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Moira Richards

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Poetry contest

Further to our call for content for the Journal of Renga & Renku, we are delighted to announce this year’s renku contest which will be judged by well-known renku poet, Eiko Yachimoto. Details below:

Entry fee: None

Deadline: 1 October 2011


1. The winning poem will be published, together with a detailed critique, in the 2011 issue of the Journal of Renga & Renku. All entries will be considered as content for inclusion in the journal.

2. A small (and yet to be selected) prize will be sent by way of congratulation to the sabaki or one designated participant  of the winning poem.


1. Only renku in the shisan form are eligible for this contest

2. There is no limit on the number of entries you may send

3. Both solo and collaborative shisan are eligible

4. Previously published shisan are also eligible for the contest

5. Shisan that include verses written by the contest judge or editors of JRR, or  led by them, are NOT eligible for this contest

Entry procedure

The leader or sabaki of the poem is designated the contest entrant and should do the following:

1. Send a clean copy of the poem (stripped of initials, schema notes, renju’s names etc.) as a Word (or RTF) document attachment to (RengaRenku AT gmail DOT com)

2. Mark the subject line: Shisan contest/name of poem/name of sabaki, e..g. Shisan contest/October’s Moon/Moira Richards

3. In the body of the email, paste the following text:

I hereby confirm that I have obtained consent from all of the participating poets to enter this poem in the 2011 JRR Renku Contest, and to offer it for publication by JRR

4. There is no need to list the names or number of poets who contributed to the poem. We’ll contact you later for this information if we decide to publish.

Judging criteria

The judge will look for:

1. evidence of appreciation of both the renku genre and its shisan form

2. successful employment of jo-ha-kyû movement

3. effective use  and variety in linking techniques

4. a rattling good poem

Contest judge

Eiko Yachimoto will judge this contest. Eiko has been a member of the Association for International Renku (AIR) for 15 years, and her experience and expertise in the realm of both Japanese and English-language renku is widely recognised. Eiko is editor of both Wind Arrow: renku anthology (1999) and of Wind Arrow 2: shisan anthology (2010)

Why a one-form renku contest?

Every JRR contest will feature a different form of the genre, in order to

a) promote appreciation of the distinctive features of the various forms of the genre and how they can be employed to different ends in the writing of poems and

b) encourage poets to explore more fully the possibilities of one form, and to appreciate what others do with it.

The Shisan

The Shisan adopts the jo-ha-kyu dynamic found in the Kasen. Despite its brevity it is formally divided into four sides. There is one season per side. Seasons follow in calendar order.

The poem typically has two spring, two autumn, one winter and one summer verse. The autumn verses are always grouped as a pair, spring likewise.

Moon and blossom normally appear in association with their traditional season – autumn and spring respectively. However moon may appear in association with any season, though not in association with a non-season verse. Likewise flower, any type of bloom, may replace blossom and appear in association with any season, though not in association with a non-season verse.

A grouped pair of love verses appears on side 2, 3 or 4.

—John Carley, Renku Reckoner

Want to learn more about renku and shisan?

1. Lots of great reading matter, including information about the shisan form, from John Carley here:

and excellent material from the late Bill Higginson here:

2. Lots of space to learn, write and meet other renku enthusiasts at The Renku Group here:

The editors
Journal of Renga & Renku

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