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The Renku Sessions: Triparshva—Call for ageku


Welcome to the third Renku Session. I’m Linda Papanicolaou, and I’ll be leading this journey in collaborative poetry. Triparshva is a 22-verse form developed by Norman Darlington in 2005. It’s a good form for composing online because it moves more quickly than the 36-verse kasen, while also following the jo-ha-kyu (beginning-development-rapid closure) pattern of traditional renku. So whether you’re new to renku, or simply want to keep your skills honed, you’re especially encouraged to join us.

About linking:

By now, as we’re nearing the end of our renku, you will have noticed that whenever I place a new verse, my focus is on how it links to and changes the reading of its maeku, the previous verse.  As an art teacher I actually came in through haiga, which is often described as having “renku-like linking” between the image and the text. Beyond the admonition given to novices that “haiku and image shouldn’t be about the same thing,” though, things get vague.  Wanting to learn more about linking drew me renku, where there’s actually a craft to linking, and a literature that will help you develop your skills.

I’d planned on talking about this material at the end of our renku, when we’d have plenty of links as examples, but it came up in discussion on the verse 20 thread so let me give you the material now. If you’re interested in learning more about are two sources that have been helpful to me:

Kondo and Higginson’s “Link & Shift” article on Renku Home is a good place to begin.  The authors explain and give examples of scent linking:

The Eight Manners are “person” (sono hito), “place” (sono ba), “season” (jisetsu), “time of day” (jibun), “climate” (tensô), “timeliness” (jigi), “compassion” or “empathy” (kansô), and “nostalgic image” (omokage). In each case, one enters into the world implied by the preceding stanza and brings out some essential characteristic of that supposed world in the following stanza. So, for example, one might find the setting suggested in one verse appropriate to a character introduced in the next, or vice-versa. One might see a possible seasonal aspect in a normally seasonless stanza, and so definitely move to that season in the next. And so on. Timeliness refers to current fashions; compassion to an appropriately empathic, or even religious response.

If you’re up for a 400 page dissertation, Herbert Jonsson’s  Haikai Poetics: Buson, Kitō and the interpretation of renku poetry (Stockholm univ. 2006) goes into the history of linking leading up to and after Basho. Heavy going and so not the place to begin. In great detail it surveys various treatises by old masters who were not always clear themselves what they meant, but if linking interests you, I recommend it.

Finally, another resource I just found and haven’t yet had a chance to read thoroughly is “The thrill and joy of ‘tsukeai’ Shuntaro Tanikawa on the art of linking verses”, in Poetry Internatonal Rotterdam, 13 August 2015.

Of those “eight manners” of linking, here are a few examples you should be able to see in our renku.  I’ll invite your to see what more you can find, and we can talk about it in the comments thread.

  • “person” (sono hito), in the link between verses 6 and 7 (as the morning mist clears away,  the Puyallups survey their lands)
  • “place” (sono ba), in the link between hokku and wakiku (our view of the table setting widened out to include a tent)
  • “season” (jisetsu): the link between verses 17 and 18 (the children with crayons, season is revealed to be winter by their jackets by a wood burning stove)

Meanwhile, to the matter at hand, our blossom verse:

Selection of Verse 21 (blossom):

This blossom verse was a bit of a challenge. First there was the hokku’s bowl of cherries, requiring care in selecting what kind of blossom to choose. Second there was spring shearing in the maeku, which probably eliminated early blooming trees such as plum. Finally, as if that weren’t enough, I called for a person verse.

I was immediately attracted by all three of Todd’s offers for their vivid depictions of blossom viewing people—an old man with a cane with his grandson, a tax accountant and a fool, both of them witty, oblique references to American income taxes. After the maeku of the border collie herding sheep, presumably in transhumance, it seemed to me that we should have something different than people on a path. The tax accountant also raised problems, what with an uchikoshi about mass (Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s: Mark 12:17).  That left the fool, which I think is a splendid verse. Here it is placed with maeku and uchikoshi:

a peal of bells
across the town
announces early Mass
~Marion Clarke

the border collie
herds freshly shorn ewes
~Agnes Eva Savich

the fool
always finds a perfect one:
apple blossom
~Todd Treloar-Rhodes

Do notice I’ve put a colon at the end of line 2 to signal a little more clearly that the break is not a kire.  The two consecutive verses beginning with “the” bothers me a bit but we can tune that later.  I love the switch from depicting imagery to a pithy aphorism. It links to the maeku by alluding to conventional wisdom the nature of sheep, but also turns the concept of “fool”  to something more of the natural wisdom of a Shakespearean court jester.  It’s  just what we needed for emphasis and an additional supercharge of energy at this point— a verse not to be missed! Thank you Todd.

Specifications for ageku:

We come to our final call for verse! Like the hokku, wakiku and daisan  with which we began last summer, the ageku is an important verse for the renku. It’s closure, where we tie things up at the end.  Here what has been said of the ageku:

The final verse of a renku sequence is the ageku, a name which implies not just an ending but also the fulfillment of anticipation: ‘at last’. In classical renku the ageku will take the same season as the preceding verse (spring blossom), though in recent variants it may be any season, or none.
Whatever the seasonal aspect the ageku has a performative function mirroring that of the hokku – this time combining elements of summary, salutation and augury.

In order to have the freedom to meet these demands the ageku may be largely exempted from the more rigorous demands of link, shift, and variety that condition the content and execution of all other verses of the sequence (hokku excepted).

The composition of the ageku is therefore, like that of the hokku, a special honour. The same poet would not be expected to figure in both, an exclusion which generally includes the wakiku, and may also extend to daisan. (JEC, “Renku, Beginnings and Endings”, in Simply Haiku 2004 and New Zealand Poetry Society)

An ideal ageku (the last verse) should have a hopeful and cheerful tone (Shinku Fukuda, Eiko Yachimoto, Fay Aoyagi, Judges for the Haiku Society of America’s 2001 Einbond Contest)

So here is the maeku and uchikoshi for our ageku,  and the specifics of what we’ll need:

the border collie
herds freshly shorn ewes

the fool
alwayss find the perfect one:
apple blossom

  • Our ageku must be a two-line person verse, seasoned all spring or late spring
  • The verse should sum up or otherwise bring closure to the renku. Here and there you may have read that the ageku comes round to close in to the hokku.  My understanding is that in Japan this is actually considered bad form.  Refer to what JEC said, quoted above.
  • Link to the maeku, shift from the uchikoshi, but regarding what JEC said about ageku being exempt from demands of link/shift/variety of content and execution, the operative words are “largely exempted”.  Use your judgment.
  • Give your verse a hopeful, cheerful tone (2001 Einbond judges quote above)


How to Submit:

All verse positions in this renku will be degachi. Please post your offers in the Comments section below. Let’s have an upper limit of 3 per participant.

The call for this verse will remain open until Monday, November 16, 2015 at midnight (EDT). At that time I’ll collect everyone’s ideas, consider each, choose the one that best serves the renku, and post it on Thursday.

Useful links and resources:

  • If you’re just joining us, please take a moment to review my Introduction to Triparshva post.
  • NEW: A full copy of the schema for the renku may be found at the bottom of the introductory page. I am filling in the verses as they are placed.
  • For the archive of previous calls and submissions, click here.


The Renku so far:

Side 1: jo

a bowl of cherries
sitting on each white plate
someone’s name
~Lynne Rees /su

under a canvas tent
the snap of a breeze
~Barbara Kaufmann /su

passersby stop
to applaud a subway
saxophone player
~Karen Cesar / ns

sweet reminiscences
of our bygone days
~Barbara A. Taylor / ns

yet again
the moon lights the loggerhead
as she digs
~Paul MacNeil / sp mn

with the twittering
morning mist clears away
~Maria Tomczak

Side 2: Ha

from the mountain top
Puyallup natives trace
their lands below
~Carmen Sterba / ns

who left the doors open
to Valhalla?
~Polona Oblak/ ns

rusty roofing iron
as a letterbox
~Sandra Simpson / ns

#smitten #diamond #yes
~Christopher Patchel / wi lv

at the Marquise
a clandestine romp
in neon flicker
~Judt Shrode / ns lv

his better half chambers
another round just because
~Betty Shropshire / ns lv

after a while
the life boat for refugees
floating hardly
~Vasile Moldovan / ns

the first pawlonia leaf
to touch the soil
~Maureen Virchau / au

how the setting moon
fills the garden
with darkness
~Gabriel Sawicki / au mn

I stagger through cricket songs
impaired by Gandalf Grog
~Patrick Sweeney / au

Side 3: Kyu

all the kids
cross off their days
with chunky crayons
~Beth McFarland / ns

jackets warming
by the wood burning stove
~Joel / w

a peal of bells
from across town
announces early Mass
~Marion Clarke / ns

the border collie
herds freshly shorn ewes
~Agnes Eva Savich / sp

the fool
always finds a perfect one:
apple blossom
~Todd Treloar-Rhodes / sp bl

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. children pick dandelions
    for next year’s wine

    (In wordpress – I use for the extra line space. I go to the html view and add it in last. Caution if you edit it again you will have to re-add the tags. It must be a capital B.)

  2. : ) thanx!
    Just for fun:
    “I too cannot maypole dance,”
    Lord Snake to Brother Turtle

      1. For this year’s Yuki Teikei retreat at Asilomar, the featured guest was David Lanoue, who talked about Issa and his empathy for animals. Love your verse, Todd–it’s just what we were all trying to write!

        1. David is a fine speaker and translator. I was taught years ago that uniquely Issa spoke to the animals, but do not try to imitate him and have the animals speak back!

          1. Yes, agree. Haiku speaking to animals is pretty cliche. It’s a matter of empathy. I realized during the exercises that I don’t have the Issa mindset so I can’t hear the animals speak. Roger Abe, does, though. Love his haiku.

    1. Ah–and could you tell that at this very moment I am at a most beautiful of beaches? Asilomar, for the annual Yuki Teikei Haiku Society retreat. No chicken soup yet but the food is always delicious.
      Looking forward to a workshop by David Lanoue this morning.

    1. 😀
      22 verses later, I’m still trying to get used to WordPress’s refusal to recognize double spaces in the comments threads.

      1. been the same problem for all 3 renku, Linda. My only way around it has been as I advised early on to punctuate in a line space


        or the like

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