A poem-a-day for National Poetry Month

Prompt #24: Chain Renga

Today’s form prompt is brought to us today by Nikki Magennis. It’s all about the Chain Renga, a cool but complicated poem structure. You can join with friends, use the poems to jump off from or follow along with Nikki’s prompt in the comments.


Jasmine Revolution – Chain renga

Would anyone like to join in a chain renga? We need at least three people.

The idea of renga is to express ‘change’ – more on that below.

The poem will be written over 36 verses, alternating 5-7-5 stanzas with 7-7 stanzas.  Each verse should relate to the previous one, whether overtly or obliquely. There are various other subtle and complex rules and ideas, but I propose we treat the form fairly loosely to begin with.

I propose a title/starting point of ‘Jasmine Revolution’.


More on the form here, taken from the Wikipedia entry<a href = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renga/a>:

‘The essence of renga is in the idea of “change” (変化, henka?). Bashō described this as “newness (新み, atarashimi?), and as “refraining from stepping back”.
A renga starts with a hokku of 5-7-5 sound units. This is followed by the second verse of 7-7 sound units, called the waki (脇?, “side”), and then by the third verse of 5-7-5 sound units, called the daisan (第三?, lit., “the third”). The next verse will be 7-7 sound units, and this pattern is repeated until the desired length is achieved.
The kasen renga, favored by Basho because it was easier to complete 36 verses in one night than the normal 100-link renga, has three sections of development. The beginning, called the jo should reflect the atmosphere of the beginning of a social evening – everyone is very polite, restrained, cautious and referring to the reason for the gathering.

The middle part of the kasen renga (verses 7 – 29) are more loose, and will include themes not allowed in the beginning and end such as love, religion, and laments. This reflects the conversation flow during dinner when the wine has been consumed and the participants are feeling free and friendly. The kyu is the rapid finish and involves the last six verses. The speed in this section is much like the broken conversation of people as they prepare to leave the party and people are quickly winding up their conversations.

The ageku is the final verse. It is considered fine if the final verse makes some reference or has a tie to the hokku or beginning verse.
A renga and its participants are judged on how well each link relates to the previous one. The most common technique of linkage used by beginning English writers is simple stream of consciousness. The previous verse reminds the writer of something else and then adds that image to the poem.

Examples and more ideas on the form here: http://www.renga-platform.co.uk/webpages/renga_01.htm

‘The two key principles of renga are link and shift. Link means that each verse should connect in some way with its immediate predecessor. Shift means that, with the exception of the link just noted, each verse should move on, drawing on imagery, which is new’



Reminders for Participants: You can post your poem below in the comments, offer a link back to your site where the poem is posted, or comment about the experience of writing the poem (without actually posting the poem). If you’re going to comment on other participant’s poems, please remember that this is not a critique space — comments should be kept thoughtful and supportive. Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the prompt to write your poem — they’re here for your inspiration but they’re certainly not a requirement.

Let the Wild Poeming Being!

65 responses

  1. 1)
    They stand, basking in
    The sunlight ‘midst the winter
    Of their discontent

    April 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm

  2. Excellent post thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading and writing poems very much. It’s very relaxing. Thanks again.

    An Easter Poem

    April 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  3. 2.)
    The bud furled tight, when prodded,
    must open to the spring time.

    April 24, 2011 at 5:44 am

  4. Cold moving storms
    Heading east
    Dissipate precipitously

    April 24, 2011 at 5:50 am

  5. Bill Noble

    Grumpy poem, and not an Easter poem at all. What am I to do with myself?


    And while it’s growing, praise
    the pure promise of a Trump,
    the small-town honesty of Palins.
    Tornadoes, floods? Accidents,
    or nothing but God’s holy wrath
    for some vile sinner’s sodomy.
    Your welfare? Vote against it
    (I don’t mean Welfare). Hate,
    but only as your Christian duty,
    and let your jobless sons enlist,
    that Boeing and GE may profit.
    So, how’s your penis doing now?
    Don’t even bother with a ruler:
    When you get charged that much,
    I’m sure it’s getting inches bigger.

    April 24, 2011 at 8:15 am

  6. dorlamoorehouse

    I actually happened to read a chain renga in the newest issue of the Kenyon Review this morning before going over to check out today’s prompt.

    The serendipity means I probably should have followed today’s prompt, but I’ve had inspiration via Lady Gaga bouncing around in my head for 2 days now, and needed to use it: http://dorlamoorehouse.com/2011/04/24/napowrimo-day-24-3/

    April 24, 2011 at 8:15 am

  7. 4.)

    Mud clings to boots, leaves footprints
    we can’t control our dreams

    April 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

  8. 5.)

    muddy footprints blur
    against the slated path’s shine
    smoothing until gone

    April 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

  9. Robin Elizabeth Sampson


    dandelions, daffodils
    vying for my attention

    April 24, 2011 at 8:52 am

  10. Pingback: Happy Easter and what’s for dinner?

  11. Mine for today was sparked off by an article about a painting: Phil Root’s ‘Egg within a Ball’: http://wp.me/pbg4K-57.

    April 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

  12. 7.) The petals chatter
    whirling beating on the wind
    the birds perch nearby

    April 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

  13. 8.)
    Giddy with the warmth of sun,
    dappled shadows play with leaves.

    April 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

  14. 9.)

    Between wingtips buzz
    a clouds of gnats dances high
    scattering shadow

    April 24, 2011 at 11:29 am

  15. 7.)

    Spike-edged leaves picked for salads —
    this sharp spring wonder.
    Sun licks dressing from your lips

    April 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

  16. ((Ah, damn, I posted at the same time as Nikki. Oops 😛

    Ignore mine, since it’s out of place.))

    April 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

  17. Robin Elizabeth Sampson

    awww Shanna. Let’s see if I can come up with something to slip in there


    my face clouds with remembrance
    warm Spring days almost now past

    there – your verse should be able to tie to that!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm

  18. Robin Elizabeth Sampson

    so, now Shanna’s verse should be #11

    April 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    • I was wondering how many stanzas would bump into each other! Well done for smoothing that out, Robin.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

  19. Woot! Second poem for the day, from the same article but referencing a different painting: http://wp.me/pbg4K-5a.

    I’m caught up to the one-a-day again. Need to hold on just six more days :).

    April 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

  20. ((Thanks Robyn! Leave it to me to screw it up! 🙂 ))



    Spike-edged leaves picked for salads –
    this sharp spring wonder.
    Sun licks dressing from your lips

    April 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

  21. 12.)

    Don’t spare me the lemon juice
    Don’t blunt your mouth with white lies

    April 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  22. 13)
    It’s not the lying
    That angers me so much as
    It’s bald faced nature

    April 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

  23. 14)

    Flowers turn their faces
    to the fence. A kind of shame.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

  24. 15)

    Rooting down below
    to grasp some dirt-bound essence
    required skyward.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  25. 16.)
    Tears of sorrow and of joy,
    both nourish the thirsty depths.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

  26. Dew upon dew falls,
    mist lays down in sheets. Enough
    times to rise a flood.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

  27. 18.)
    the sudden drumming of rain
    splatters judgement in this way

    April 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

  28. 19.)
    leaves, flowers, trees, none
    are excused from nature’s court
    all rise for the sun

    April 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm

  29. 19)
    Sleeping ‘neath the soil
    Fruit of judgement starts to heave
    Its way into view

    April 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm

  30. Whups – I doubled with Jacque. Let me see if I can fix that.

    Bailiff’s gavel summons all;
    They answer, save the sleeper.

    Sleeping ‘neath the soil
    Fruit of judgement starts to heave
    Its way into view

    April 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

  31. 22.)
    Brown eye looks up to gold,
    Sunflower turns to greet sun.

    April 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

  32. 23)

    Somewhere, summer has ended.
    The bee doesn’t know.
    She hums, singing, to the blue.

    April 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm

  33. Pingback: National poetry month day #24

  34. Mary Beth Frezon

    Passing flower to flower
    Seeding the generations

    April 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm

  35. secret messages
    carried silently to each,
    dancing in the wind

    April 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm

  36. Jennifer P-W.

    Who tunes the bees’ hums?
    Who loosens the strings of tides,
    rolls thunder like dice?

    April 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm

  37. 26)
    Lightning wakes the hawk and crow
    Reaper and black scavenger

    April 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm

  38. Aw, can we keep going even if it’s the next day? I so enjoyed this. But maybe Jason’s is a good verse to end on. I’ve put the whole thing together at my blog if anyone wants to see it:


    April 25, 2011 at 3:13 am

  39. So far behind – hate long weekends with family…


    April 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

  40. Pingback: Poem#24 – Jasmine Revolution « Black Satin

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