Casting Bricks – Renga Challenge Overview

Hi everyone, this page is meant to be a Resource/Home page for Collaberative Renga in Jilly’s Casting Bricks Poetry Challenge.

For this Challenge, the idea is to write Renga together. Renga is a traditional Japanese poetry form (it is where Haiku orignally comes from), but at its most basic it is simply writers taking turns and writing a poem together.

We’ve done a few of these, and the results have been great.  More importantly, it is a huge amount of fun.  The poem takes wonderful twists and turns as the writers co-create.  Some examples are below — read the final poem first, and then all the comments so you can see how interesting the interactions can be.


Getting Started:

“Start” a Renga with a post for the challenge, and drop its link into Jilly’s Mr. Linky. Put the word “Renga Challege” after your name, such as “Qbit Renga Challenge”.

If people want to join in the fun, they sign up in the comments on the challenge post.  Then the author can “launch” the working Renga with a new post.  Everyone then enters their next lines in the comments of that post.  The person who started the post can move lines up to the top as things are completed.  With more than two writers coordination can be complicated, but all part of the fun.

In the top of the challenge post, put in your prompt or theme if you have one.  Then set out how strict the form will be (or not), and whether you want an open-ended free-for-all, or if you want to try and write something thematic/coherent.  Also a target number of lines or stanzas if desired, and how many participants you may want at max. Feel free to link to this page if you want others to have some reference.


There is a good definition of Renga at, good examples at The Wordshop, and more than you ever wanted to know about it from Jane Reichhold’s extensive, lifelong exploration of Haiku and related forms: Here and here.

I learned a great deal from reading Jane’s work, and recommend it if you are interested. Certainly there are very strict, traditional forms of Renga, but there are also plenty of interesting variations where the forms are minimal, or even non-existent. Jane herself published many Renga that were just two poets alternating single, free-form lines.

So when you start your Renga, decide how strict or loose you want to be. For the most strict definitions (syllable counts, season words etc.), there are line-by-line specifications you can follow if you search around Jane’s pages.

The other main thing I learned was that Renga tend to unfold in two ways: sometimes the writers make an attempt at cohesion, or the Renga may evolve like an ever-expanding kalaidescope. Jane suggests that you might want to decide that beforehand. Best also to set a target length as well if you are attempting something you want to come to conclusion.



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