Renga is a traditional form of writing linked verse in a group, which originated in Japan. There are many variations on the form. In the nijuuin renga, the most common of them, a group of people will spend a day together to create twenty haiku-like verses of alternating three lines and two lines. There is a schema for each version, asking for verses set in a particular season, or on a particular topic like the moon or flowers. There are also longer forms, like the hyakuin renga, which asks for 100 verses to be written over 24 hours – non-stop! Participants may take a rest though, as long as there are always at least three people who keep on writing.

In writing a renga, the experience of a shared process of creativity and contemplation is considered as important as the poem that will have accrued at the end of it. Every person writes their own verse and then shares it. Before the meeting the group will have decided on a Master poet, whose task it is to choose the verse that will become part of the renga and move it on. They will also bring the first verse, the hokku, to open the renga. The dynamic of the renga is characterised by an awareness of ‘link and shift’. Each verse must have some connection with the preceding one but also depart from it, avoiding repeating a word or an idea. So the renga is carried forward, mirroring the flow of our lives, always changing, never still.

The rengas we have included on this website are various adaptations of the original forms. Some of them are genius loci rengas – a form developed by Linda France aiming to create a stronger feeling of coherence in the finished poem. Classical renga structures go through all seasons and the themes for the individual verses are not bound to the place of writing. In fact, diversity is encouraged. This helps to provide a very lively, stimulating atmosphere for the writers; however, readers who haven't been part of the writing process will often find it difficult to appreciate the finished product, as it tends to lack the inner coherence we usually expect from a poem. The genius loci renga follows a scheme that stays in the season in which it is composed and asks for verses that are in some way related to the place of writing.

The Dry Stone Walk was written over twelve days during a walk through the Mallorcan mountains. It tries to keep the basic renga rules but does not follow a scheme at all – instead the binding of the verses to the shared experience of the walk provides the structure. The Earth Will Have Taught Me is another 'free style' renga, not following any scheme. It could be called a 'correspondence renga', having been composed via email over a period of more than half a year. September is from ‘book of days’, a solo renga written by Linda, in which she composed one verse every day over the period of a whole year.

You can find out more about renga on Linda France's website or on