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Renga Cycle 1

20th century Western literature familiarized us with a writing style known as ‘stream of consciousness.' In this genre, writers simply record their thoughts (or pretend to). Result: we read as if we were thinking. Seven centuries earlier, Japan began experimenting with a ‘call and response’ style of poetry, created and transcribed collectively by a group of poets. Typically, the Renga-Master kicks-off with a three-verse, 17-syllable Haiku. Then another poet adds either another Haiku or, more traditionally, a Tsukeku (two verses, seven syllables each), as a response.

If we credit the 20th century with the ‘stream of consciousness’ (Freud influenced) writing style, we must credit 14th century with a ‘stream of collective consciousness’ writing style (anticipating Jung).

The Renga format is not rigid. For example, a second Haiku could occur before the first response. This is what’s happening in the Renga below, kicking off ATM’s Japanese Poetry Slam.

Renga Cycle #1

Drip, drip goes the water

How I wish I could use it

To wash the world away.


One caw of a crow

Turns all of the fallen leaves

A deeper yellow.


(Please add your response in the comment box below.

It can either be a 17-syllable Haiku or a 14 syllable Tsukeku.)


David Cowles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Aletheia Today Magazine. He lives with his family in Massachusetts where he studies and writes about philosophy, science, theology, and scripture. He can be reached at

Renga Cycle 1

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