Tag Archives: renga

Renga Party!

On Saturday night, myself and 9 others (including a.rawlings via skype… ah, the marvels of the internet) gathered at the home of local poet, Chris Lynch for a good old fashioned renga party… there was wine, there was bottomless tea, there was an array of tastiness, there was conversation and laughter and at the centre of it all two renga – second bottle and autumn moon – were composed. It was all done in the true spirit of this 800 year old form… each poet spontaneously riffing off the verse that came before them while not taking themselves too seriously.

Each of the renga are are 36 links in length, like the favoured kasen form, however, it was decided by Chris and I prior to the party that we would remove all of the imposed themes of a true kasen to allow each poet to leap boldly and freely into the poem. Both of the renga as a result have a really unique energy and are bursting with a freeness I have not encountered often in the form. Chris will be posting both of the renga in full over at his site, The City Hermit, but until that time, here’s a favourite section of mine (and a few others who were there).

from the renga, Second Bottle

Written 6 April 2013 by/between Graham Nunn, Lee-Anne Davie, John Koenig, Fern Thompsett, Rachael Briggs, Chris Lynch, John Wainwright, Cindy Keong, Andrew Phillips, Chloë Callistemon, and a.rawlings.


the captain points
south, pack ice


breath whitens
we enter the shadows
of the gorge


beneath us
the pounding waterfall


a group of ruffian boys
emerge glittering wet
hair parted down the middle


memories are lost here
or only live until the skin dries


spring thaw
we watch our snow angels


waking in white sheets
this beautiful stranger


to look upwards, even
if only for the smell
of cold air


I taste bacon and coffee
from across the room


falling through cream
the dark earth reveals


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HENKŌ, the ManyWay Renga wants your words

I have been loving the leap and link of our Summer Renga, The Crow (w/ Ashley Martin and Cindy Keong), so was very excited when I cam across HENKŌ, the new project from Canadian poet, Sachiko Murakami.

Henko Renga

HENKŌ extends the renga to its 21st Century possibilities, with the help of Starkaður Barkarson, by allowing participants to respond to any link in the poem. This branching out allows there to be as many stanzas as there are willing poets, so if you want to be part of something truly innovative, I encourage you to visit HENKŌ, A Powell St. ManyWay Renga and add a branch of your very own…

My branch was written in response to:

Dawn on Saturday:
Still park, empty diamond –
Light shifts – a shadow

(opening link from Henko)


reappearing beyond reach
the clouds of early summer



I’ve said it before… but, collaboration is the way!



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Ginko through the Seasons in 2013

To celebrate the four seasons of 2013, I will be leading a ginko (haiku walk) at four exciting locations Poet’s Rock (Karawatha Forest), Boondall Wetlands, JC Slaughter Falls and Venman Bushland.

Karawatha Forest

Masaoka Shiki, one of the four pillars of haiku (along with Basho, Buson & Issa), believed that haiku poets should practice shasei – sketching from life – in order to heighten their powers of observation. A traditional way of developing these powers and opening yourself up to the everyday magic that awaits, is to participate in a ginko.

On a ginko, participants are encouraged to jot down notes about what they can see, hear, smell, touch and taste as well as making notes on other thoughts and feelings that may arise during the walk. At the conclusion of the walk, participants then share their notes and spend time writing and work shopping their haiku.

To coincide with each ginko, a group renga (36 linked verse) will also be written online, using one of the haiku written during the ginko as the hokku (opening poem).

So, if you want to develop your haiku-eye and revel in the subtle seasonal changes, book yourself in to enjoy this unique experience. Each ginko is strictly limited to 8 participants. Costs are $25 for one ginko/renga or $80 to participate in all four.

Places in the series will fill quickly, so to book a spot visit: http://www.queenslandpoetryfestival.info/program/ginko-w-graham-nunn/


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Autumn Sunset (part II): an Autumn Kasen Renga

turn of the tide
the mainsail catches
a fresh wind                                               (ld)

the tugboat pulls its own weight        (jh)

your iridescence
lures me
ephemera                                                    ( tm)

flashes of noon light in the forest
last of the plum blossoms                     (vp)

summer heat
so brittle
the fresh cut flower                                  (jk)

distant thunder
the hopeful croak of a frog                     (ck)

shortest night
hot in the storm
of your eyes                                                 (jw)

from beneath the rubble
the bloom of forget-me-nots                 (ld)

that memory of you
reading me to sleep                                    (jh)

ghost gum and evening star
alone in my back yard                              ( tm)

insects rise up
from the pasture
autumn moon                                               (vp)

the gleam
of a magpie’s beak                                        (jk)

sports carnival
war cries
high as an autumn sky                                (jk)

wrapped in your arms
the air hangs on every breath                 (ck)

from our tree
gather fruit                                                       (jw)

early sun                         
a lizard begins its thaw                                (ld)

as the season closes
azaleas open
white, pink, red                                                (jh)

moving forward
you light each lantern from the last       ( tm)


Started: April 3, 2011
Finished: May 24, 2011

Written between: Cindy Keong, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Jonathan Hadwen, Trudie Murrell, Vuong Pham & John Koenig

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Autumn Sunset (an Autumn Kasen Renga)

As part of the recent Ginko Series I ran for QLD Writers Centre, I took on the role of sabaki for the group as they took on the job or writing an Autumn Kasen Renga. I am absolutely thrilled with the result and am very proud to share with you the first half of their renga, Autumn Sunset. I will post the second half tomorrow. Please enjoy!

Started: April 3, 2011
Finished: May 24, 2011

Written between: Cindy Keong, John Wainwright, Lee-Anne Davie, Jonathan Hadwen, Trudie Murrell, Vuong Pham & John Koenig

Autumn Sunset

autumn sunset
the glow of one
ripe cherry                                                       (ck)

ANZAC moon chills
the airman before dawn                              (jw)

fly over
swallows leave the sky
to the clouds                                                     (ld)

the rain finds me
I let each drop strike home                        (jh)

sudden chill
winter coat smells
of last year’s mothballs                                ( tm)

mist creeps through
the pines at dusk                                             (vp)

lost again
in the darkness
a mosquito bites                                             (vp)

a searching mouth
tastes the salt on my lips                             (jk)

first light
the morning dissolves
with aspirin and tears                                   (ck)

the percolator warbles
up the coffee                                                     (jw)

your image
painted on canvas
the view that remains                                    (ld)

from the lookout
the seagull stares down the waves           (jh)

moon on the rise
in winter everything
seems closer                                                     ( tm)

dandelions frozen
wind I wish you luck                                     (vp)

first frost
sharpens the senses
fire wood to be cut                                         (jk)

footprints point north
across the paddock                                       (ck)

sun comes
two lilies
propose spring                                                (jw)

new season spawns
a mackerel sky                                                 (ld)


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Year of the Rabbit

The Winter Junicho I have been involved in is now finished. It is always a thrill to be involved in collaborative writing projects as they not only bring out the best in me, they also spark ideas for poems, I may not have otherwise written. So a huge thanks to Ashley, Valeria, Barbara, Joseph & Claire for their stunning verses and an extra special thanks to Ashley for his creative leadership of the project. The Junicho – Year of the Rabbit, is now up on the Issa’s Snail website.

And as I am gearing up for next weekend’s Ginko (haiku walk) and haiku workshop (which, by the way still has a few places left, so don’t be afraid to book!), here’s two new haiku to ponder.

                                   park bench
                                   looking away
                                   from the pigeons

                                                                                mother’s fingers
                                                                                at dusk – purpled
                                                                                by mulberries

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frost on hinges – a winter kasen renga

               by Ashley Capes & Graham Nunn


frost on hinges
by the letterbox
a thin shadow

every pine needle

the powerline
raven’s claws

your black skirt
drying in the wind

on the verandah
first wood-smoke
only the fire
warms his old hands

two moths
circle the lamp – fighting
or fucking or both

the click of a light switch
swallowed by black
in bed
my coffee and I

flipping through vinyl
ancora tu

old cat
watching the kite
chase its tail

wind flings leaves
into water

rising moon
a mango stain
on my t-shirt

cicada husk
grey in the moonlight

morning drizzle
the blonde’s
exposed roots

watering the pot plant
even the birds hushed

spring moon
each hibiscus flower
flooded by light

a gentle tread
grasshoppers scatter

on the hillside
a riot of flowers –
bee sting

young boy streaks
past the swing set

in the park
the ibis flees
echo of laughter

two sugar ants
share our blanket

on the swing set –
nosebleed spots

a red scarf slashed
across her throat

the white butterfly
folds its wings
I am very still

just the two of us
crushing dry herbs

lover’s quarrel
from the train yard

so much longing
in the owl’s voice

in the electrical storm
me and the moon
who is thinking of who?

gathering leaves
shaped like tear drops

one seat
between us
and not a word

the fence posts
make perfect bookends

leaning further
into dusk –
old poinciana

black against the sky
the farmer’s hoe

before sunrise
colour the fields

against the back step
boots covered in pollen


* for those of you who would like to find out more about renga, or even get invloved in writing one, head on over to Issa’s Snail and check out what is happening there.


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Haikunaut Island & Issa’s Snail

For those of you who may not have checked out the Haikunaut Island interactive renga over at Cordite, the 36th link has now been finalised and the renga is complete (and if you are not sure what a renga is they provide this great link to find out more).

There has been an amazing response to the renga with over 100o haiku/links submitted, so this Lost Shark feels pretty excited to have had one of his ‘ku selected.

My haiku:

                    morning meditation
                    a crow disrupts my shadow

was selected for link 34.

The Haikunaut Island Renga is definitely worth checking out and if it looks like something you would like to participate in, Ashley Capes has just started another interactive renga at his blog Issa’s Snail.

All are welcome to contribute over at Issa’s Snail, so hope to read many new ku from all of you over there. I will certainly be keeping a close eye on how it develops.


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heavy with fruit – a renga by Graham Nunn & Rowan Donovan

heavy with fruit
the mango tree
resists the wind

winter skin
flushed sun pink

tending the garden
more grey creeps
through her hair

fingers and thumbs
coax colours into season

leaves all raked
full moon
hangs in the branches

scent of autumn
goes up in smoke

gone to ground
evening wind
picks up a chill

looking for warmth
the old dog circles his bitch

one more turn
on the dance floor
he leads

opening the car door
together    they blush

around this time
hands on faces
glow in the dark

tonight’s sky
pale among the stars

pond’s surface
no trace
of winter moon

morning dew softens
prickle between my toes

needle pine
standing up to the sky
makes its point

close to silence –
the hum of flies

above the noise
spring bulbs burst
into colour

stretched across the sky
rainbow lorikeets

back and forth
toy kites
chase their tails

higher still
a cloud gets left behind

late afternoon
shadows move out
from the house

inside rooms
silhouettes where light has left them

evening swim
moonlight catches
her bikini line

whispered sweet nothings
turn up the heat

in the mirror
together –
she pulls him closer

seeing double
love’s true disguise

mid-life crisis
he scratches
an old itch

all this time
without a bite

waning moon
the mosquito finds
my ear

red at the edges –
autumn dawn

choosing its moment
one more leaf
takes the plunge

the empty cup fills
with morning

green tea
a tangible taste

my future lies
in the leaves

dust in the wind
no flowers
this spring

clean splashes on the windscreen
and that is all…

* poems in italics by Graham Nunn

‘heavy with fruit’ was first published in Yellow Moon

About renga

Renga is an ancient Japanese form of collaborative writing. Poets in pairs or small groups take turns composing alternating three-line and two-line stanzas. The popular form consists of 36 stanzas and is called a kasen. Centuries after its inception, the opening stanza gave rise to the much shorter haiku. To find out more about renga visit: http://www.ahapoetry.com/RENGA.HTM

They are a great way of sparking new writing.


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