Tan Renga – “boiled rice slop” – June 27, 2015

[…] “1694-summer. Basho uses less than elegant terms to describe both the rice dish and the man’s wife. Notice how the sense varies as the second line twists so that there are two meanings. This is what Basho considered “lightness” or karumi.” […]

meshi angu kaka ga chiso ya yu suzumi

boiled rice slop
his old lady fans the treat
with evening coolness

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Humour and lightness are particular to one’s culture.  If you’ve ever travelled you would have soon realized that what you might find humorous and indeed a light comment, goes over like a lead balloon … and you might just find yourself, mentally, scratching your head to figure out what everyone is laughing about when someone cracks a “joke”.  Here Basho shows us an aspect of lightness or karumi, 17th Japanese style!


boiled rice slop
his old lady fans the treat
with evening coolness

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold

making sweet confections
she presents a summer feast

downing warm sake
under June’s  shimmering  moon
topped with daifuku

his old lady’s rice slop
inspires happy renga

© G.s.k. ‘15


Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #91, Basho’s boiled rice slop

Has Spring Come – CDHK’s Tan Renga (Soliloquy no Renga) – May 2, 2015


Today we have the first day of spring in spite of the day.

has spring come
or the year gone away?
second last day

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

this cold misty morning
holds all its cold secrets

yet a blackbird sings
uplifting my heart in its wake
and spring seems near

cold raindrops fall lightly
the sky grey and heavy

there in the empty field
a tiny sunflower blooms
petals seeking the sun

muddy fields and cold wind blows
surely winter still reigns

the mud-snails roam
across the path at dawn
seeking shelter

through the clouds a ray of light
falls upon the mountain side

© G.s.k. ‘15

Inspired by Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Tan Renga

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Renga – March 28, 2015

wet grass

at the wagon’s approach,
out from the grass
flies the butterfly

© Shoha (Tr. R.H.Blyth)

Our haiku master today is Shoha (1727-1772) of whom I could find no information but … here is an interesting bit about the translator who’s name we’ve read many times beside the great master’s names:

Reginald Horace Blyth was born near London in 1898, the only child of working-class parents. By the start of World War I, he was eighteen and already an eccentric in his contemporaries’ eyes: he ate no meat, loved George Bernard Shaw, and became a conscientious objector to the war, for which he was jailed. After serving a three-year sentence of hard labour and fed up with the rigidity of Britain’s class system, he left his homeland for what he thought would be a life of wandering.

But after just a year of traveling, Blyth was smitten by Asia. He settled in Korea in the mid-1920s, and began teaching English at Seoul University. He returned to England briefly to complete a B.A. in English literature in order to further his Korean teaching career. Back in Seoul, Blyth met a monk from Kyoto’s Myoshin-ji temple, the traditional headquarters of the Rinzai Zen sect in Japan. The meeting was auspicious, inspiring Blyth to take up the study of Japanese and to begin Zen practice at the Seoul branch temple; within weeks, he had moved into the temple to become the disciple of the resident Zen master, Kayama Taigi.

In 1940, Blyth moved to Japan and remained there for the rest of his life, despite being interned as an enemy alien during World War II. He married a Japanese woman and supported their two daughters working as a teacher (he even tutored the Crown Prince of Japan) and began a prolific writing and translating career. For Blyth, almost anything could be interpreted as an example of Zen, including the Western literary canon. He expounded his theories in Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics (1942), Japanese Humour (1957), and the four-volume Haiku (1949-52), and through those books, spurring a generation of Westerners to investigate Zen and Japanese culture. Blyth died in 1964 of a brain tumour.

LINK to Biography of Blyth

Out of the Grass ….

at the wagon’s approach,
out from the grass
flies the butterfly

© Shoha

beads of water on the grass
now an abandoned palace

diamond brightness
the empress hid feasting
in the spring fields

© G.s.k. ‘15

Linked to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Tan Renga

What is Renga?

“One poet wrote a first verse of three lines in a five syllable-seven syllable-five syllable pattern [called a HOKKU], and the second poet completed the tanka with two seven-syllable lines…

A third poet writes another three lines, which, together with the previous couplet, make an entirely new poem. Then the next poet adds another couplet to make a third poem, which is completely independent of the first two. And so on. The seasons change, the subject changes, and, in the classical renga, the poem proceeds through a hundred verses.

Rules developed. The renga had to be written in a certain way. No story could be developed, the seasons had to keep changing, a traditional image of the autumn moon had to be introduced at least twice, images of spring flowers three times, and so on. The form became immensely popular among educated people at court and in the monasteries. Treatises were written on appropriate ways of making links, and anthologies of examples were published… And it began to spread, as a social activity, to cities and towns, and was taken up by merchants and farmers, some of whom were imitating the refinements of the court, some of whom were drawn to it from the learned traditions of the monastery.

These renga often used a more informal language, treated their subjects playfully, and were shorter, often thirty-six verses long. The 36-verse form was called a KASEN, and the style of the poetry was called HAIKAI NO RENGA.”

Source: The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa. Edited by Robert Hass. (c) 1994, Ecco Press.

Tan Renga with Ese, Jen and myself – REBLOG – March 16, 2015

Jen's Lightening

Jen’s Lightning


For Carpe Diem Tan Renga #77, our task was to build upon a very sensual haiku by Ese of Ese’s Voice.  After I’d added my 7-7 lines, Bastet and I decided to continue the poem into a renga.  Here is what we came up with – it seemed a shame to leave it in the comments section.  🙂

Due to WordPress formatting weirdness, Ese’s original is in black,Bastet’s portions are in blue, and mine are in green.   This probably should have been continued with one more 7/7 segment – but – it just felt *complete* – and I hope Bastet won’t mind if I cap this renga with a favorite piece of music.

stroked by the lightning
delicate peaks of sand dunes
– silence before the storm

in the oasis
a single tree shudders     

the wanderer
looks to the sky in hope
rain in the desert            

everywhere and nowhere
a roar of new life                  

the Tuareg
set up their evening camp
lightning flashed                     

gentle laughter at the fire
and teapot reflections              

hot sugary tea
the cup passes hand to hand
rice boils on the fire                 

the imprint of one thousand moons
blossoms over wet sand             

the desert rose
sparkles by the firelight
The Sahara weeps               

in her dark eyes
waves of laughter and song      

as she danced
the heaven touched the earth
desert men sigh  



This post is a reblog of Jen’s Blog it or Lose it! post lightning renga

Tan Renga – February 21, 2015


Bare branches touch
Over the lane where we walk,
Fingers entwined.

© Jackie Le Poidevin

young lovers meet in winter
under bare skeleton trees

each gust of wind
down the sunlit naked lane
invites cuddling

© G.s.k. ‘15

Our hokku master at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Tan Renga this week is Jackie Le Poidevin of HaikuBlog UK please drop by and read the lovely haiku she writes!