Renga is a classical Japanese form, where a group of people come together to write a sequence of short verses according to a particular schema. The first verse is always set in the season it is being written in and the last in spring. Read more. Here are a couple of examples from Garden Station, Langley and the Queen’s Hall, Hexham:


The ewe licks
strings of mucous
from eight quivering legs

bubble wrap round the camellia
protection against the frost

frogspawn squirms
in silver orbs
hundred upon thousands

water flows past the place
where people talk about nothing

sunshine evaporates
a year of excuses –
the bike in the shed

after being on the waltzer too long
Tiger Watson was sick in the grass

long car journeys
playing I-spy –

everyone gathered for the christening
she’s in our family now

sharing a bath
we flood
the pantry

when we woke next morning
the wind had changed direction

what’s the point
of sweeping leaves
paving stones exposed?

my father collected jars
for pickled onions and homemade jam

day and night in equal measure
tides swing high and low
birds fly south

it’s now you remember
that you’ve lost the key

Vick’s Vapour Rub –
the only time
her mother touched her

one limp snowflake mitten
hangs on the wall

opening the book
with creamy pages
and a red leather cover

here it comes again
accounts and antihistamines

he’s pricking out
clown-faced pansies
to laugh in a bucket

jumpers moved
to the bottom of the wardrobe.

A nijuin renga in spring at the Garden Station, Langley
29th March, 2007

Marjorie Anderson
Linda France (Master)
Brenda Johnson
Liz Kirsopp
Steve Nash
Alex Reed
Jan Reed
Eileen Ridley


In the morning pond
the almost tadpoles
stretch their tails

the washing line is put out
for the first clean air

wrapped up in white fleece
the basil seedlings
in the chilly night

waking first I watch you sleep
shadows rest

warm light
yellow kitchen
girls laughing

the way elderflower champagne
tastes of weddings, petal fall

wheels on gravel
door slamming
he’s home again

the minister’s mobile goes off
as we stand round the grave

they are the same
nearly – old news
all over the floor

taking in the moving trees
moving people are taken in

facing south
through a green window
piano notes rise

the dull shot beat
of wings leaving water

sky melter
cloud clutcher
big harvest beam

smell of cupboards
full of anoraks

on just this day
inside Maes Howe
solstice stone lit up

it isn’t the worst
only unpopular, misunderstood

sent to the corner
but she thinks
the pointy hat is great

I stand still
to notice the growing

look there
he cried
the thingummybobs are out

finger puppet cockerels
from last winter’s gloves

A nijuin renga in spring at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham
22nd April, 2006

Christina Bain
Sue Blennerhassett
Holly Clay (host)
Bernadette Cowen
Peter Cowen
Margo Dowdeswell
Alec Finlay
Linda France (master)
Mary Gibson
Irene Leake
Rosalind Normandale
Harriet Plewis
Alex Reed
Jan Reed
Clara May Warden

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