Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 5


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 4:

Again, welcome to the new participants who joined us this week for our fourth verse.  Twenty-seven writers submitted verses for the slot, many offering multiple ideas. Even though ultimately we can only place one offered verse, I would like to stress that all are important because they give me a picture of all your instincts and that helps me form an image of  where the renku wants to go and how I can help shape it to get it there. This is especially so for verse 4. Although it is not formally divided into sheets like kasen or shisan, imachi does follow traditional jo-ha-kyu dynamic.   The difference for a one-sheet form like imachi is that transitions are left flexible.

Patricia Machmiller, who is one of our renku leaders at the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, likens jo-ha-kyu to the progress of a party. The jo is a prologue. The party is starting; guests are arriving, greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. Conversation is still fairly formal, light and polite. The ha is the development section.  Now the party has warmed up. Conversation is getting more intense; the humor more trenchant, discussions sometimes become political or controversial. The Love verses occur in the ha, also. Enough for now–more about the final section, the kyu, when the time comes. . .

Many of the verses submitted for the #4 slot would be good ha material, Some included proper names or long-distance travel, which are topics generally restricted to the ha. There was also humor.  If these verses have been a sample of your thinking as renju, our ha section is going to be vivid and dynamic.

However, thinking ahead to the imachi’s 18 verse layout, I don’t want to plunge into the ha immediately after the daisan, as we would in a twelve-verse shisan. Even without the formal articulation of a new sheet, I was looking for a verse 4 that signaled transition and allowed us to ease into the ha around verse 5 or so.  Among the offered verses that accomplished this, the one that really lights up the spot is Maureen Virchau’s:

opening my journal
to a blank page


How simply and nicely the opening of apple blossoms morphs into an opening of a page of still-white paper–and isn’t that progression of “O” vowels from “orchard” to “blossom” to  “opening” wonderful!  The verse brings a subtle closure to the opening triad and sets us up with a blank slate for what’s to come. Thank you so much, Maureen.

Here is 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


Call for verse 5:

Here is the maeku/uchikoshi pairing:

see how overnight
the apple orchard’s turned
all blossom

opening my journal
to a blank page


Specifications for Verse 5:

  • Three lines, uncut, and non-seasonal
  • Link to Maureen’s blank journal page; shift away from Polona’s apple orchard
  • Your choice: person or non person
  • The ha is a time to think of topics that we would not have used in the jo: person or place names, literary references, politics and human affairs, current events, religion,  illness or calamity.


What to avoid:

  • Verse 5 should NOT include trees or agriculture, flowers or blossoms, time of day or night, or other imagery that reverts to the daisan.
  • Anything in the hokku is off limits till the end of the renku. This means no icicles or cold things, no dripping or falling things, single rows of things, sky, color blue, sun, roof or other parts of a building.


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, 14 May, Eastern USA time.
  • The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 17 May, Eastern US time.

Happy writing!


This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. It’s the deadline for submitting to verse 5. Thanks, everyone. A lot of great ideas on this thread. I’ll be back on Thursday with the chosen verse and a call for verse 6.

  2. will the promises
    they make at the summit
    be kept?


    asylum seeker
    crosses the border

  3. a boy
    he is getting ready
    at the high school exam
    on my kleenex
    taste of vanilla
    of the lip gloss
    the pictures of the corridor
    they are to be moved
    on the bare wall of the living room

  4. A really excellent verse to link to, Maureen, thank you!

    Verse 1

    on June 12
    “Little Rocket Man” and the “old lunatic”
    will meet in Singapore

    Verse 2

    I walked through the bush
    and a brown snake
    reared its head at me

    Verse 3

    the street musician
    was being attacked and robbed
    by a homeless man

    1. Thank you very much, Pauline. I’m glad that this verse offers a nice springboard. Wishing you a fantastic day. Happy writing!

  5. Maureen, your verse brings out so many possibilities!

    opening my journal
    to a blank page
    Maureen Virchau
    a Japanese poetess
    waits for an answer
    to her tanka
    when did this
    cartoon end up
    on the refrigerator

    1. Thanks so much, Carmen. Yes, looking forward to all the possibilities! Wishing you a happy day. Take care.

  6. a firm signature
    offer another
    Ischia island
    appears and disappears
    among the sheets
    after the last trip
    a new stickers series
    on the hood

  7. the sculptured bull
    that was Picasso’s



    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears



    the child twists
    his kaleidoscope
    and laughs

  8. 95 theses
    nailed to the church door
    in Wittenburg
    foolish man
    to build a tower
    up to the heavens
    settlers head west
    across the Missouri
    on the Oregon trail

  9. Yes, congrats Maureen.


    on my last birthday
    an evening with J
    who ever that was!?


    his sheer arrogance
    prompts me to protest
    with other millions


    yet another scam
    my latest bank balance
    states zero

    1. Thank you very much, Barbara. Wishing you a wonderful day! Take care.

  10. Congratulations, Maureen! I love your blank page verse…it can lead us to so many places. Excellent choice, Linda. ?

    1. Thanks so much, Mary, Very sweet of you. Yes, all the possibilities that a blank page offers! Looking forward to everyone’s verses. Thank you for all the positivity and support you always bring to the renku party. Wishing you a joyful day!

  11. Perfect verse Maureen
    a proverbial
    Pandora’s box
    awaits to be opened

    1. Thank you so much, Michael Henry. Wishing you a day filled with peace. “Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.” – Lao Tzu

  12. Linda, any chance to unpin week 3 from the front page of the blog and pin the current week?

    1. Not sure what you mean because I always go in straight through the archive. I got a message from Dave Russo about a missing image so assume the two problems are linked. I will have to read all the instructions again. Sorry.

  13. excellent choice!
    the selected verse opens up the renku to so many possibilities.
    nicely done, Maureen and Linda :)

    1. Thank you so much, Polona. I sincerely appreciate your kindness and support. Your ‘apple orchard’ verse was most inspiring. Wishing you a day filled with beauty. Take care.

  14. opening my journal
    to a blank page
    -Maureen Virchau
    stand up the boy
    who’s tap tap tapping
    that pencil !
    – Lorin

    1. . . . but ah, perhaps that direct speech is repetitive in relation to our uchikoshi.
      A revision:
      opening my journal
      to a blank page -Maureen Virchau
      the ghostwriter
      tap tap tapping
      her pencil

      – Lorin

  15. Congratulations, Maureen. :-) I must say your link to the blossoming orchard is brilliant, with the blank page bringing both the possibility of new start for creative writing and the subtle irony in the contrast (to the full blossoming of the orchard) of there being nothing there on the page . . . as yet.
    – Lorin

    1. Thank you so much for your extremely kind words, Lorin. I’m deeply touched by your insightful and generous commentary. Wishing you a lovely day!

  16. Nice one Maureen
    I really love the blank page you have given us and the freedom to take it wherever it might go.
    the captain’s log
    all loops and curls
    in Waterman black

    1. Thank you, Simon. I sincerely appreciate your kindness. Yes, the freedom of a blank page. Wishing you a magical day!

  17. I loved this when I read it and am very pleased. Well done, Maureen, and well chosen, Linda. So many potential directions yet to be taken. Very exciting.

      1. Okay, so now I know that WordPress comments don’t handle keyboard emois–that was supposed to be a heart.

    1. Thank you very much, Liz Ann. Such kind and encouraging words. Wishing you a day filled with creativity!

  18. Congratulations, Maureen, I liked this when I read it.
    The session so far is clear, clean and so fresh.
    :) Lovely Linda.

    1. Thank you, Carol. Very kind of you. And thank you for all the support you give everyone here. Hope you have a wonderful day! Take care.

  19. Thank you so much, Linda. What a pleasant surprise on a dark and rainy day. So glad this verse works well for the renku. I enjoyed your commentary as always, and I sincerely appreciate your kind words. Looking forward to the renku’s progression. Yes, looks like the ha section is going to be fantastic!

Comments are closed.

Back To Top