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The Renku Sessions: Invitation For Hokku

Haiku Happenings #9: THF’s new renku session begins! Lorin Ford leads. Hat tip to Australian Haiku Society.

Source: The Renku Sessions: Invitation For Hokku

Welcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Seventh Renku Session.

I’m Lorin Ford.

Thanks to John Stevenson’s initiative of giving participants the chance of selecting the next verse after an accepted verse of our own in the Kasen renku, ‘New Calendar’, I’m now your very wet-behind-the-ears sabaki for The Haiku Foundation’s seventh renku.

On sabaki, I quote John Carley:

“The word sabaki means handler or guide.  . . . It is pure chance that the German word Führer also translates as guide.” (Renku Reckoner)

I enjoy participating in THF renku and hope to continue, so I’m willing to take a turn at giving the sabaki role a go. With a little help from my friends. And on the understanding that there’s no death penalty involved for failed sabaki.



For those new to renku, I recommend John Carley’s ‘Introduction to Renku’.

General renku resources such as ‘The 500 Essential Japanese Season Words’ and more can be found at Renku Home.

All completed THF renku are archived here.

Please join me in the making of a Jûnicho renku and in making the experience an enjoyable one for all involved.

Jûnicho Renku

The Jûnicho is a 12 verse, single page renku. Like all renku, it begins with a hokku (first verse) and a wakiku (2nd verse) and ends with an ageku (culminating verse). Seasonal verses, non-seasonal verses and love verses are included. The moon makes an appearance, though not necessarily in autumn. A plant in bloom also features, though not necessarily a blossom.

Sandra Simpson, leader of the previous THF Jûnicho, has written an extensive ‘Introduction to Jûnicho’ that is well worth reading.

John Carley raises the question of whether the flexibility of the Jûnicho, in comparison with longer renku which have clearly defined, traditional, jo-ha-kyu movements, is easier or more difficult for beginners (that means beginner sabaki as well as participants).

“Naturally,” he concludes, “the default response of all free thinkers is to heartily proclaim Easier! But those of us who still salivate when a certain bell rings know that people sometimes feel more safe with boundaries.” (Renku Reckoner)

He has a good point. I think we should be safe enough if we follow one of John Carley’s schemas for this Jûnicho.  I’ll post the full schema next week.

Call for Hokku

The hokku (first verse):

  • is a 3-line verse with a clear cut, like a 3-line haiku.
  • can be read as an implied greeting or reference to the gathered company and gives a sense of place.
  • is a season verse, traditionally set in the current season

. . . but what is the current season?  My summer is someone else’s winter. Instead of tossing a coin, I checked the previous Jûnicho , which has a summer hokku, then checked John Carley’s various schema possibilities and simply made the decision: 

  • We begin with a winter moon hokku.
  • Please use the Comments box below this post to submit up to 3 of your own freshly written (unpublished!) ‘winter moon’ hokku for consideration. (nb. Try to evoke winter rather than saying it outright . . . although there is no ban on saying ‘winter’ and your brilliant hokku with ‘winter’ in it might just hit the spot, a grand parade of hokku all with “winter moon” stated would lack variety.)


Please post your submissions before midnight Monday 15th January, Eastern USA time. (New York time)That’s the deadline. I find the World Clock handy.

The selected hokku and instructions for verse 2, the wakiku, will be posted next Thursday morning – January 18th, New York time.


I look forward to reading all of your hokku and wish everyone happy and inspired writing.

– Lorin


Categories: haiku community

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