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 and Haiga pages. 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 was primarily a social event, one that Japanese poet and literary critic Makoto Ōoka has called “banquets” of poetry.
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.
Bikers Ascend with Jeanne Emrich (tan-renga with haiga)
Almond Tea kasen renku with Alexis Rotella, Pat Shelley, and Florence Miller
Between Night Hills one-liner kasen renku with Tanya McDonald
By the Gazebo shisan renku led by Tadashi Kondō
Crows Return kasen renku led by Marshall Hryciuk
A Cup of Snow rokku renku by Hortensia Anderson, John Carley, Carole MacRury, Alan Summers, and Michael Dylan Welch
A Gnat in Amber kasen renku with Paul O. Williams
Gold Leaf kasen renku led by Marshall Hryciuk
one by one linked verse with anne mckay
Leading the Ferry kasen renku with Alice Frampton
Pine Needle kasen renku led by Marshall Hryciuk
Rain at Dawn kasen renku coordinated by Hal Roth
Racha Renku shisan renku with six poets
Spiders kasen renku with Elizabeth St Jacques
Swaying kasen renku led by Marshall Hryciuk
Swirling Leaves kasen renku with Francine Porad
Tulips Flame shisan renku with Amelia Fielden, Marg Sutton, Naomi Beth Wakan, and Zulis Yalte
Windswept Walk kasen renku (by 36 different poets, travelling 32,241 miles)
Young Leaves kasen renku (by 36 different poets, travelling 49,114 miles)
Fine Dining (four collaborative tanka)
Shake the Shaker Till We All Lie Down (a poem for three voices, with photos)
Silver Notes (a collaboration with art at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, with photos)
So Much Rain (four collaborative tanka)
Renku Home — William J. Higginson
Introduction to Renku — John Carley
Renku Reckoner — John Carley
Journal of Renga & Renku — Norman Darlington and Moira Richards
The Renku Verse Form — J. Zimmerman