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The Renku Sessions: Triparshva—Call for verse 17



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.

Selection of Verse 16:

The submissions for verse included roe deer, moose, raccoon, snake, sardine, gold fish, crickets and mole crickets–a nice array.  I’m also interested in the verses that included alcoholic beverage. As I said in the call for this verse, when I see the same topic come in on several submissions, it’s a signal that people sense the topic may be one that’s needed at this point. I listen to you!

Particular thanks this time to Paul for noting that we need an exclamatory verse, and that we have not yet had a first person singular.  This was the comment that really helped me to thread through several verses I liked in and of themselves, and come up with a solution that I think will finish off our ha nicely.

The verse I’d like to place for slot 16 is Patrick’s. I do feel it needs some trimming.  “Bipedalism” makes a witty contrast between man on his two legs and the crickets on six, but it makes the line long and even when you know what the word means, it brings the reading while you process it.

For me the heart of the verse is being drunk on a night full of cricket songs. I’d like to give that image a chance to bloom in the mind of the reader, then cap it by that rum toddy with a Tolkien name (yes, Gandalf Grog exists–there’s a recipe online!). So mindful of Paul’s suggestion—if Patrick is agreeable—I’d like to simplify this verse by making it first person:

I stumble through cricket songs
impaired by Gandalf Grog

For the verb, I picked “stumble” because it seemed to me that’s how the character might be walking; plus it has assonance with “Gandalf”.  But I’m open to alternate suggestions.

I’m also going to suggest an edit for the moon verse, slot 15. As you may recall, when I announced my choice for that verse I mentioned the possibility of tweaking it into an exclamation. At the time, I held off waiting to see what might transpire for verse 16.  Now, however, is a good time.  I’d like to pull the three autumn verses together with this bit of editing, if Gabriel assents also, of course:

the first paulownia leaf
to touch the soil
~Maureen Virchau

how the setting moon
fills the garden
with darkness!
~Gabriel Sawicki

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

We have the first leaf falling.  Its night, the garden filled with darkness as the moon goes down. Amid the crickets here’s our poet, himself buzzed.  As a three-verse run, it flows and morphs smoothly through the links, and I think it’s a good, definitive finish for the side. I hope you like it as I do.


Specifications for verse 17:

With verse 17 we enter our third side of rapid close: the kyu. In that analogy of jo-ha-kyu to the stages of conversation at a social gathering, kyu is the party breaking up, the guests taking leave of each other, thanking the host, etc.  Another more expressive analogy that I like is to a waterfall.  John Carley put it thus:

“Master Zeami reputedly likened jo-ha-kyu to the course of a mountain river: jo is the tributary’s gentle rill; ha the river in spate as it cuts back and forth between mountain peaks; and kyu the plunge of a mighty waterfall into a deep and silent pool.” (Renku Reckoner pp. 90-91).

JEC has also seen analogies to music, with the kyu as rapid diminuendo (” A Brief Introduction to Renku Composition”, World Haiku Review 2/1, March 2002).

With all this in mind, what we’ll need in verse 17 is imagery that will put us atop the waterfall (figuratively, I mean). Simple, straightforward writing, without allusion, literary reference etc.—no extratextual references that would kick the reader out of the poem.

Here again are the maeku and uchikoshi (pending authors’ assent to the edits):

how the setting moon
fills the garden
with darkness!

I stagger through cricket songs
impaired by Gandalf Grog

. . . and the specifications for verse 17:

  • Three lines
  • Non-seasonal
  • Person
  • Link to the maeku, shift from the uchikoshi.
  • Consult the topic diversity charts on Renku Home to see what we haven’t included yet
  • The following topics are in intermission:  boat, trees, leaves, garden, earth or soil, night or darkness, heavenly phenomena
  • From here on we should also avoid literary or other extratextual references, and keep the language of the verses fairly simple and straightforward.


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, October  12, 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 a call for the next verse 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

This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. just having fun – thanks! 🙂

    he lost her
    photograph now there’s
    hell to pay

    the grandkids laugh
    at what they find
    playing hide and seek

    his shoes left on the
    deck reek of something
    we can’t comprehend

    1. Crossing off the calendar is nice linking. It’s a lot of first person, coming after that maeku, though. Is there a way to recraft it as third person plural without losing its effectiveness?

      1. We can change it easily to something like:

        all the kids
        cross off the days
        on their calendars

        Although we’ve now lost the question of why they were doing it on my calendar.
        It could also be:

        all the kids
        cross off the days
        on the kitchen calendar

        or slightly different:

        all the kids
        cross off their days
        with chunky crayons

    1. I really like the way you’ve turned the beverage topic of the maeku in this one, Marilyn. My concern is that even though there’s no punctuation, “thank goodness” is kind of an exclamation, which is what we have in the uchikoshi. Could you keep working on it?

  2. leaving the tavern
    a lonely traveller
    on two paths

    in front of the church
    even the village drankard
    is crossing himself

  3. tree frogs
    live on my front stoop
    there are signs


    ln this world
    even a small window
    provides wonder

    1. Frogs are a spring kigo, Pat, but the second verse is a good non-seasonal one.

  4. Linda-sensei,

    Whatever serves the Renku is fine by me.

    Cheers and thank you for all your hard work.


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