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The Renku Sessions: Rasika Renku, Week 3

renkuchainWelcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Sixth Renku Session.

I (Kala Ramesh) will be your sabaki for this renku. Thanks to Jim Kacian and John Stevenson for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learned the art of renku from Norman Darlington, Moira Richards, John Carley and Eiko Yachimoto. I’ve been writing renku from 2006 and I’ve been a sabaki of many renku trips and was the guest renku editor at A Hundred Gourds 5:2.

Hi everybody, It’s Thursday and I’m back! Happy Diwali!

35 renkujin made approximately 79 offers (thank you with a huge thumbs-up!).

I like the way this renku trip is taking shape! With the hokku and wakiku forming a strong bond, a good and interesting opening is established and this poem is already looking like a winner!

The beauty of a trip (in real life, for some) can be the unplanned and exciting twists – all renku trips offer you this choice! Doesn’t that sound exciting? To me it does and that is what steers me again and again to renku. Yes, one can say, the schema is already outlined – so where is the surprise? The surprise lies in the route we take, which comes from participants entrenched in different cultures and thought processes.

There are so many beautiful offers for this slot and the task of picking just one is overwhelming!

the magician vanishes
into a handful of glitter

– Marion Clarke

I like this verse for the magical power it portrays, but do feel *shine and glitter* are a wee bit too close. I love this verse, although I can’t use it here. Keep it as a pocket verse – I wonder if many of you here know about ‘pocket verses’ – a term widely used in renku. You keep the verses that you’ve written for one renku for use in your future trips! Haha! I loved it when I first heard about it … sounds maha cool, doesn’t it?

a mop of black curls
on the newly born

– Barbara A Taylor

I’m always partial to curly hair on a newborn … but in this rasika, the love verses are just two verses away, and I think that would cause a backlash.

clink of bangles breaks
the dinner time story

– Srinivasa Rao Shambangi

There’s an air of mystery here, if you want to see it that way.

shouts of joy from the peak
of a carnival’s big wheel

– Marietta McGregor

I like this verse a lot but it’s surely not buttressing the hokku – if you know what I mean? Do keep it as *pocket verse* for another renku trip.

the chatter of stars
in campfire smoke

– Brendon Kent

Lovely. I like this synesthesia of sound and sight. Well done, Brendon.

folded chairs lean
into the morning sun

– Jayashree Maniyil

Love the atmospheric ambiance this verse creates. Very nice, Jayashree.

black lipstick smears
the face of a jewel thief

– Simon

Ha! Mystery again … nice!


In many ways, all the above-mentioned offers pull my imagination in mysterious ways, but (after much internal debate) the one I ultimately fell for is Sanjuktaa’s waki:

a white silk hat left
on the hat stand

– Sanjuktaa Asopa

Simple and direct and terribly mysterious (to me, at least!)

All this while, I thought the hokku was a scene outside the house – but with Sanjukta’s waki I see a change, a shift of focus in my mind – I see the interior of the house with a huge glass window where 8 poets/authors have gathered. Most intriguing – a white silk hat seen still hanging on the hat stand … a mystery unsolved that may remain unsolved till the end – that’s up to you how you want to take it forward.

Does a cut happen in renku (as it does in haiku) and, if yes, how? We all know in haiku the *cut* (known as the *kire*) happens between two images. Hold your breath … the cut happens in renku also, but it happens in the white space between two verses! Sheer magic, isn’t it? You will notice how with each additional verse our understanding keeps changing as we proceed on our trip.

What is the role & function of the daisan (verse #3): If the purpose of the wakiku was to closely support and buttress the hokku, it is now the daisan’s job to break away from what has come before. The core process in renku is link-and-shift: link to the preceding verse (we know this already), but equally important is to shift away from the verse before that.

So, in any three consecutive verses A-B-C, A links with B, B links with C, but we must absolutely ensure that A does not link at all with C. And this verse, the daisan, is the first time such an opportunity arises to test if we understand this *rule* as I stated in my introduction on 5th Oct. The link:

Important to note: The link and shift is strong in rasika, and the shifts can be wide, since it is not a 36-verse structure of Kasen, which can afford to have small shifts. So, shall we say we’ll be following (to coin a new phrase) – link and leap!

To make it clear, you link to the 2nd verse (waki) but clearly shift away from the 1st verse (hokku).

The daisan is also called the breakaway verse!
Use your imagination – Basho spoke about using imagination, and renku gives you the scope and breadth to do just that!

The verses we have:

Rasika renku:

tonight’s moon –
eight champagne glasses
catch the shine / lorin

a white silk hat left
on the hat stand /sanjuktaa


For the daisan I request:
Shall we step into the world of nature? No human presence, please, more so because the hokku and wakiku are pregnant with human presence!
A 3-line verse. Winter. Absolutely no human presence.
No backlash to the hokku. Move away from all those images and words in the previous 2 verses.

Link to Sanjukta’s verse but take a leap from the hokku… into your own spaces.
A challenge, yes, but one which can be rewarding too!
Come plunge in for some adventure.

Rasika Schema:
1. long – hokku | autumn moon*
2. short – wakiku | non-seasonal*
3. long – daisan | winter*
4. short – non-seasonal
5. long – end of summer/love (rainy season)
6. short – non-seasonal/love
7. long | spring blossom *
8. ageku | non-seasonal or spring *

The asterisks show the important verses in this renku.

I would like no more than 3 candidates per poet, and please post them by Monday, 23rd October.
My flight from London (yeah, I’m still in London) to India is on the evening of October 24th, and I reach Mumbai on the morning of the 25th, which will surely be followed by jetlag. 🙁

So possibly the selected verse and the corresponding notes may be delayed by a day. I’ll try my level best to keep to the schedule of sending the selected daisan to John Stevenson a day before the next Thursday morning (Eastern US time) along with the instructions for submitting the 4th verse. Keep a close watch on this space!

Thanks once again for all your lovely offers.
Keenly waiting to read your daisan!!

Kala Ramesh



This Post Has 86 Comments

  1. a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand
    a wolf sniffs out
    antlers just beneath
    the snowdrift

  2. Lovely verse, Sanjuktaa, and a fine wakiku.

    an owl zooms in
    on faint rustle
    under the snow

  3. a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand
    – Sanjuktaa Asopa
    cries of gulls
    riding snow flurries
    across the lough
    Or (if it is too strange) ‘lough’ can be replaced with ‘lake’

  4. I love the mystery of that white hat on the stand – well done, Sanjuktaa. And thanks, Kala. I will keep that magician in my pocket (or up my sleeve! 🙂

  5. Congratulations Sanjuktaa !! I won’t forget this one for long. Haunting !! Loved it !!

    navigation light disappears
    in the fog

    1. Aparna,

      This verse is reading like a hokku:

      navigation light disappears
      in the fog

      A visible *cut* at the end of L 1??

      1. Thank you Kala for your feedback! I am still learning this form. Trying to pick up 🙂

        sea facing
        navigation light disappears
        in the fog

        Is it better version Kala ?

        1. Hi Aparna,
          Kala has most likely been en route to India recently. So, since it may help for your future verse offers: as I read them, these verses still have a cut or break, the first after ‘sea facing’ & the second after ‘sea facing window’.
          ie. The only way I could read the 2nd as not having a cut or break as in a haiku would be if the first 4 words are meant to be taken as describing the light: the ‘sea-facing-window-navigation light’, and that seems unlikely. (If that was intended, it’d be adjectival overload, anyway)

          Just to demonstrate: something along these lines would be ‘uncut’ (without a cut, break) and so could’ve been considered as a potential verse for the spot:

          my view
          of the navigation light
          obscured by fog

          – Lorin

          1. Thank you so much Lorin !! Got your point . These discussions and feedback are truly enlightening. I am trying to catch up the form.
            Kala too would have reached home by now. Thanks to you both for being huge support !

  6. Nice one Sanjuktaa, congrats!

    icy winds
    blow across the moor-
    the naked trees quiver

    icy winds –
    our cat leaps high to catch
    a frozen bird

    1. Thanks Sandra,

      What you have given me are two hokku (the haiku with a cut)

      icy winds
      blow across the moor-
      the naked trees quiver
      icy winds –
      our cat leaps high to catch
      a frozen bird

      Please do read this link where I’ve explained the difference between the first verse (hokku) and the rest of the verses in a renku (which are just sentence ku without a *cut* and without a *punctuation* (kireji)).

      12 Oct – link:
      For those who are new to renku: the hokku is the ONLY verse in a renku that requires a cut – something we do when writing a haiku, which juxtaposes two images to create a whole. With rare exceptions, all of the subsequent verses should read straight through, sentence-like (If in doubt, please do read the finished renku in THF’s archives – it might help you to understand a sentence-like verse.)

      As already mentioned, the first verse, known as a hokku is the only stand-alone verse in the entire renku – all other verses depend and lean on the previous one like a pack of standing cards, for their support.


  7. Congratulations Sanjuktaa!
    Great choice Kala!

    tonight’s moon –
    eight champagne glasses
    catch the shine / lorin

    a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand /sanjuktaa

    the old swan
    on a frozen lake

    1. Mary,
      We’ve already had the # 8 in the hokku and in such a short trip we can’r repeat numbers again.

      1. Thank you, Kala. Let me amend it then:
        the stark silhouettes
        of a band of black crows
        soon erased by snow
        Please let me know if this isn’t acceptable. I’ll change the other one I wrote as well.

    1. Kala, I’m also amending this one to eliminate the number ‘five.’ Thank you for letting me know before we ran out of time.
      in a snow squall
      blackbirds huddle together
      and fade to nothing

  8. Congratulations, Sanjuktaa…a very lovely verse.
    a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand
    – Sanjuktaa Asopa

    a strange silence grows
    as trees are covered in ice
    and wind-blown snow

    1. winter morning
      my pup and I wear
      white coat

      This is a hokku (a haiku) Srinivasa.
      Only hokku is a stand alone verse all others lean on the verse above.

  9. in the bird bath
    an upward-pointing
    the pink hearts
    of decorative
    walking with intent
    the badger
    has holes to make

  10. in between
    empty boughs
    the hush of a nest

    a pied currawong
    dips its beak in a birdbath
    afloat with leaves

  11. Congratulations Lorin and Sanjuktaa! What wonderful verses you have provided! And thank you, Kala, for such great teaching and guidance for us.


    tiny prints
    from sparrow feet
    touching snowy down

    1. Hello, Carol Ann! How nice to see your verse in this renku. All the best from me in faraway Australia!

  12. Many thanks for the mention, Kala!

    Here are two of my offers for the daisan:

    tonight’s moon –
    eight champagne glasses
    catch the shine / lorin

    a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand /sanjuktaa

    over the trampled
    winter rose
    under blue skies
    the garden lawn glistens
    with frost

    1. Thanks Jaya for your offers …
      Your first one is about *winter rose* – nice one, but if you scroll down my notes and check the schema, you would notice that verse # 7 is a blossom verse.


      So I won’t be considering this candidate for the daisan:
      over the trampled
      winter rose


      1. Oh! I wasn’t careful enough. No worries. I will try two more if i can. Many thanks for letting me know.

    1. Oh, Betty, just read your ‘wild ducks’ verse. Didn’t mean to copy! I was just consulting the 500 season words! Marietta

  13. Congrats Sanjuktaa! Nice verse!!

    winter quilt
    on quilt on Himalayas
    sky high

  14. Happy Diwali, a little late, to you too, Kala! I do like the idea of a ‘pocket verse’!

    Lovely verse, Sanjuktaa, and happy Diwali to you too!


    the elderly piebald
    swings tail on
    to a hard sleet rain

  15. Nice verses Lorin and Sanjuktaa.

    tonight’s moon –
    eight champagne glasses
    catch the shine / lorin

    a white silk hat left
    on the hat stand / sanjuktaa
    Look! an ermine
    bolting out from under
    that boulder / karen

  16. plunge diving
    gannets search
    for prey
    sinister spiral snail
    still single as its
    suitors mate
    hibernating bear
    what does it
    dream of

  17. tracks on snow-
    Phoenix had stepped
    just about here


    From the eyes
    of a snowman
    dropping tears

  18. Thanks a million, Kala! What a lovely surprise this is to have my verse selected … that too on a diwali day! Cannot stop smiling .

  19. Congratulations to Lorin and Sanjuktaa!

    frost gathers
    in delicate patterns
    on the porthole

    they gather
    by a crackling fireplace
    while the blizzard howls

    rakishly posed
    in his winter finery
    he taps his cane twice

        1. Michael,
          I wanted a non-human verse for this slot because love verses come immediately below. In a longer renku we can have 3 human verses coming together but *rasika* gets over in just 8 verses and we can’t have all the verses centering around *us*.

          Renku thrives on variety.

  20. Congratulations, Sanjuktaa. Great verse. It certainly links to shining champagne glasses. I can’t help thinking of Fred Astaire’s hats in his dance movies. 🙂

    – Lorin

  21. Congratulations Sanjuktaa nice verse
    ice fishing for
    the compliment
    of silence
    a murder of crows
    the bare trees
    a correction of first effort sorry about that
    in a stand
    of bare trees the hawk
    blended in

    1. Michael, you might want to get rid of ‘stand’ in your 3rd verse…after ‘hat stand’ in Sanjuktaa’s verse. 🙂

      – Lorin

  22. Thanks Kala. Nice verses Lorin and Sanjuktaa.

    the twitch
    of a rabbit’s nose
    in the first snow

    Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

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