Issa’s Snail is a collaborative poetry site open to those interested in the composition of renku (or renga) – which is, of course, linked verse by multiple authors. April 2011 will mark the beginning of our 3rd year as a group.

The Snail has so far completed around eight renku, among them Junicho, Tripharshva, Kasen and John Carley’s Yotsumono Renku. We’ve had such sabaki as the brilliant Queensland poet, editor and publisher Graham Nunn and the supremely knowledgeable John Carley and most recently Eiko Yachimoto, who led us in the first English-language Koyomi.

To get involved, browse through some of the completed renku and look back over the Drafts and Discussions, where you will see how we work, and try your hand at something from the Exercises page then put your hand up when we open a renku!

If you’re  interested in helping out with the admin and moderation, e-mail   mountain0ash[at]gmail.com   and we can talk about adding you as an administrator

Ashley Capes

And a big thank you to Keiji and David at Cordite, for directly inspiring this group with a fantastic renga


I strongly recommend visiting Cordite to read Keiji’s excellent notes on renga, they are far better than I could ever do and are not just useful if you want to contribute, but are fascinating of themselves



About ashleycapes

Ashley is an Australian poet, novelist and teacher. He's currently running a casual review blog called "The Review Heap" focusing on anime and animation. He is the author of half a dozen poetry collections and a few novels, some published traditionally and some self-published. He also occasionally publishes other folks too.
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9 Responses to Welcome

  1. Dear Ashley,

    Well, look at you!
    Another renga group-how many do you think there are, live, in progress, so to speak, at this moment in the ‘blogosphere?
    I didn’t even stop to check your log-this is bloody marvelous! I think we’ve met, however informally, at the Island; ‘Godzilla joins the queue’ as ‘the butterfly rests her sails’-pardon my paraphrase.
    Say, you’ll have to stop by for the moon viewing party this week-click on the red ‘bandit’-a notification will be posted this evening. Check the links to our recent kasen and rengay, etc.
    I’ll poke around a bit and write back.



    • ashleycapes says:

      Hi Willie! Yes, we have almost met! I’m glad you found this blog (and I think you’re right, there must be dozens of em out there)
      I thought I’d try and have this site kick off a bit when the Island renga closes, so we’ll have more action here then, I think, once I post
      a message at Cordite, letting everyone know about this follow-on!

  2. Hello again Ash’,

    So you folks are mostly from Austrailia?
    This web business never ceases to astound an old dog like me…
    Actually, I haven’t seen that many renku sites-there’s ‘green tea’ I started in February this year (see the link at the “society’), then I only just discovered the “Island” last week.
    I enjoyed your input there, so naturally I clicked on your name and lo and behold!
    Susumu sensei wrote in an essay that to understand haiku
    one should practice renku-I think I’m beginning to understand now.
    Let me know if you need help here-I’m certainly not qualified as a sabaki at this stage, but perhaps I could carry water for tea or something?
    Best not to rush in, Ashley; surely someone better qualified will turn up.


  3. ashleycapes says:

    Yeah, heaps of Aussies, though a few from US and New Zealand, and I’m pretty sure Russua, Romania and a few other places I bet I’ve missed!

    I’ll go and visit Green Tea soon – sounds like it would be great for inspiration, and thanks too for the feedback, great to hear you liked the ku I submitted!

    Yes! Participating in the Renku at the Island has really shown me how powerfully social haiku can be! I think it’s improved my work too – it’s so great that I don’t want it to stop – hence this place!

    Thank you, Willie, that would be great, any and all help, even if it is just tea, would be much appreaciated. I think you’re right – there are a few names which I hope come across and help out here, it may even be possible to construct a renku with several moderators conferring – lots of work however… but worth more thinking about I feel


  4. lorin says:

    Good on you for beginning, Ashley! At present, I’m not sure how or what to contribute. I do think you need to set up some sort of information, as Keiji did…some sort of guidelines. It’s ok to say ‘Kasen renga’, but there are so many interpretations of that and if you are the ‘renga master’ [the one doing the choosing] some information about what you’re looking for would be useful.


  5. ashleycapes says:

    My pleasure, Lorin! Yes, I agree, I’d love to have more info up on the site and would love any help you have in mind?

    For now, you can add to the current renku by going to ‘drafts & discussions’ page and posting a comment there (kinda like at Cordite)

    So, for now it’s fairly open – just kasen to mean 36 (not using a seasonal overview, just to get a feel for the whole process, which is new to me, as I’m trying to lead/contribute/run the site)

    But! If you like, I could add you as a moderator and you could take over as master – because I’m not totally confident there. I’ve also considered asking Graham Nunn or even Keiji, but I tink Keiji might want to rest a bit?

    So, I’m hoping the first renku to be fairly informal. However, if I do carry on as ‘master’ as it were, I’ll definitely take suggestions and augment the guidelines (which are at the moment, pretty short)



  6. ashleycapes says:

    Actually, just updated ’em now, hope that makes a diference? Please let me know if I ought to adjust other things? 🙂

  7. Hi Ashley
    This site is great. I’ve been exploring the past renku over the last month or so. This is my first reading of renku and it is great to read through the process and creation of it. I’m loving it. Always learning more about these incredible Japanese forms. Cheers


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