This is Renku Home


Haikai no renga, usually now called renku by the Japanese, is a style of linked poem that reached its height in the work of Bashô (surname Matsuo, 1644-1694) and his disciples. The tradition began almost a thousand years ago (some would say longer ago than that), and is very much alive today in Japanese, English, and other languages. Additional features will be added to this site every so often, so check back with us from time to time. Here are links to our current pages:

The Tokyo Declaration for Global Renku
This concise statement sums up the beliefs of the presenters and organizers of the Global Renku Symposium held at Kokushikan University, Tokyo, 7 October 2000.

In Memoriam Shinkû Fukuda
Master Shinkû Fukuda was a modest, unassuming giant among Japanese renku masters who were interested in spreading renku outside of Japan. This page is dedicated to his memory.

Sample Renku

Net Kasen Renku: Summer Haze. By William J. Higginson, Paul Terrance Conneally, and Peggy Willis Lyles. Composed over five months in 2000, this experimental 2-D renku demonstrates a new possibility in renku construction. Take a look and see what you think. (You'll probably want to look at this one with your browser set to full-screen.)

The Click of Mahjong Tiles: A Kasen Renku. By Carole MacRury, Gerald England, Norman Darlington, Hortensia Anderson, Eryu/Fûseki Susan Shand, John E. Carley, John W. Sexton, and William J. Higginson (leader). Composed online during February through May 2005 by members of the Haiku Talk e-list, "The Click of Mahjong Tiles" involved poets across the British Isles and North America. At the top of the page is a link to an annotated version, which gives background and includes comments identifying the seasonal and other topical aspects of each verse as well as the types of linking from one stanza to the next—a first for an online renku, so far as we know.

Typhoon Over: A Half-Kasen Renku. By Penny Harter, Tarô Miyashita (leader), Masa Yamada, Teina Asaka, and Mikiko Koga. This is one of a number of international renku completed at the World Haikai Fusion 2004 renkukai, held during the Master Bashô Festival, 10-12 October 2004, in Iga Ueno, Bashô's home town. At the top of the page there are links to the Japanese version and to an English annotated version. In this case, "international renku" means renku involving participants from two or more countries and writing in more than one language.

The Road to Basra: A Kasen Renku. This poem, the first full renku to appear on this site, involves ten participants from three countries in a thematic 36-stanza renku on the American and British war against Iraq conducted in the spring of 2003. (We had hoped for a more peaceful solution.) At the bottom of the page there is a link to a fully annotated version.

Resources for Renku Writers

The 500 Essential Season Words by Kenkichi Yamamoto, translated by Kris Young Kondo and William J. Higginson. A revised version of the season word guide used by Japanese and North American renku poets writing together during Renku North America in 1992. Includes English, romanized Japanese, and seasonal information.

The Traditional Seasons of Japanese Poetry by William J. Higginson is a table of the seasons as observed in haiku and linked poetry.

Link and Shift: A Practical Guide to Renku Composition by Tadashi Shôkan Kondô and William J. Higginson. The most thorough discussion of linking stanzas and creating variety by shifting stanza content in renku to appear in English. Includes translations of topics lists used by Japanese renku groups (see table of contents in the article).

NEW: Ideal Order of the Seasons in a Kasen Renku by William J. Higginson presents an ideal progression of the seasons and locations for love verses in a kasen (36-stanza) renku, as determined by comparing similar charts on these ideals from three different Japanese authorities. Also, the notes take up the range of variation within and from this model that may be very productive in renku composition.

Shorter Renku by William J. Higginson and Tadashi Kondô. This essay presents the basics of two shorter types of renku, the twenty-stanza nijûin and the twelve-stanza jûnicho.

Background and Teaching

A Personal Introduction to Renku: William J. Higginson's introduction to renku in Japan, and his suggestions for understanding the overall flow of a renku.

Bashô-Style Linked Poems for Kids by William J. Higginson. An article that demonstrates teaching the main aspects of Bashô-style renku to elementary school students, rich with examples.

"Renga" and "Renku" by William J. Higginson discusses the meanings of these two words in Japanese and English.

What Is "Linked Poetry"? by William J. Higginson gives a brief overview of three types of Japanese-style "linked poetry" that have become popular worldwide: renga, renku, and renshi.

A Renku Bibliography with comments by William J. Higginson.

Authors' Biographies: Biographical notes on the authors of works included on this web site.


Tables illustrating guidelines for seasonal progression in traditional kasen (36-stanza) and kocho (24-stanza) renku.

Premiere examples of renku in various lengths and forms.

Your request! Let me know what you would like to see added to this site. E-mail Bill Higginson at wordfield-at-att-dot-net.

Additional links to linked-poetry web pages.

The interview with William J. Higginson.

You may also be interested in Higginson's bibliography of books on tanka.

Teachers should know the publications of Teachers & Writers Collaborative.

To comment on this site, suggest additions, or share your experience of writing renku, you are welcome to contact Bill Higginson at: wordfield-at-att-dot-net.

First posted 30 June 2000; last updated 18 November 2007.
Copyright © 2000–2007 by William J. Higginson. All rights reserved.