milky way

Linked Forms

In linked verse, the sequence is not meant to progress in a linear, logical narrative, nor as a completely disjointed sequence of independent verses, but to constantly put a new spin on what has come before. It is a protean poetry that must be held tightly until its tale is fully told, demanding the reader abandon attachments to what has come before and follow the meandering journey. This sense of shifting, evanescent vignettes that appear only to drift away in a world of imagination provides a unique experience among the world's poetic forms, and gives this genre its particular savor. Linked verse rewards careful reading and rereading, and baffles those who try to charge through even a short sequence one unbroken breath. As a collaborative form, all the participating poets are of one mind, and the chimeric work is a result of the dance and play of image and idea, growing organically as a result of the poets' call and response. 

In linked verse, all the poets are one, and every poet is a multitude; the sequence is not bound by time, place or persona, but free to explore the universe in its entirety. The ideas are inchoate, fragmentary, and invite the reader to complete them with imaginative readings and associations, the space between verses becomes a world which the reader enters and completes, becoming the final and most crucial collaborator and poet. We are looking for linked verse that ties to traditional Japanese renga and haikai/renku through “fragrance,” absorbing some of the spirit and rhythm, the cadence and flow of the dance, but also allowing the form to become something for our own time and place, unrestricted by formal rules and regulations or the values and aesthetics of another era, allowing it to organically evolve into whatever the poem needs to be in the moment of creation. We seek collaborative and solo works that reflect an approach that stresses freedom and exploration while retaining an imagistic rhythm of "link and shift", with hints of haikai humor and a lingering essence of Japanese aesthetics. 

We value command of and respect to renku conventions, but do not require strict formality. Traditional renku forms, rengay, and any novel approaches to linked verse will all be considered. Poetry may be solo or collaborative.


The rensaku, or sequence, has precedence in both the haiku and tanka traditions. Sequences often develop a single theme over a series of independent short verses, and can develop an episodic narrative or can simply read as variations on a single theme. We consider all haiku, tanka, and senryū sequences, looking for sequences of short poems that evolve with careful pacing, engaging development of imagery and theme, and that are comprised of high quality individual and independent verses that flow naturally from ku to ku or stanza to stanza. 

Contrapuntal Poetry

Finally, contrapuntal poetry is a word we use to describe poetry that unfolds in several different threads or voices simultaneously, interweaving parallel narratives and contrasting streams of thought. Contrapuntal poetry contains multiple voices and a sense of musical interplay. Whether this is alternating call and response, or interruptive harmonizations of several streams of thought, contrapuntal poetry takes multiple voices and blends them together in such a way that the original voices remain coherent, and yet when all of the voices are taken as a whole, another layer of meaning emerges. We are looking for parallel haiku, collaborative haiku or parallels, any extension of the short poem that involves an interplay of separate voices that come together to create a larger whole woven of independent voices like the fugues and inventions of Bach. We will be looking at the quality of the individual voices, the interplay of the poly-vocal texture, and the greater meaning as a whole, with attention to pacing and overall evolution of the form. 


Clayton Beach
Editor, Linked Forms 

Please submit up to 5 sequences/poems in the body of an email to the editor
with "UtB Submission - Linked Forms" for the email subject.