Adventure 300 ~ Learn The Rules Of Renga

365 Days Of AdventureFor today’s adventure, I set about learning the rules of renga, a Japanese form of collaborative linked-verse poetry. There are now 13 poets involved in The Big Renga Project , and I wanted to put some easy-to-follow guidelines together so that people could get to grips with the rules before the big “renga off” on the 1st December 😛 .

There are many versions of “the rules”. I plumped for a distillation of the traditional rules : I’ve based the rules for The Big Renga Project on Sonja Arntzen’s article (you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the article for the rules applying to renga).

I’ve spent 3 hours immersing myself in various forms of the rules today – and now it makes complete sense! I’ve adapted Sonja’s version of the rules slightly so that they work for our 25-stanza poem, and I’ve posted these rules into our group forum.

I can imagine if you haven’t seen rules like this before, you might not think that they’re that simple. That’s why I’ve written the rules well in advance of the start of  December –  the group has more than a month to get its head around these rules! As well as being one of the participating poets, I’ll also be the GRU (General Rule-Upholder 😛 ), making sure that everyone keeps on track and also understands the implications of each verse within the context of the rules. This means that people can relax and have fun, knowing that they’ll get a friendly nudge if need be or some advice if they want it.

I explain some of the rules we’ll be using in our collaborative poetry project in today’s video 🙂 .

Oh – and maybe I should mention that it’s my 300th adventure today! Only 65 days of adventuring left 😦 . I think this calls for a celebratory meal tonight, don’t you?

I’m just going outside and may be some time.

Adventure 297 ~ Learn Some Basic Japanese Phrases

japanese greeting hajimemashite.I think my renga project must be getting to me : for today’s adventure, I learn some basic phrases in Japanese :). I used a brilliant YouTube video to help me to learn the following phrases :

1. Nice to meet you / hello  [something you might say when you meet someone for the first time – and the kanji for this phrase are in the image on the left!]
2. My name is ….
3. It’s a pleasure to meet you [said when you’re bowing]

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 293 ~ Launch A Collaborative Poetry Project

big renga projectI’m sure you may have realised  by now that I’m a bit of a haiku fan 🙂 . As part of the research for my book Seventeen Syllables ~ Cultivating Presence Through Poetry, I looked at the origins of the haiku form. What is now known as haiku was originally known as hokku, the first verse of a collaborative linked- verse poem called a renga.

The renga form has been around since the thirteenth century, and you can find out more about it here. In a nutshell, groups of poets works together to create a linked poem. The first stanza follows a 3-line 5-7-5 syllable format, just like the haiku. It also contains a kigo (season word) and a kireji (cutting word). The second stanza responds to the first stanza, but this time in a 2-line 7-7 syllable format. The renga then gets handed back to the first poet or handed on to the third who, again, works with what is offered in the second stanza but employs the structure of the first (7-5-7).

This sequence of 3-line and 2-line structures is then repeated until the poem is done!

I thought is would be fun to work with other poets to create a renga poem called “December” to capture the spirit of this month. As December will be the last month of my 365 Days Of Adventure project, it feels like collaborating with others might be a lovely way to end the year.

So, for today’s adventure, I’m launching The Big Renga Project and this is where you come in! I’m putting out a call for a crew of 23 poets to join me in creating a 25-verse renga. Whilst no previous poetry-writing experience is required to join the project, I’m looking for  people who are

  • Up for learning about, and respecting, the renga form
  • Keen to collaborate and be part of  a supportive, playful, creative community
  • Able to keep their commitments
  • Prepared to be responsive and present to the previous stanza
  • Respectful of the emergent spirit of the renga
  • Willing to record their stanza in video format (so I can create a film of the whole renga with all the poets involved)

The project will start on December the 1st and the final verse will be created on the 25th. I will create a private Facebook group to facilitate collaboration and information sharing. Each day during December, the poem will be updated so that people can see the renga grow.

If this sounds like this project could be for you, please drop me an email to in the first instance. If you know of others who might enjoy being part of  this collaborative venture, please feel free to share this information with them.

NOTE – it is not necessary for the poetry to be written in English. However, to support other poets, a translation into English will be required for a smooth stanza transition! For all non-English stanzas, subtitles will be required for the video 🙂 .

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 280 ~ Create An Audiobook Version Of The Faerie Thorn

damian hamillHere’s the thing : I’ve only got 85 days  of adventuring left. Time’s flying and there’s still stuff I want to get done, stuff I want to complete. I’ve realised that I like completing things, and I’m beginning to realise exactly how much I’ve actually completed this year!

Whilst I’ve really enjoyed the smaller one-off adventures, the adventures that have taught me the most have been those that have become larger projects : my composing adventure (The Call, a choral piece for 3 voices), my writing adventure (The Faerie Thorn) and my poetic adventure (my haiku collection).

So now I’m shifting my focus a little, Why? Because I want to finish these projects. Because I want to share the outcomes of my adventurous undertakings. Because I want to break new personal ground. This means that over the next couple of weeks, whilst I will respond to the daily adventure impulse if the call is strong enough, I’m going to pay attention to the deeper impulse, the core impulse, the primitive, insistent impulse that has been emerging throughout my 365 Days Of Adventure project.

Actually, as I write these words, I’m not sure if I know exactly what I mean by “core impulse”,  but I can feel a deeper, wordless call. I recognise it. It’s been calling more insistently for the last couple of weeks, and it’s getting stronger by the day. I am listening. I am calling back. I am beginning to hear the resonant echo.

For today’s adventure, I took another step towards completing my writing adventure : I spoke with my friend Damian Hamill (the guy in the picture) who is originally from Northern Ireland (the setting for The Faerie Thorn) and who does voice-over work. I’ve sent him the manuscript and he’s going to turn my manuscript into an audiobook. Damian also talked me through all the options I have in terms of making my audiobook available for purchase and I’ve researched those options (and made a decision!).

I like the idea of collaborating, and I’m looking forward to hearing Damian’s interpretation of the characters in my story.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 275 ~ Learn Some Basic Welsh Phrases

Welsh dragonGoodness knows where the impulse for today’s adventure came from! If you’ve been following my adventures, you’ll know that I don’t plan ahead, I just wait for an impulse to arise every day. When the impulses arises, I follow it.  The impulse to learn some Welsh took me by surprise, but I followed the impulse and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

In my attempt to learn some basic phrases, I stumbled across a guy called Jingle Jeff on YouTube. I thought he was fabulous – even though his show is obviously meant for toddlers, it was perfect for me!

You can see how I got on in today’s video blog.

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 273 ~ Create A Word Cloud

adventure word cloud Yesterday, I received an Ezine that contained a very eye-catching world cloud, and I wondered if I could create something similar! A little bit of light Googling yielded an array of free web resources, and today I tried my hand at creating a word cloud using Tagul. *

The first word cloud is me just saying “a word or two” about what I’ve gained from my 365 Days Of Adventure project so far 😛 . I enjoyed using Tagul because it was easy to use: you can change fonts, you can modify text and background colour, and you can even change the shape in which the words are contained!

I tried feeding one of my haiku poems into a fitting shape too : it’s wonderful how the essence of the thing I am describing is captured. Honey fungus is the master of proliferation – and that is really conveyed by the word cloud!

honey fungus word cloud

I am just going outside and may be some time.

* All images on today’s post were created at


Adventure 267 ~ Jane Versus The Tech [The Rematch]

Wordpress Warrior Sad though it may seem, I can barely contain my excitement about today’s adventure!

As you may know, I’m hosting a storytelling webinar tomorrow evening. I’ve created a series of slides to support the presentation, and I thought it would be lovely if those who came along could download a copy of the slides. But I didn’t know how to create a downloadable PDF file …. UNTIL TODAY!

So for today’s adventure, I used the WordPress help files to learn how to create a download link. And I’ve done it!

I’m absolutely certain that my technological adventures have helped me to overcome my fear of “The Tech”. Now when I’m learning about techy stuff (and trying it out), it really feels like I’m just playing. With the absence of fear, I feel ready to try out new stuff. For me, this is definitely a very good thing indeed 🙂 .

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 263 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [24]

red admiral butterflyThis morning I went for a walk with my dog in Portglenone Forest, near Ballymena. Sparky adores it there : I think it must smell really great 😛 (and there’s plenty of territory to be marked too!)

A lot has changed since last week. I noticed that the mushrooms have started to die away ; only the honey fungus is looking anywhere near healthy. The path is rusting with leaves, and our walk was punctuated by the sound of falling beech nuts.

In one part of the forest there is a hollow which catches the sun. In this area, it still looks and feels like Summer. Some Red Admiral butterflies were sunning themselves in the hollow this morning, and they allowed me to get really close with my camera. Even Sparky was mesmerised by them!

For me, “butterfly” brings up words like transformation, change, metamorphosis and regeneration. Butterflies make me think about Nature’s continuous, and repeating, cycles. Since my poetic adventure is all about marking the transition from Summer into Autumn, a haiku about the butterfly makes for a perfect inclusion in my collection.

You can read my haiku here, and I read it out loud in today’s video-blog too.

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 262 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [23]

ploughed fieldIn this part of the world, the harvest is in, and a new cycle of activity is happening in the farming community. Many farmers consider the Autumn to be the beginning of the farming year – particularly arable farmers. Right now, fields are being ploughed and re-seeded with crops like winter barley and winter wheat.

Speaking to a local farmer this morning, I was asking about how winter crops work. He told me that if they plant winter crops around this time, then they would expect to harvest them in June/July next year. If you do the maths on that, that means the crops are in the ground for around 9 months. It really didn’t take me long to smile about the significance of that number, and the words Earth Mother came straight to mind 🙂 .

So today’s haiku is entitled “Earth Mother” : it’s a poem all about what happens after the harvest. You can read it here, and I also read it out loud on today’s video-blog.

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 261 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [22]

larch septemberToday’s poetic adventure was inspired by the larch tree that is growing at the top of our road! In the summer, this tree was like a beautiful, elegant, youthful woman, but now her beauty seems to be fading.

It surprised me to learn that larch is one of the few conifers which sheds its needles in Autumn. This morning as I was walking my dog, I noticed how brown and bare some of the branches were becoming – and this observation prompted today’s haiku.

You can read today’s haiku here, and I read it out loud in today’s video-blog. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering exactly how big a collection of haiku poems is, it’s 30! We’re nearly there 🙂 ).

I am just going outside and may be some time.