Someone wrote that "poetry is the use of language with the most possibilities". Renga poems originated in Asia, and they evolved from short Japanese poems called tanka. The tanka poem is a set of three lines followed by a set of two lines. The first three lines follow a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, while the second set of lines follow a 5-7 or a 7-7 syllable pattern. A renga poem is a series of linked tanka poems (I promise, this isn't that confusing). Originally, poets would gather after tanka contests and link poems in order to create renga pieces. Renga poems have limitless creative possibilities.

In this assignment, you alone or you and one or two partners are going to create a renga poem commenting on the life of a grunt in Vietnam. Your poem should be made up of at least four stanzas per person in your group, and you should follow the rules of renga listed below.
  • alternate your stanzas - three lines, two lines, three lines, two lines
  • start your opening three-line stanza to create an image that suggests the mood of the piece
  • pepper you poem with terms and images from the "A Grunt's War" reading and the battle activity - but not too much
  • link each stanza with the preceding one by including similar images, pacing and sensitivity
  • the last stanza should sound like a fitting ending or conclusion
  • include an image or two to help convey your overall message or theme

Renga poems are not necessarily stories. To create one the "right" way, you should have one person write two stanzas, then the next person follows with two more stanzas. The usual length of a renga poem was 100 lines, but some were actually written over 1000 lines long!

This isn't meant to cause headaches. Rather, my goal is for you to creatively process and describe the life of a soldier in Vietnam. Please create this as a wiki entry on your Unit 8 wiki. If you work with someone else, invite them to your wiki, and they can either link to the same one or cut and paste onto their own wiki page. If you work with partners, please put all names (first names only) on the poem.

Check out an example poem