Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Tan-renga – Week 12


Laurie Greer is our selector. Here is her report:

Thanks, everyone, for these many and varied offerings! Several themes stood out right away, such as music, weddings—shotgun and otherwise—and the equation of “run away” with “escape.”

But there were also many kinds of wildness and much else, such as intriguing/enigmatic story lines:

trolls don’t always hide
under bridges

Robert Kingston

So where are those trolls? And if they could be anywhere, is there really any running away?

a wink and a nod
from a wayward pixie

Carol Judkins

What is the signal here? Where has that pixie strayed from? And I love the whimsy of the scene.

anytime is ripe
to drop the truth

wendy c. bialek

Nice links with “anytime” and “ripe,” and this verse seems to point toward a specific “truth,” which raises interest in what that might be.

parachutes descend
into the unknown

Ivan Gaćina

Loved the openness here—there are no guarantees with running away…

reflection of the stars
in a clear river

Ivan Gaćina

…however clear the path ahead may seem.

Then I noticed some intriguing trains of thought:

dreams not followed
turn into nightmares

John E Daleiden

Would these nightmares arise from any repressed dream, or only dreams of running away? And is it too late to go once the nightmare starts?

And ingenious and/or rich linkages:

cloven-footed Pan
plays sweet music on his flute

Pauline O’Carolan

This one goes back to a pagan wildness, and leads one to ask if this music entices one to go or to stay? Would music be the vehicle for getting away or would it itself be a temptation to be fled from? Also, the “sweet”—which is perhaps ironic—contrasts nicely with the tartness of cherries.

Then there were verses with some notable use of language:

tango night…only the sheer
moon between us

Michelle Beyers

I liked how the suggestion of closeness in “sheer” also conveyed the sharp edge of separation of “shears.”

a cluster of buds
surrender to funky rock

Carole Harrison

In this one I love the hard consonants and the gesture to teenage escape through pop music

play that funky music

Keith Evetts

And here we get a flavor, a color, and that temptation to go wild with music.

a second past midnight
outside La Fenice

Robert Kingston

Here I paused over the connection to the phoenix: in rising from its own ashes, is it running away or staying put? Transformation and reinvention pose an interesting twist on the question of escape. I also appreciate the fairy tale resonance of the midnight, and the suggestion that art can be a way of running away.

Other verses impressed me for their skillful wielding of technique:

the last petals fall
on the passing boxcar

Keith Evetts

corpse in the boxcar

Keith Evetts

These gesture to, without mentioning, the iconic runaway image of the hobo—a life that can also mean running into dangers.

wearing the wind a kite works
every shade of the blues

princess k

I’ve always been partial to the power of repeated w’s, so I loved this, as well as the lovely image and the rich resonances of “blues,” from color to music to melancholy moods one might want to get away from.

And two more by Keith Evetts make strong statements about race, power, current events, and much else:

arrested by the sheriff
a swarthy prophet


customs check
the smuggler’s truck

While this one took on climate change:

the glaciers knock in cupboards
and volcanoes spew gold coins

John Daleiden

Other verses held surprises:

juggling fireballs
over quicksand

wendy c. bialek

Quite the trick!

the sky seems bluer
when viewed from a scaffold

Dan Campbell

What a way to go out—and I love the focus on the positive, which possibly offers a brief moment of escape before the condemned faces the reality.

a pickpocket caught

Carol Jones

The color link is nicely put to use here.

Or touches of humor:

too many dandelions
to count

Peggy Hale Bilbro

Here’s a homeowner overwhelmed by the state of the yard. No running away from the disapproval of the neighbors!

in the pit begin
the Rites of Spring

Keith Evetts

Humor and seriousness here—orchestra pit/cherry pit.

From the first, though, one verse really captured me. It speaks to the full emotional spectrum of both bonds and escapes, of freedoms that may not be welcome, and of what secures people to each other. I found this a thought-provoking look at what can mutually sustain or break us, as well as simply a powerfully moving picture of a parent trying to hold his children close, perhaps after another school shooting, or just to show them they are loved and to keep them from feeling any need ever to run away from home.

home from school
I hug them one by one

Keith Evetts

So our final verse is:

wild cherry
when is it too late
to run away

Laurie Greer

home from school
I hug them one by one

Keith Evetts


John speaking again:

Next, we will be taking a week off and then we will begin a twenty-stanza, nijûin, renku.

In two weeks, I will invite you to submit up to five hokku (opening verse) offers. In effect, you will have two weeks to compose and select your offers but please do not submit them until the invitation is posted.

The requirements will be as follows:

• A three-line verse of seventeen syllables or less

• Containing a spring season word or phrase from the site listed below

• Containing a single grammatical break, creating a two-part structure

• One of the first three verses will be a blossom verse, so the hokku may contain a blossom image but is not required to contain one

• Exhibiting a mood in the areas of serenity, gratitude, wonder, etc. in contrast to sarcasm, erotica, contention, etc.

• Exhibiting an open quality, suggesting much rather than stating any single idea

For this renku, we will be using this site ( as the source for our season words and images. Note that some spring topics are listed as “late spring.” Since the hokku will be the first in a series of three spring verses, “late spring” topics should be reserved for verses two or three and avoided in the hokku.

This week, please use the time to comment on your experiences during our tan-renga sessions. Thank you all. I hope you have enjoyed the tan-renga experience and that you may be encouraged to continue it with partners of your choice.

See you here in two weeks,




The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Well done, Keith, on having so many verses considered and your capping verse was a great choice by Laurie.

    Thanks for your insightful report, Laurie and thanks, John, for this enjoyable tan-renga. This was new to me and I loved how the resulting combination of verses played out (and particularly the combination of John Hawkhead’s creepy one and mine! 😄)

    Well done to all.


  2. Well done, Keith—you had a great bank of verses there and Laurie chose a very fitting one to cap hers.

    Thanks, Laurie, for your insightful report and John for hosting this unusual renku. I really enjoyed it and was particularly pleased with the resulting combination of John Hawkhead’s verse and mine. 🙂

  3. Dear john, keith, Marian, Laurie,
    Greetings. What a plethora of images, themes, takes in this Tan Renga platform
    so wonderfully draw; every week, so inspiring, encouraging; I really enjoyed this learning process.

  4. Thanks Keith, for an affecting capping verse, and to Laurie for taking time to highlight something from everyone in the submitted verses.

    I’m looking forward to the new renku session – who will be the sabaki?

  5. wild cherry
    when is it too late
    to run away
    Laurie Greer
    home from school
    I hug them one by one
    Keith Evetts
    I haven’t been following these tan renga sessions but have peeked in once or twice. So glad I did today. Keith’s verse is such a warm conclusion to Laurie’s beginning verse. I’m impressed!
    I hope to join in again for the forthcoming renku. Thanks, John, for keeping these going.

  6. I have provided a list of our completed tan-renga and have asked that they be added to the archive, along with our previously completed renku.

    1. Thanks, John-it will be great to see all of this together.

      Also I’d like to say that as someone still relatively new to renku, I’m eager to experience it in as many iterations as possible–the long and the short of it, as it were. I loved being able to submit anything and everything and felt how much that freed me up–stuff came to mind, page, and post that never would have otherwise, and I was often surprised that what I thought was just a minor toss-off was in fact what others found most resonant. By the same token, it’s also essential to practice working carefully and deliberately; maybe time for more of that now. But anything will be good!

  7. Congratulations to Keith on a fitting verse to round out this session. I enjoyed your commentary, Laurie. Thank you for mentioning one of mine.

    I’m so glad we are going back to ‘proper’ renku. These Tan-renga weeks have not, for me, had the same level of intellectual challenge that is so appealing about the long form renku poems. For me there wasn’t the excitement of Friday morning wake-ups to see where we were headed next. They ended too soon! An entree without a main course.

    The quality of the verses was amazing, though. So many beautiful images along the way.

    The selection by the starting verse poets of the capping verse was very interesting and the commentaries really well done.

    I note that John has limited the number of verses for the new renku to five (at least for the hokku). I think that’s good and hope it will continue for the rest of the renku as unlimited verses means that the selector’s job becomes very time-consuming and I think it means more thought will need to go into just how the links and shifts are made, which for me is the challenging but fun part of the game.

  8. “tan-renga”
    I joined in and found the beauty of words ….
    I feel happy.
    Thanks for all friends

  9. home from school
    I hug them one by one

    Keith Evetts

    Congratulations dear Keith Evetts!!
    very gorgeous!!

    Bravo dear John!!

  10. Congratulations, Keith, on a heartwarming verse. Thank you to Laurie for an intriguing analysis and to John S for allowing us to ‘play’ all these weeks. I love the venture of’s fun bouncing off the ideas of like minded haiku lovers. Have a great pause everyone until we meet again!

  11. Another week of intrigue and excitement. Thanks Laurie for the mention and in depth analysis on the chosen verses.
    Congratulations Keith. Welcome!
    Nice verse that works well.

  12. Congratulations, Keith, and thankyou Laurie for the mention. I enjoyed reading your comments.
    Thanks, John for keeping us going. Looking forward to the renku session.

  13. Many thanks Laurie, for this interesting analysis, and to John and Marion for the preceding work. It is an honour to be chosen for the capping lines. New to THF, this is my first venture into tan-renga: but now I am hooked (of course!).

    PS: Vanilla was the lead singer for the group Wild Cherry whose one big hit was Play That Funky Music.

    1. Keith–welcome to renku! Yes, it is habit forming. Thanks for the note on Vanilla–all the better! Looked up so many things this week, but missed that.

      And thanks to everyone and especially John–these 12 weeks have been full of excitement and illumination and so much else. Honored to have been part of it.
      Looking forward to our next venture!

Comments are closed.

Back To Top