Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Rasika Renku, Week 9

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.

Rasika renku: 8th verse, the ageku – the last verse . . . so fast?!

27 renkujin have submitted 61 candidates.

Such good verses offered for this slot, each so inviting, that to choose just one was daunting and it seemed so unfair – but my hands were tied.

I have to choose one, but first let me give you my favourites …


where the sky meets the earth
clouds welcome in tomorrow

Marietta McGregor

Lovely Ls 1 & 2, Marietta.


where some dream
unfolds into whale song

Betty Shropshire


Sounds so beautiful …

Note to all: Please keep all your verses for use in future renku trips.


sounds as if the coyotes
have found their supper

Michael Henry Lee


I love the sudden silence here – assuming the coyotes are united as they have their meal – it could be otherwise too!


at the crossroads
an arrow points both ways

Barbara A. Taylor


What an effective take, Barbara. It has a good impact on the reader. It gripped me.


after all that’s passed
sparrows pick through the crumbs

Hansha Teki

Another strong contender for this slot!


called home for supper
by dad’s whistle

Paul Conneally


Loved the simplicity in this verse and also, I’m able to see the scamper of one single boy (a memory ku) or a group of children being called. What fun!


After a lot of internal debate … since many other verses had references to some season, or had images we have used before, such as *water*, *rhythm & music* and some had a *cut* even in their two lines, my focus centred on these two offers:


carrying her litter the possum
scampers up the oak

Madhuri Pillai


asleep in the long grass
a lioness and her cubs

Andrew Shimield

Andrew, we do have *and* in Paul’s verse above – shall we change it to *with* in your verse? Please do get back about this minor change request.

Madhuri’s *possum scampers up the oak* did backlash to Karen’s *an ermine dashes from under the boulder.*

And … we go for the *lioness*!


asleep in the long grass
a lioness with her cubs

Andrew Shimiel


Congratulations, Andrew.

A beautiful ageku, most befitting this slot. What I loved about Andrew’s and Madhuri’s candidates is the stress on motherhood and about caring – what a beautiful state that is – the focus lies on unconditional love. Beginning from the womb, the bond between the mother and her child-to-be, called ‘vaatsalya’, is the purest form of love, according to our ancient Sanskrit texts.

Congrats to Andrew for giving us this verse. What an enlightening moment this ageku is – it fits like a glove and holds the whole*rasika* in captivity. I did check *long grass* to see whether it pertains to any one season such as spring, summer, monsoon or autumn, and with the present climate change *long grass* can happen anytime, except in countries which have snow, so I assumed it was a no-season word.


It’s not necessary but this verse curls back beautifully to the hokku.

asleep in the long grass
a lioness with her cubs / ageku

tonight’s moon – /hokku


So this is what we have before us:


Rasika renku:

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

a white silk hat left
on the hat stand / sanjuktaa

an ermine
dashes out from under
a granite boulder / karen

that rhythmic swish
of water on pebbles / marion

how it all began
with a barefoot kiss
behind the bandstand / brendon

our high school reunion
leads to marriage / carmen

the orange grove
filling with twilight
and blossom scent / paul

asleep in the long grass
a lioness with her cubs / andrew



Rasika Schema: completed!

  1. long – hokku | autumn moon*
    2. short – wakiku | non-seasonal*
    3. long – daisan | winter*
    4. short – non-seasonal
    5. long – beginning of summer | love
    6. short – non-seasonal | love
    7. long – spring blossom *
    8. ageku – non-seasonal *

The asterisks show the important verses in this renku.

Now we go to choosing the title.
Generally the title comes from the hokku.

Or we can take some catchy image from the other verses, but that will give away the surprise for the readers.

Another convention is, if the title is not taken from the hokku, then it can come only from a season-based verse. I don’t know how far that is practiced now.

So, please do give your suggestions for the title and next week we finish the Rasika trip with the title and all!


My earnest request to all who participated: whether or not your candidates were chosen, please post your thoughts on *rasika* as a renku form.

  1. Was it interesting to participate?
    2. Will it make renku trips fun when a group of poets meet and the time is short – because it is just 8 verses?
    3. Was the renku spirit lost anywhere in this trip because of its brevity?
    4. Will you try out Rasika with your friends and in your haiku meets?
    5. Would you participate if *Rasika* is conducted once again on The Haiku Foundation?                                                                                                                                                                                                 Please post your comments by Monday, 5th December. The next posting will be on 7th December, next Thursday morning (Eastern US time). The RASIKA in its entirety will be posted once again with the title.

My thanks to John Stevenson for all the help, to Lorin Ford and Karen Cesar for bailing me out of a difficult situation and for all their comments! Thanks to all of you who participated and engaged in lively interaction – which is what renku trips are all about! My Himalayan-sized gratitude and thanks to Jenny Angyal for editing and proofreading my notes each week without fail.

Keenly waiting to read your *views and reviews* on this trip!
In *rasika* spirit and friendship,
Kala Ramesh




This Post Has 60 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry I missed the end of this, Kala. I’ve been involved in a lot of workshops in both writing and art recently and, like Lorin, have been overseeing building work on the ground floor of our house because of three leaks so far, so the final part of the Rasika passed me by, unfortunately.

    For what it’s worth, I will say that, as usual it was both interesting and fun to participate in this renku. I guess the lure of having more than one poem included might be missed because of the brevity if that’s important to people, but I don’t think it made any difference to the renku spirit. Unfortunately, because of my location I would have to travel quite far to find other haiku poets, so I fear all my renkuing will be carried out online and for that reason I will readily participate in future sessions on THF.

    Thanks again, Kala.

    Oh and I know it’s announced on your next post, but as I’ve already posted a comment on there and forgot to say that I loved your choice of title for our renku, I’ll say well done now to Lorin, on “Shine.” 🙂


  2. Kala, I think Raiska is to renku as rengay is to renku even if they are stylistically different.
    It would be good to do face-to-face with other poets. I have done rengay that way in Japan
    and the USA. Once Michael Dylan Welch and I did a rengay driving from a Haiku Society of America meeting in Eugene, Oregon all the way to Tacoma, Washington. Therefore, a Raiska could be done at a picnic, in a van, a small meeting or online with two to eight or more.
    for the title: 1) catch the shine
    2) filling with twilight

    1. Thanks a lot, for your comment and the suggestions for the title Carmen.

      I loved this observation of yours: Therefore, a Raiska could be done at a picnic, in a van, a small meeting or online with two to eight or more.

      That was the purpose of creating this 8-verse renku!

    1. Thanks, Carol.
      For the title, we generally take an image or a line from the renku – but why not, maybe it’s time to step out!

      1. Ah, right. I thought it was an overall sentiment of the session. I have learnt again.
        Many thanks.

  3. Dear Kala,

    My suggestion for the title:
    Sound of silence

    My offering for ageku:

    Sound of silence
    In the air

    Andrew’s ageku shows the sound of silence in the air!

    asleep in the long grass
    a lioness with her cubs

    (I hear the sound of silence in the air)
    show and not tell!

    tonight’s moon from Lorin’s hokku
    each with his/her own image of tonight’s moon.

    I imagine the lioness and the cub under tonight’s moon
    sleeping in the long grass

    shift from a party scene to the savannah or where ever
    there is tall grass


    1. Dear Giri,
      Just so to set things a bit straighter for you: re John Carley’s
      “” In order to meet these rigorous demands (leave-taking, augury, sense of completion) ageku is exempt from the general conventions that condition what a verse may or may not reprise. It is even possible for the 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.”
      – p87Renku Reckoner,- by John Carley. Darlington Richards Press, 2015
      that I quoted. This does not at all mean that an ageku has to return to some element or aspect of the hokku. But if it does, it is not a ‘link’ and/ or ‘shift’ per se or an imaginative extension of an image from the hokku.
      🙂 Beyond that, ‘sound of silence’ , for many of us, would immediately evoke the popular Simon & Garfunkle song:–DbgPXwLlM
      … and away from this Rasika.
      – Lorin

    2. Thanks, Giri.
      Generally, the convention is to take the title from the renku itself.
      And most often from the hokku itself.
      I think Lorin has given you the answer.

      1. Dear Kala and Lorin, thanks for the explanation why the title I suggester would not work!

        1. Throughout this trip, I loved your enthusiasm and your eagerness, Giri.
          Renku trips keep happening at this site – so do join in!

  4. Hi Kala,
    I didn’t participate this time as I ‘joined in’ after 1/2 way through and decided to observe and read to learn. Your commentary was incredibly enlightening and helpful in understanding the aims of renku in general, as well as how you chose related to the theme / rules of the verse. I think the length of the poem was great for something one can feel one has a handle on! You had the rules, but were open to interpretation and change.
    Please continue! I look forward to participating here next time.

    1. Thanks a ton, Naomi.
      Your comments were most encouraging.
      I think *rasika* with all your welcoming remarks has already taken wings …

  5. Congratulations, Andrew! Lovely ageku.

    Thanks Kala for leading us through. As you already know I would eagerly enjoy another rasika.

    Suggestions for title:

    Filling with twilight


    Water on Pebbles

    Peace and Love

    1. Thanks a million, Barbara.
      We’ve taken so many renku trips together!
      Happy to know you enjoyed Rasika and would eagerly join in the next *rasika trip* if we happen to get a slot here :))

  6. Dear Kala, it has been an enjoyable session, thank you for leading us as sabaki and thanks to all the poets involved for your interesting (and very diverse and beautiful) contributions, and valuable discussion. I agree with those who have observed that renku is quite hard to do over so few verses. All the best!

    1. Thanks, Marietta,

      Yes, I’ve taken all your comments and suggestions and I’ve already simplified *rasika*!
      It will be posted on Thursday.

  7. this was a fun exercise and i think the rasika gives a good taste of what a renku can be and would be great for sittings where the time is limited. i would gladly participate in another composition.
    it does feel very intense, and i can’t shed the feeling that perhaps it is trying to achieve too much with the moon, blossom (flower), love, all the seasons, yo-ha-kyu structure, all contained within mere eight verses (two thirds of a junicho).
    i may be all wrong but my impression is it might be possible to make the structure more flexible by limiting the seasons to two or max three and rather give a major season ( spring and/or autumn) two verses, and using no more than two of the three major components (moon, flower, love) in one schema, depending on the season of the composition. just my two cents…

    1. Yes, Polona.
      Even though in my initial notes on Rasika I had said you don’t need to have 4 seasons etc etc – I did get ambitious and added a lot in this schema here, at THF.
      For beginners and if short of time – we can have just two seasons and have either the moon or the blossom verse. Love verses, (though tough) are fun!


      The most important thing:
      1. is the ability to differentiate between the hokku (with a cut) and the other verses without a cut – being just a sentence ku.
      2. and the link and shift/leap.

      Thanks again.

      1. yes. my impression is that the form can be flexible enough to allow variety and it is a good introduction to the principles of renku composition. the end result of our effort here on THF reads well and that is a sign of good sabakiing (is that a word? 😉 ) in spite of minor inconsistencies. well done, Kala!

        ah, yes, the title…
        i concur with Lorin that it would be fitting for the title to be short and The Shine is a good suggestion 🙂

  8. Dear Kala,
    Thanks so much for your guidance and encouragement over the past nine weeks. It was a wonderful Rasika renku trip, and I look forward to more. I would participate again in a short renku trip (it was fun) or a longer one (I haven’t had this chance yet). I think I’ve grasped the basics, but am still coming to terms with the finer points and subtleties. For instance, I had thought that we would not be able to include another animal after the ermine, but we have a lioness in the ageku. Is this because the ageku ‘is independent of all the other verses’ (your comment in week 8)? Anyway, I’m sure it will all become clear as time goes on! It has been a pleasure to read all the verses and comments and to learn from more experienced renkujin.
    Be well. Till next time.

    1. Lee, i think questioning two animals (and both predatory mammals at that) in a composition as short as the rasika is a valid point. i had the same thoughts. still, the sabaki has the last word and some compromises are inevitable.

    2. True, Lee & Polona. The winter weasel & the spring lioness do seem to pair up.
      The instructions for this ageku had so many proscriptions and desired qualities , though, that I think it would be very difficult to find, out of the offered verses, a suitable one that covered all bases. I tried, as an exercise.
      It was a hard ask, and I think a very hard, perhaps even an impossible job for Kala to select a verse which covered all bases.

      Also, I read that the ageku can break many of the usual rules or conventions:
      ” In order to meet these rigorous demands (leave-taking, augury, sense of completion) ageku is exempt from the general conventions that condition what a verse may or may not reprise. It is even possible for the 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.”
      – p87Renku Reckoner,- by John Carley. Darlington Richards Press, 2015
      Though Kala did designate ‘no season’ (or ‘all year’) and we have, in this ageku, a lioness in spring (‘cubs’ indicates spring), it is quite common in renku for the ageku to be a spring verse in the wake of a spring blossom verse. And what can express relaxation and contented completion better than a cat, big or small, wild or domestic, stretched out in grass under the sun? 🙂
      – Lorin

    3. Lee,

      Yes, you are right about *ermine* and *lion* appearing in an 8-verse renku – but Andrew’s offer was the best verse and like Lorin and I have said the *ageku* is an independent verse.

  9. I am a beginner in the Renku and only the patient guide of Kala Ramesh gave me the courage to present my poems, one was even taken into consideration even if not chosen, I would like to participate again, I find the Rasika Renku very interesting even if short and I like reading and appreciating truly admirable poems. Thanks for everything.
    I apologize for the modest knowledge of the English language

    1. You are most welcome, Margherita.
      I understand your problems – English is not my mother tongue too :))
      You did very well …

  10. Dear Kala,
    How deceptively simple the rasika renku seems!
    There are so many rules to remember and I got confused with the link and shift!
    But your direction and mentoring has helped me understand the true import of a rasika renku. The brevity aside, it was easier for me to see the connection between each verse and understand the logic for choosing one verse over the other. It is showing and not telling taken to an extreme! But that’s what gives it scope for our imaginations to run wild!
    I had a great time participating in the rasika renku.
    I hope you will add my name to your roster for any future endeavors.


    1. I guess you’ve heard that Faulkner saying…
      A novelist is a failed poet!

      Still poetry captures the heart and evokes emotions despite or maybe because of its very brevity.

      Every verse in this rasika renku was exquisite.


      1. I guess you’ve heard that Faulkner saying…
        A novelist is a failed poet!

        Yes, I love this comment and makes me smile each time I read it, Giri.
        Your participation and your encouragement have been amazing.
        Thank you so much.

  11. Congratulations Andrew, a lovely verse to conclude the Rasika.
    Thankyou and congratulations Kala, I enjoyed my first Rasika trip, learning as I went along. so touched by your comment on ‘Vaatsalya’.
    Thankyou Lorin for the informative comments, helpful to newcomers like me.

    1. so touched by your comment on ‘Vaatsalya’.

      Thanks, Madhuri.
      Thanks for being with us on this trip.
      You’d done so well. Loved many of your offers.

  12. I’m fine with your amendment, Kala.
    Thank you for choosing my verse
    love and good wishes

    1. Congrats, Andrew! Deer come to the fields by my house, and the doe also sleep in the tall grass to protect their fawns. Sometimes I can see their ears sticking out of the grass.

      asleep in the long grass
      a lioness with her cubs

      What a beautiful portrait in the wild.

  13. Wow ! Congratulations Kala ! Although I am new to the form and was trying to understand it through your comments and Lorin’s , it was so delightful to read so many beautiful verses week after week. Enjoyed thoroughly.
    Congratulations to all the poets who have been part of this Renku session !!

  14. A very nice link & shift, Andrew. Congratulations! 🙂
    Kala, congratulations on a most successful ‘first Rasika’ on THF. 🙂
    The shorter the renku, the harder it is in many ways, I believe, and the Rasika is the shortest.
    I’m honoured to have had my ku chosen for the hokku spot. A side benefit to that is that I had the luxury of sitting back and following the Rasika as it developed, week by week, thinking and learning.
    I do think the Rasika is a practical alternative for ‘live’ renku, when time is necessarily short. and I would try it with a ‘live’ group when the opportunity arises. The compression does mean it’s harder, though, like the Junicho (12 verse) but even more so, for both sabaki and participants.

    re title: thanks, Brendon for your suggestion. . . yes, the hokku was intended as implied greeting, anticipation and augury.

    Since the Rasika is a compressed form of renku, perhaps it might suit if the title was compressed, too? I’ll throw in a suggestion, too: ‘The Shine’ . . . even ‘Shine’ ?

    – Lorin

    1. I do think the Rasika is a practical alternative for ‘live’ renku, when time is necessarily short. and I would try it with a ‘live’ group when the opportunity arises. The compression does mean it’s harder, though, like the Junicho (12 verse) but even more so, for both sabaki and participants.

      Loved your comment, Lorin.
      Do try – I ‘ll be posting a much simpler version of rasika and that should work before we set out on a more longer renku trips.

      1. I do like your suggestions for the title, Lorin.
        Not able to find that thread here… :((

  15. Well done and congratulations, Andrew. Nicely done.

    Really enjoyed this session, Kala, and yes, it was interesting and informative, for me, as a newbie to this form of verse. Getting the words just right is difficult, and it’s certainly brings a smile to read each verse 🙂
    Since I found haiku poetry back in March, there is only one person, so far, I have mentioned haiku to that knew what it is. How wonderful it must be to have like-minded people close by, and have the time to spend together producing such marvellous verses.
    I have read the book- the taste of sea breeze- (more than once for the sheer enjoyment)
    The way it is presented give the reader the feeling of being there, in the café, feeling the heat, hearing the rain, wonderful book- as Mumbai as it gets 🙂
    I would take part again, if a session came along.
    Thanks for a wonderful party, Kala 🙂

    1. You’re welcome Kala!
      I do have a question though..the order of seasons.
      You started with autumn then winter but went to summer then spring. Is this the way of renga or was it a ‘rasika’ choice, I’ve been meaning to ask!☺


      1. You can arrange the seasons anyway you want … in any renku.
        But it is very important to cushion each season with a *no-season* verse.
        In longer renku trips – like the 22-verse or the 36-verse renku – they have two spring verses, and two autumn verses and three love verses coming together.
        In rasika, I don’t have space and so, had just 1 verse for each season sandwiched by a no-season verse. You can even play around with just 3 seasons!

        The purpose was to give the feel of a longer traditional renku, without sacrificing the nuances and the strength of this art form.


          1. Plus I forgot to mention, the hokku is written in the season we begin- we started this trip in autumn – so we began with the autumn moon!

          2. “. . . we started this trip in autumn – so we began with the autumn moon!” – Kala
            🙂 We began with the autumn moon, but whether we began the renku in autumn or spring (or neither, in tropical regions) is subjective, depending on where participants happen to be writing from in ‘world renku’.
            cheers, from the 2nd day of summer in Australia and New Zealand. 🙂 We’re having unusual weather, monsoon-like. At least the rain & continuous, brooding grey cloud cover has cooled things down from an uncomfortable 35+C. That balances out the flood in my kitchen. 🙂
            – Lorin

  16. Hi Kala
    Lovely choice of ageku, congratulations Andrew!☺

    I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in this rasika renku and would not hesitate to join another!
    Thank you all for the warmth and friendship on this journey…around the ‘virtual’ table with its comments et al.
    I will certainly start playing rasika renku with anyone who will have me…!☺
    I will also try my hand at sabaki when I have gained a little more knowledge of renga (enough to preserve tradition and do it justice!)

    My thought on a title would be taken from the hokku…

    Eight Champagne Glasses

    My idea behind this is that it is a celebration of introducing rasika renku. How better than to raise our 8 glasses to the first THF rasika renku! (which the hokku is implying…)

    peace and friendship

    1. Thanks, Brendon for your ideas and do try to participate and *lead* a renku – it’s not so difficult :))

      1. You’re welcome Kala!
        I certainly will be looking into doing just that!
        Once again, thank you for a wonderful trip, I’ve learned a lot! ☺

Comments are closed.

Back To Top