions window. Those last few offers that slid under the wire are charming. All the submissions are lovely, in fact. Tough choice this time. I’ll be back on Thursday with a daisan and directions for the next verse.

  2. I forgot people in my last offering.

    sharing a picture
    of two thousand year old
    cherry blossom tree

  3. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves

    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it

    this late Spring
    cherry blossom blooming
    for one day

  4. a baby naps
    in a hammock with mama
    under cherry blossoms
    in the stroller
    cherry blossoms adorn
    the toddler’s curls
    blossoms taped
    where they landed by poems
    in the notebook

  5. on the lake promenade
    the elderly ride their bikes
    under the cherry blossom

    on the rusty gate
    the honeysuckle blooms
    one more time

  6. Congratulations, Lorin!


    as far as I can see
    the hillside covered with
    macadamias in bloom


    wind gusts shower
    the young cello player
    with cherry blossom


    on the park swings
    each little princess dons
    a crown of apricot petals

  7. *
    slipping in and out of
    a silk kimono
    in plucked notes
    the serenade of a thousand
    pink butterflies
    paying through the nose
    the virtues of pride and prejudice

  8. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves
    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it.
    along the grassy edges
    the impression of cherry blossoms
    in every footprint

    1. Or perhaps
      wet cherry blossoms
      pressed into footprints
      along the garden path

  9. Beautiful are the thoughts and words of others!

    drone of bees
    in cherry blossoms
    a young bear restless

  10. Congratulations, Simon and Lorin! Very beautiful and evocative verses. They work together so well.
    Thank you for your guidance and insightful commentaries, Linda.
    city tourists
    pose for photos
    by a blossoming cherry

  11. counting her steps
    under the cherry tree in bloom
    a peach of girl

    honey festival-
    in the cherry tree in bloom
    a swarm of bees

  12. What a beautiful beginning with Simon and Lorin’s verses. Excellent choices, Linda. 🙂
    a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves
    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it
    your fingers brush
    sweet apple blossoms
    from my hair

      1. Probably not shepherd’s purse, Carol, because it counts as a flower but not a blossom and Linda has asked specifically for blossom. You could edit it with a switch to a blossoming tree.
        I recall one of Basho’s on Shepherd’s Purse. . . also this one on chestnut blossoms . . . actually I imagine it was a horse chestnut, which blooms in May (in the Northern hemisphere) rather than the sweet chestnut, the one that bears edible nuts.
        The Chestnut by the eaves
        In magnificent bloom
        Passes unnoticed
        By men of this world.
        Basho – ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches’ – trans. Nobuyuki Yuasa
        That’s the tree that inspired Yeats’ “O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer. . .” (his poem, ‘Among School Children’) Plenty of those in the UK, brought originally by the Romans.
        – Lorin

        1. Thanks, Lorin. I was trying to allude to a plant and person all in one. Drat. I’ll give this some consideration.
          I haven’t read the book you mentioned above, but I certainly will, now.
          Many thanks for your guidance and help 🙂

          1. something like this, maybe-
            between the pages
            in grandma’s diary
            peach petals linger

  13. *
    noontime walk
    noticing the neighborhood’s
    magnolias in bloom
    we plant a cherry tree
    for its future blooms

  14. I missed the earlier weeks and seeing this for the first time now. Congratulations to Simon and Lorin for a lovely start to this renku; well done Linda in your selections! The icicles on a sunny day starting to melt, the spring air of Earth Day are both very much evoking memories for me.

  15. Congratulations, Lorin. A lovely verse.

    Verse 1

    cherry petals drift
    but hope blooms
    in Korea today

  16. Thank you to everyone who has jumped and started to submit verse. I do have to clarify a requirement, though. In renku there is a difference between blossoms and flowers. In traditional renku, “blossom” refers to cherry blossom–“hana”. In current practice we may be flexible enough to allow for other kinds of fruit tree blossoms, such as peach, apricot, apple, etc.
    But sometimes you’ll see more modern forms of renku–junicho is one–where the template will call for a “flower” verse (“fl”) rather than blossom. (“bl”). Flowers would be a flowering bulb or such as hyacinth, daffodil, irisor tulip; a bush such as forsythia or flowering quince; a bedding annual or perennial such as primula, pansy, iris etc:

    Imachi asks for blossom rather than flower. Since it’s not an historic renku form we’ll take the above cited other kinds of blossom, though not plum because it’s an early spring kigo.
    Apologies for any confusion–I tried to spell that out but clearly did not do so well enough. If you’ve submitted an offer that has a flower rather than some form of blossoming fruit tree, you might like to edit and resubmit.
    Thank you and write on!

  17. a breathless run
    with on the forehead
    a printed poppy star
    a fragrant wind
    touches the faded bush
    of the peony

  18. an interesting verse for the wakiku but i like it. and i think it appropriate that Lorin, the host of our previous renku, got it. 🙂

      1. your verse deserves inclusion, no question about that!
        it is fresh and carries the energy, and if the sabaki considers it a spring verse, so be it

        1. Hi Polona, I think I get your meaning now. For me, ‘Earth Day’ alone would not suggest spring, just as Christmas and Easter would not suggest winter and spring. BUT, I believe that the scent of the earth . . .soil just isn’t the right word!. . . ‘earth-scent’ in spring, as it starts warming up, is particularly noticeable and pleasant. ‘500 Essential Season Words’ lists “spring soil (haru no tsuchi, all spring)”
          I really don’t like the word ‘soil’ as it can also mean something dirty and unpleasant (as in ‘soiled linen’, ‘soiled nappies’. (Who would take a deep breath for the scent of someone’s soiled underwear? Or a soiled cat tray?) ‘Earth’ is a common synonym for ‘soil’.
          synonyms: earth, loam, sod, ground, dirt,
          ‘Soil’ is a common synonym for ‘earth’

          the substance of the land surface; soil.
          “a layer of earth”
          synonyms: soil, topsoil, loam, clay, silt, dirt, sod, clod, turf; ground, terrain
          “the blades ploughed gently into the soft earth”
          Each of these words has a different nuance: ‘earth’, ‘soil’, ‘loam’, ‘topsoil’ etc.
          So I believe the traditional kigo is there in the verse, with ‘Earth’ taking the double meaning. . . our planet as a whole and the actual earth we stand on and plant things in. I don’t read Japanese, so I don’t know whether or not they have more than one character for what’s translated into English as ‘soil’, but I imagine they would.
          – Lorin

          1. Thanks for this, Lorin. I’m looking at earth-related words to theme next fall’s issue of Haigaonline and your thoughts have opened up my thinking.

          2. yes, the earth in spring does have a peculiar scent so i can see how its mention would indicate the season 🙂

  19. versetto 2

    the tender green
    of wilted wisteria
    in May wind

    versetto 3

    gauze wings
    of the dragonfly
    on the floral quilt


  20. I miei complimenti a Lorin Ford
    on the rock bar
    scent of a fresh wine
    and brooms in bloom

    1. a small correction if it is possible

      on the rock bar
      the freshness of wine
      and brooms in bloom

  21. Well done as always Lorin
    morning glories
    climb the trellis near
    the window of the bathroom

  22. Congratulations, Lorin a beautiful verse. The earth certainly has a scent of its own and comes through quite potent when the rain falls after a dry spell.

    1. Thank you, Carol. What a lovely surprise: first time for me to have a wakiku selected. 🙂 Thanks, Linda, I’m delighted.
      I look forward to reading all of the blossom verses. There’s sure to be a great bouquet.
      – Lorin

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