Sunday, September 2, 2012


In 1125 a Japanese imperial anthology of poetry (Kin’yōshū) was one of the first to contain examples of renga  or linked verse poetry. In the form, originally two or more poets supplied alternate verses. At the time renga were short, but in the 15th and 16th century the renga developed so that eventually it could hundreds of lines, but a favourite form was thirty-six lines, called a kasen. A rule of kasen was that it should refer to flowers (usually cherry blossoms) twice and to the moon three times. The verses were linked thematically and by verbal associations. Later the first verse of the renga developed into the single verse form – haiku.

Traditionally the first stanza of a renga is three lines with seventeen syllables. The second is a couplet with seven syllables in each line. This pattern of stanzas repeats to the end of the renga. The themes of the poem include associations to the seasons, nature, and love. Each stanza becomes a sort of springboard to jump to the next verse.
Renga parties were held with several poets joining in to compose the poem.

In modern times the term renga has been applied to less classical and more experimental poetry, e.g.  Octavio Paz, Charles Tomlinson (‘Airborne’), P.K. Page and Philip Stratford (And Once More Saw the Stars.)
An on line collaborative renga is ‘Riding White Roads.’ This was led by Jane Reichhold in 1996. Take a look at Reichhold  has written an article, Jump Start to Renga

Another interesting site about renga with examples of the poetry is
Happy reading and writing.

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