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The Renku Sessions: Call For Hokku


Hello, Renku Writers—I am so happy to be going on this renku journey with you. We are going to write a nijuin renku which, as many of you know, is a twenty-verse poem.

I’ve given some thought to where in the year’s cycle we should start this renku. It’s interesting that we are starting in mid-May which is on the cusp of spring/summer in the northern hemisphere and fall/winter in the southern hemisphere. So we could start this renku in any season and somewhere on our lovely planet it would be the “right” season. If we start the nijuin in autumn or spring, the hokku (first verse) would be a moon verse. And so to start us off, your assignment is to write a three-line verse with “moon” or “harvest moon,” as the subject if you live in the southern hemisphere and “spring moon” or “hazy moon” if you live in the northern hemisphere. There are other expressions such as “moonlight” or “hazy moonlight” or “moon bow,” etc. which would be acceptable, as well. Thus, the verse that is chosen for the hokku will determine whether we will be writing a spring or an autumn nijuin renku.


Please submit your verses by Tuesday midnight US Central Daylight Time; I look forward to reading them.


Patricia Machmiller





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This Post Has 152 Comments

  1. Hi Patricia, I made it just under the wire! Thank you for being our renku guide. Like Stephanie this in my first online renku…looking forward to it. Mimi

    hazy moon
    the last one arrives
    two hours late

    spring moonshine
    he’s opening
    a second bottle

    hazy moon
    the angel statue
    with closed eyes

  2. This is my first HNA online Renku 🙂 I’m excited for the many views on this 20-week excursion. And thank you, Patricia, for being our guide.

    1. her dance card
      on a tray
      hazy moon


      title page
      the hazy moon
      a cradle song


      finally baffled
      by the foghorn
      hazy moon

  3. lilacs
    under the flower moon
    imaging peace

    full flower moon
    just over the horizon
    many points of view

    1. .
      jump, frog!
      why not
      into the moon

      – Keith Evetts
      Love this Keith – classic hokku!
      step into the ring
      hazy moon!
      spring peepers

      1. 🙂 no, not a classic hokku, princess, but a very interesting verse and definitely, as a haiku, a winner.

        1. Thanks for your comment Lorin. For my education and for purposes of discussion, would you please explain?

          1. Ah, princess, I really shouldn’t have jumped in and made that comment, but since I did and since I see your query this morning (morning where I am, in cold Melbourne, anyway) I should clarify.

            From what I learnt (from John Carley and John Stevenson) a hokku is the first verse of a renku. A haiku might often look exactly the same as a hokku. The difference is that a haiku stands alone but the hokku ( meaning “head verse”)in renku is followed by a 2-line verse (the daisan) which must link to the hokku.

            But Wikipedia says it all far better than I could:
            “Hokku (発句, lit. “starting verse”) is the opening stanza of a Japanese orthodox collaborative linked poem, renga, or of its later derivative, renku (haikai no renga).[1] From the time of Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), the hokku began to appear as an independent poem, and was also incorporated in haibun (in combination with prose). In the late 19th century, Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902) renamed the standalone hokku as “haiku”,[2] and the latter term is now generally applied retrospectively to all hokku appearing independently of renku or renga, irrespective of when they were written.[3] The term hokku continues to be used in its original sense, as the opening verse of a linked poem. ”

            Here’s a hokku from the renku “Summer Moon” (sabaki Basho) followed by the daison:

            in town
            the smells of things –
            summer moon (Boncho)

            it’s hot it’s hot
            at each portal the sigh (Basho)

            (from ‘Monkey’s Raincoat’ by Matsuo Basho, translated by Maeda Cana )

            …and while I find Keith’s verse excellent and humorous, it doesn’t feel like a hokku (first verse of a renku) to me:

            jump, frog!
            why not
            into the moon – Keith Evetts

            Probably that’s because a saijiki will have ‘moon’ as an autumn kigo and ‘frog’ as a spring kigo (if we go by “The 500 Essential Season Words’ , the only online kiyose I know of:

            ( I’ve done the jumping frog thing, too 🙂

            a frog jumps into whoops
            the bouillabaisse

            It’s a internal verse (not a hokku, not a haiku) in the renku ‘Early Morning Heat’- sabaki: the late John Carley. We had a lot of fun
            doing that renku, which be found here:

          2. Thanks for the explanation Lorin. I appreciate your experience and the insightful commentary that you often provide.

  4. the moon joins
    a juggler’s side show
    spring festival


    Spring Festival
    the moon joins
    a juggler’s side show

  5. Harvest Festival
    the moon joins
    a juggler’s side show


    the moon joins
    a juggler’s side show
    harvest festival

    1. Lorin….Bravo…WOWs! Well-worth the weight!
      That must have been some majestic birthday
      bringing all your life’s wisdom to your fabulous moon
      hokku….i am already writing wakiku in response!

      1. LOL! (Nancy….a spellchecker could never make this mistake)…just winging my way without my first coffee sip!)

        well worth the wait

        1. Yes, Wendy, you are right. Otto is sometimes mean, though. At least I have found it to be so. 😉

  6. Good Morning Patricia!
    I am happy to join and participate! This will be a wonderful journey. 🙂

    You mentioned moon bow, and I remember I wrote this hokku in 2014. 10 years later… it is still a fond memory.

    the moonbow
    of a waterfall –

    1. Diana–so glad you had a moonbow experience–which you never forgot. We’re so lucky to be haiku and renku writers–it helps us remember.

  7. Hello, Patricia! So excited to begin my 2nd renku and all the wonderful learning that comes along these next 20 weeks.

    newly stuffed
    harvest moon

  8. Last week, I neglected to say “hello,” Patricia. Please accept my apologies.

    In honor of Pentecost Monday, here’s a feeble offering:

    the same moon
    world over

  9. near morning…
    flatbed loaded
    with moonset
    near evening…
    flatbed loaded
    with moonrise
    day gets hazy
    around the moon
    hazy moon…
    the day’s hopscotch dust
    hangs in the air

  10. Gracias Patricia and it’s great to see everyone’s contributions again!

    tonight’s omens
    dim stars
    a stray moon

    stray moon
    me home

    my sins
    to a full moon

    further away
    unfaithful moon

    for fallen angels
    full moon

  11. moonbeams…
    the busy spinnerets
    of an orb weaver
    silk moon
    an orb weaver smooths
    the paths through the stars
    scallop shell…
    moonlight in hand
    to start the journey
    pilgrimage moon…
    lines of the scallop
    impressed in his hand

  12. silver
    in our hair
    hazy moon

    flower moon
    a line of conscripts
    at the whorehouse

    hazy moon
    forgive our boot prints
    on your face

  13. Thank you, Patricia, for taking this on.
    Look forward to another fun renku ride with all friends here.

    A few of my offers:

    dusk walk…
    through a single bubble
    hazy moonlight


    flower moon
    watering a small world
    of the family’s own


    spring milk moon
    the ambrosia
    a little at a time

  14. Hello, Everyone–I am so happy to see all the wonderful renku writers. Many of you I know from previous renku engagements. Those who are new to me–welcome. I am very excited to get to create this poem with all of you. I have a wedding to go to so will be back reading your inputs in a day or two.

  15. the moon’s
    a muse –
    listen to the howls

    a mermaid
    swimming in

    enjoying their
    sweet fragrance –
    flowers that bloom in moonlight

    lunar tides
    tugging at
    my heartstrings

    a prodigal son
    searching for home
    in the moonlight

  16. that hopeful face
    when you are half here
    hazy moon

    bringing to light
    our unique quirks
    hazy May moon

  17. Looking forward to kicking off a new renku!

    Here’s my offer:

    mewing kittens
    mother calico
    nurses the hazy moon

  18. .
    the original influencer
    with a flair for gray –
    this hazy moon!
    238,900 miles
    of pedestrian –
    this hazy moon!
    the rise
    of the minimalist wardrobe –
    this hazy moon!
    a different face
    every night –
    this hazy moon!
    so chic!
    the timeless silhouette
    of a hazy moon

  19. taking a shine
    to the blackbird
    young moon

    hollow moon
    a crack in the shell
    of the first grebe chick

    spring moon
    a raft of sea otters
    afloat on its back

    evening showers
    the moon caught
    in satin pyjamas

  20. power outage –
    hazy moon in the polished
    stone walkway

    hazy moon –
    dialogue of two robins
    in the darkness

  21. Thanks Patricia, and hello to all!

    milk moon
    the first round
    of chemo

    I turn off
    your bedside light
    flower moon

    mother’s moon
    another episode
    of the supernatural

  22. crescent moon
    humming a lullaby
    from his grandfather’s primer
    hazy moon
    the seer pauses
    over a card

  23. spring moon
    a little hazy tonight
    my father’s memory

    flower moon
    she picks out some pinks
    for the bridesmaid dresses

    the night busker
    sings songs from the sixties…
    flower moon

  24. white clover moon
    the tapping
    of his cane
    half moon
    the dark side
    of our family tree
    soft moonlight
    the hiss of a feral
    a little less fierce

  25. young and hopeful
    a moon high and clear
    as the seasons change

    May is out !
    early though in the month
    the moon’s a shaving !

    no moon
    brightens the fallen leaves
    as days shorten

  26. spring night
    one moon
    so many poets

    and so
    we begin again
    spring moon

    the upturned faces
    of meadow buttercups
    flower moon

    old friends and new
    the budding silver birch
    the champagne moon

    geese arrive
    a wisp of moon
    along the river

    above the bars
    in all the world
    this misted moon

  27. hazy moon
    tapping the keg on
    a new IPA

    strawberry moon
    rows and rows of
    the underprivileged

    twilight double header
    the moon slowly makes
    her way home

  28. Thanks for taking this on, Patricia. And welcome, renku friends. Much looking forward to it.


    midnight moon
    a world
    half awake

  29. in the waters of spring
    more sleepy day moons
    than i can count


    spring moon
    never called
    first witness


    waking up
    to humpty-dumpty
    sleepy spring daymoon

  30. Welcome all renku addicts (old and new) and welcome back to an extraordinary start to a new nijuin run by our experienced and modern sabaki, Patricia.
    Happy Birthday wishes for Lorin, and being grateful for the schema link provided by our princess k!

    So pleased that renku sessions returns so quickly into the calendars!

    1. Hi Wendy, Thank you for the welcome and looking forward to your insights and sense of humor….agree with all your comments. Hope Lorin recovers from her birthday party. Clysta

      1. Hi Clysta
        Happy to hear from you again and read your contributions, too!
        enjoying the May merriment and your compassionate, spam!

      2. Hi, Clysta–So good to see you here–looking forward this session. So many voices I recognize-and some new ones too. Should be fun.

  31. Welcome Patricia and thank you for leading this renku – looking forward to learning from yet another sabaki’s perspective on renku.
    For anyone who is interested, here is a link to a published schema for the nijuin renku: As always, looking forward to reading everyone’s contributions.

  32. Great that you’re not one of those who continue to believe in the Flat Earth theory, Patricia. 🙂
    I look forward to participating in this renku. And today is my birthday ( 17th May, AEST – Australian Eastern Standard Time) 🙂
    So I’ll probably try to post something tomorrow.

      1. Thanks, Keith. 🙂 I’m late to answer because I had a little accident. Happy to be here! \
        (ps it must be round about your birthday by now, I reckon. Happy Birthday Keith! 🙂 And may we gave many to come.

      1. Thanks, Carol. 🙂 Good to “see” you again, too. It’ll be spring lamb time for you over there in Wales, won’t it? Freezing cold autumn here.

        1. Lambing is all done and dusted for many of us, its been a very wet few months, but at last the sun has made an appearance.
          Keep those little tootsies of yours cosy, Lorin.

    1. Happy birthday, Lorin–so glad to see you here. I look forward to seeing you verse from the other hemisphere . . . 🙂

      1. Many thanks, Patricia. I’m really happy to be here at all! Thank you for sabaki-ing another renku. I’ve missed them. 🙂

  33. rose compass
    following the lodestar
    of a hazy moon
    hazy moon
    no plans yet for the linen
    spun from fresh flax

  34. the moon reflects
    on Gaia’s offspring
    May merriment

    your filter too
    is filled with spam
    hazy moon

    1. half moon
      the sharing of
      a secret

      an eye
      that’s opening
      half moon

      half moon
      the emptiness seen
      and unseen

      half moon
      the mind wandering
      before sleep

      short life
      yet long enough
      half moon

  35. Greetings, Patricia–thank you so much for taking this on! Very much looking forward to these next twenty weeks!
    hazy moon
    a warming wind kneads spring clay
    into shape
    hazy moon
    a spill of batting
    from the memory quilt

    1. Hi, Laurie–so great to “see” a familiar voice. I’m looking forward to this dialogue (?)–what’s the word if it involves more than two people? Anyway–it’s exciting to see so many people new and familiar . . .

  36. Hello and welcome. Patricia. Many thanks for taking us on another poetic journey.

    string of pearls
    the moon lights
    each dewdrop

  37. Hi Patricia, I am happy to join you and all who participate! Thank you for taking this on.

    over the sprinkler’s moonbow
    hands free

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