This page presents tan-renga, renku, and other collaborations that I’ve written with many different poets. For additional collaborations, please also see the Rengay, Haiga, and the Twelve Weathergrams pages. See also my www.rengay.com website. For more detailed definitions of forms, see Notes on Japanese Forms.
In English, a tan-renga (短連歌) is most often a single three-line haiku followed by a single two-line capping verse, together making a sort of tanka (“tanka” means “short song” and “tan-renga” means, very loosely, a “short collaborative verse”). For more information, see “An Introduction to Tan-Renga.”
A renku (連句), in English, typically alternates three-line and two-line verses by two or more poets. A kasen renku has thirty-six verses. Renku has many other forms of varying lengths (as short as 12 verses, and as long as 100 and even 1,000 verses), most of which have prescribed positions for flower and moon verses, and other tonal, seasonal, and structural requirements. Each verse in a renku links to the previous verse yet also shifts away as the renku seeks to taste all of life (indeed, a great slogan for a renku T-shirt would be “Shift happens”). “Renku” is the modern term for “renga” (連歌), but the two forms are also distinct, with renga exhibiting greater formality. In Japan, renga or renku composition sessions were primarily social events, ones that Japanese poet and literary critic Makoto Ōoka has called “banquets” of poetry. See also “Renga Roots: Haiku Before Haiku,” my review of an informative book by Steven D. Carter.
For more information about renga and renku, I recommend visiting William J. Higginson’s Renku Home, John Carley’s Renku Reckoner, and Norman Darlington and Moira Richards’ Journal of Renga & Renku (see additional links below).
If you have any comments or questions on these forms or the following collaborations, please contact Michael Dylan Welch.