Japanese Poetry Patterns

Tan Renga

My Haiku
Haiku Definition
Mad Hatter Ku
Cathedral Haiku
Tanka Definition
Tan Renga
More Tan Renga
Renga Definition
Kasen Renga
Four Elements Renga

The World of Tan Renga
Tan renga looks like a tanka and works like a renga. In tanka, the image developed in (approximately) a 5-7-5 three-line verse is contrasted to or augmented by a related image in the capping 7-7 two-line conclusion. The resulting juxtaposition produces more meaning than either part could by itself.

In tanka, both sections are written by the same person. In tan renga, the sections are usually written by different people.

In that way,the form resembles renga. Over the centuries, poets found intricate and fascinating ways of making connections between the two parts. The chief enjoyment in a tan renga comes from watching sparks fly between the verses. Below, the material in parentheses identifies the writer of each verse.

around the pier
seagulls exchange pilings
we pause at chess

** Larry Gross
playing tag and leapfrog
the eight-week-old kittens
** Gail Teachworth

The link here, of course, involves similar motions taking place in each of three scenes, thereby drawing attention to similarities in very different life styles and even species: We all are very much the same.

Flying Geese

I gave the identical 3-line opening verse to several poets and asked them to write their 2-line capper. The name in parentheses identifies each responder.

the foursome at bridge
geese fly south

a rim of ice on the pond
oak leaves float on the water ** (Joyce Shriver)

the foursome at bridge
geese fly south
a splash on the river
circling ripples swirl ** (Donna Thomas)

the foursome at bridge
geese fly south

above the ocean's roar
a chopper heading north ** (Gail Teachworth)

the foursome at bridge
geese fly south
and one flies over
the Trump Tower ** (Kenneth C. Leibman)

the foursome at bridge
geese fly south
these arthritic limbs
yearn for warm gulf beaches ** (Lorraine Geiger)

Responses vary in degree of seriousness as well as tone and line length. Not all follow the 7-7 syllable suggestion. Some skip a line between the verses, some do not. Some are straight-forward responses or comparisons; some continue a previous thought. The intended connection is obvious in some, while others challenge our ingenuity. Such variety is a great part of the fun in tan renga, as it is in renga itself.

Created 060211
Updated 080927

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