A Renga is shared writing, a collective creative experience open to all. It originated in Japan over one thousand years ago.

It is a poem made up of short linked verses written by a group of people. Rather than telling a story in a traditional way, a renga aims to create a scattering of images with different moods and tones – a wide-ranging portrait of contemporary life and our relationship with the natural world. In 2016, we wrote a twelve-verse Shisan renga written one verse at a time over the course of an afternoon.

We created a schema to guide us, giving themes for each verse. The verses are alternatively two line and three lines long and are usually written in the present tense.

Renga verses tend to spring from the immediacy of sensation and perception rather than containing overt metaphors or lengthy descriptions.

At the beginning of each round the master poet proposed the theme for that verse. Participants then had 10 minutes or so to come up with a verse responding to the theme or could choose to disregard the theme altogether!

The verses were read out and the master poet, often alongside the other participants, chose the verse that fitted best with what has gone before and moved the poem on to a new place.  There was time for discussion, laughter and tea!

Copyright is shared by the contributors & Fruit Routes.

Afterwards, there was a group reading of the poem with wild tea & scones.

The schema was created by Paul Conneally with Anne-Marie Culhane.  The host poets were Kerry Featherstone, Lecturer in Creative Writing, Loughborough University and Paul Conneally.

Fruit Routes Renga Schema – A Shisan Renga

  1. Summer
  2. Non Seasonal
  3. Non Seasonal
  4. Autumn Moon
  5. Autumn +
  6. Non Seasonal

Break for a tea

  1. Winter
  2. Non Seasonal (love)
  3. Non Seasonal +
  4. Spring
  5. Spring (blossom)
  6. Non Seasonal

The Poem

A Gang of Lambs

Is it work, soft in

the sunshine? Even the grass

has been cut for us

a figure in the distance

carrying yellow

the luminous top

of a girl who walks and shares

the light of the day

there are more moons out there

than many care to see

reaching over the wall

Annie Elizabeth her limbs

spotted with lichen

a wood turner

shopping for perfume

the first frost

sees off the last

of dad’s dahlias

bees taking turns

to keep the hive warm

between footrise

and footfall

everything changes

a gang of lambs stray

on Hope Forest Moor

moving fast

cherry blossom petals

on a car windscreen

the boy heads home

a smile on his face

Participants

Ami
Jack
John Knight
Steve King
Alison Lloyd
Zoe Petersen
Fanny Naccache
Kadhijeto Ahmed
Adit Patel
Estelle Kugler
Kay D Parker
Cecilia Walanga
Anne Kristin
Ruth Sinclair
Kieran Bjergstrom
Suella Postles
Jo Shields
Little Onion
Anne-­Marie Culhane
Kerry Featherstone
Wenjun Tang
Phyllis Echo
Paulo Milazzo
Mahek Mehta
Michelle Richey
Abigail Monger