Writing Prompt Wednesday: Renku

Poetry editor Adele Williams wrote this week’s writing prompt, and poetry reader Sarah Hansen wrote the sample response.

Writing prompt: Traditionally, renku writing was a group activity, similar to exquisite corpse. It pre-dates the haiku form. (Haikus were actually derived from renkus.) Renkus are made of tercets (the first and third line each being five syllables and the second line being seven syllables). I would suggest writing at least 8 stanzas.

The goal is to create verse linked by sounds, image, colors, concept, language, or feel. I personally like linking my stanzas by image. The goal is to really build momentum throughout the course of the poem and to make giant, but connected, leaps between the stanzas. My poems are less logical and more fantastical, typically.


The Colony


Sweater made of moths,

fluttering, devouring.

Wingbeats of panic.


Imagine a place

far from here. Trees laced with fur,

bark like an elk’s skin,


soft as an earlobe.

Your brain will vibrate with bees,

imagine a queen


issuing orders.

Your fingernails are dying,

dip them in your tea,


they dissolve like ink,

like powder on a moth’s wing.

You will not need them.


At night, the forest

whimpers, something has eaten

the breadcrumbs, someone


is lost. Pull the queen

from your ear. Listen for the

hum. Sounds like fear, like


a windowless room.

The mornings grind you to dust,

sweep up your footprints.


Imagine a compound

eye dancing, shivering with

silver fury. Run.



Sarah Hansen is a first year poet at Virginia Tech. She reads poetry for the minnesota review.

Adele Williams is a first year poet at Virginia Tech. She is the poetry editor for the minnesota review.








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