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The Renku Sessions: Triparshva—Call for verse 20


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 19:

Oh, I loved the animals everyone offered—a cat, kittens, dogs, mice, an old raccoon, rabbit, squirrel, a yak, a python, and a hedgehog.  You may have seen that we had a discussion about snakes on the verse 19 thread about snakes and season (“snake” in general is in the saijiki as a summer kigo though there are spring and autumn kigo featuring them too; and I was interested to read on Gabi’s WKD page that in the Edo period snakes were grouped in the insect realm).  As a “baby animal”, “kitten” also has season implications—spring.  I had reservations about some of them.  The yak and the hedgehog verses linked nicely with the maeku but each seemed to direct attention out of the renku and would have been fine for earlier in the renku, but at this point where we’re gathering in to prepare for the end.  Conversely, the sleeping cat and the dog circling for a nap felt like they were a bit premature in preparing us for closure, since we do have three important spring verses to go—plus that the crickets two verses ago was also about animal noises, so however delightful that drop of milk on its whiskers, the cat’s snoring had a whiff of reversion.

I’ve learned to listen to the renku and these were all signals to me that mammals should wait a bit—for other reasons, too, as I’ll reveal shortly.  Meanwhile, the verse I’d like to place in this slot is Marion’s church bells.  True, we have touched religion with the Valhalla and wedding verses back in the ha. Occasionally I’ve written with people who are pretty strict about one such verse per renku, but my own training has been more flexible—what’s important is overall variety (you don’t want the renku to feel like there’s a theme), and whether revisiting a topic comes at it in a different way.  My sense is that we’re okay on all counts, and I do like the way the ringing of bells gives us a fresh infusion of energy as we enter the final three spring verses.  Like a bell lap!

My one reservation is that not ago we had our moon and cricket verses, so I think we’d better not go back to night so quickly.  Marion, may we make it simply “Mass”?  That might also involve moving the line break. Here would be the verse with maeku and uchikoshi:

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

jackets warming
by the wood burning stove

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

Specifications for verse 20:

This will be the first verse of our final spring run. Maeku and uchikoshi are

jackets warming
by the wood burning stove

a peal of bells
from across town
announces Mass

The requirements are as follows:

  • This will be a two-line verse, spring
  • Link to the maeku, shift from the uchikoshi.
  • It could be either a person or a non-person verse
  • After two indoors verses, the church bells took us outdoors again, so we’ll need to stay outdoors or be of indeterminate setting
  • We’re now past the plunge of the waterfall and into the “quiet close” phase of the kyu.  Keep the language simple and avoid information that might send readers out of the renku.
  • We still don’t have a mammal. Several of the mammal verses you offered for verse 19 could be tweaked into a spring verse by making them baby animals–puppies, kittens, raccoon cub, etc.  In fact the only animals we have had are reptiles, birds and insects. Most notably that leaves amphibians—and  frogs are spring season references.  Is anyone up to the challenge of doubling two animal categories into a two line verse?  Caution:  rules of kannonbiraki loom over us here.  We can have animals either here in verse 20 or in verse 22, the ageku, but not both. 
  • Also caution: We have children in a not-so-long-ago verse, so as Betty pointed out in the comments thread the “baby animals” kigo or any season reference about young animals will probably have a reversion problem.
  •  It isn’t necessary to have a mammal, or even an animal in this slot, so if inspiration takes you elsewhere, feel free to  write other spring topics too.  Just note that verse 20 will be the maeku for our blossom verse, so I will refrain from taking any verse with flowers, or most likely plants in general.


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 2, 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

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 Mass
~Marion Clarke / ns

This Post Has 49 Comments

      1. Love the dog and the image, but I wonder if we don’t need a bit more energy than another declarative sentence. An imperative, maybe? What kind of command might a shepherd give the dog? Or the dog give the sheep?

        Or, more simply, would a more vivid verb do the trick? Sorry I don’t know more specific language for sheep herding.

          1. [commented edited]

            “Undulate” certainly describes a herd of sheep moving, but the more I think about it, the more I like the simplicity of the first version. Among other things, the two previous verses have prepositional phrases, and your original version minus the reference to “pasture” doesn’t. I would change the line break:

            the border collie
            herds freshly shorn ewes

    1. This is lovely, but “boots” is an article of clothing, and we have “jackets” in the uchikoshi. What else might have been left in the mud at the edge of the field?

        1. My problem with the hoe is that it’s metal, rusts if left out, and thus reminds me of the mailbox. But I think you’re onto something–I wonder if it’s possible to find something else that preserves the sense of spring fever that made the original version so nice.
          footprints in the mud
          at the edge of the field
          . . . or, to get our animal in. . .
          hoofprints in the mud
          at the edge of the field

    1. It links nicely and would set up well for the blossom verse, though we did have a garden four verses back. Do keep tossing in ideas!

    1. 😀
      I wasn’t sure about season in this one–got it. Nice. It links beautifully with the bells and opens nicely to the next verse.

  1. A note to everyone: We have children in a not-so-long-ago verse, so as Betty pointed out in the comments thread the “baby animals” kigo or any season reference about young animals will probably have a reversion problem.
    Betty has suggested that I add this information to the original post. Which I have–it’s now in the specifications for verse 20. Thanks, Betty.

  2. toads dance in the rain
    dogs hide


    a puddle squirms with toads
    after a downpour


    boys stir the creek’s edge
    froglets jump out

    (This last one might be wrong for its reference to young ones. I was thinking of early spring, though.)

    1. Some nice imagery, Christa. In the traditional saijiki, though, frogs are spring season references and toads are summer. Would you like to work on these a little more?

    1. Deer are an autumn season reference, Carmen. Would you like to continue to work on this?

  3. the best show in the open
    is the chorus of frogs


    even nowadays mothers
    sometimes feed cuckoo chicks

    the hunter’s bitch breast-feeds
    a wolf puppy too

      1. You’re right–good catch! So if our animal verse is in this slot, “baby animals” is out. The ageku (verse 22) would be okay, though.

        Save this. Depending on what we place in verses 20 and 21 (the blossom seat), this one has closure and might make a good ageku.

        1. So maybe a revision of your explicatory notes for verse 19 is needed??? Not everyone reads the comments before posting.

  4. So my snoring cat was too noisy, Linda! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I’m pleased you liked my peal of bells offering. I did wonder if Mass on its own sounded a little abrupt and whether ‘early Mass’ might work? But if you’re happy enough with it, please go ahead as you have suggested.


    1. Quite the opposite–my sense was that a break and a turn was what was needed at this point. The bells fit perfectly.

        1. The cross didn’t register with me anyway, Joel. I was responding to your lovely image of coats drying in front of a wood burning stove. This reminded me of how we used to dry our scarves and gloves on my parents’ big kitchen stove after coming building a snowman in the front garden. This in turn led me to think of how we always wished for a white Christmas when walking to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve…

        2. That’s a good quesiton, Joel. I didn’t see it because it’s a connection at the level of word linking and we’ve generally been linking at scent level, and the usage of “cross” is so different in the two. Since it is a word link, I think we could deal with it by tweaking–“mark off” for instance, so let’s let it go and edit later.

          1. Linda – that helps me understand – I sometimes have trouble seeing the link or see links that aren’t there but I think I tend to be too literal. I like your “scent level” phrase! I will do more “sniffing out” of the link.
            Marion – you saw something similar to what I saw – for me it was Grandma and Grandpa’s house after sledding down the hill behind their house and hoping when we came out of Mass on Christmas Eve it would be snowing!

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