Renshi Workshop

Editor's Note: On June 22nd 2010 the poets of No Choice but to Follow gave a reading at Punahou School after which each poet led a workshop for different aged students ranging from those about to enter the sixth grade to those going into the twelfth grade. Linked poetry was described as “PoetryTag,” because students were encouraged to lock onto someone else’s poem to write their own. Each poet followed her own plan and process. This is Ann Inoshita's experience.

Renshi Workshop

Ann Inoshita shares idea generating techniques with students, and students produce their own renshi poems.

Joe Tsujimoto gave great suggestions for the workshop, and students from Joe’s class and Diane Koushki’s class participated. Here’s what we did in the workshop:

– An envelope containing lines from No Choice but to Follow (the last lines and six random lines from my poems and the last lines from Juliet’s poems) was passed around the class.
– Students picked a line for a title (title could be changed slightly) and had ten minutes to write a poem.
– If a student had extra time, she/he could write another poem using the last line of her/his peer’s poem.
– Then students volunteered to read poems in class.

Before the workshop began, I read a Pidgin poem from the renshi, “Without Meaning to Be Cruel”, and I discussed how I came up with ideas for the poem. Then I wrote on the board different ways to generate ideas that I found useful when participating in the renshi:

– Think of a past memory/event.
– Think of a historic or newsworthy event.
– Make up a fictional situation that a character or you could encounter.
– Think of a feeling that you wish to express in a poem happy/sad/nervous/etc. Then create a poem reflecting on a past event that made you feel this emotion.
– Use standard English, Pidgin, or slang for your poem.

Below are poems from Joe’s nine students and Diane’s thirty-four students. I typed the poems with only a few spelling changes made.

I tried to keep the integrity of all poems. Although some poems from Diane’s class were copied/pasted directly from the students’ websites, the copy/paste did not transfer the font and color. The poems listed below are using the same font and color. If you wish to see the original poems from Diane’s class with varying fonts and colors, please go to this website:

Original Poems from Diane's Koushki's Techoscribes class at Punahou

From Joe Tsujimoto’s class:

Forgetting the Meaning of Good

As my anger rages in me I forget what is good.
I start saying words without thinking.
Can’t focus.

Think of what I did wrong, try to forget it.

My Heart hurts.
Can’t change history.

As I think, I did nothing wrong.
When I think again, I knew that it was a lie.

After years of separation

After years of separation I was glad that I could see him again.
I was worried that he would forget me
It has been years since we last met.
But now we are together
The loneliness of the years slipped away

Summer is Ending

Summer is ending
No more sleepovers. No more staying up late
Now you have to do home work
New teachers. New classmates and new friends
Be nice to the new kids. Show them around
Summer is ending so suck the rest of it up
Next year summer will come again
Summer is forever lasting


The shine of the water in the summer
Waves pounding on the shore
The bright tranquil pond

The bird’s shiny blue feathers
Sound of chirping in the trees
The soft beating of wings

The shine of a glistening dewdrop
The fresh smell of mowed grass

The ark of a shiny rainbow forming in the
Its colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue
and purple
Blend into its beautiful background

Kids eating shining shaved ice on the corner
Syrup spilling down their paper cups

The shine of it all!

From The Clouds

Looking up in the sky
Arms in back of my head
Watching clouds shape into something
A fluffy body appears
What is it?

Not Here

You promised you’ll be here,
But now look what you caused.
The madness, the sorrow,
Everything will leave an everlasting scar
For me. Just for me.
Feel the emptiness that I feel.
Madness, sorrow, emptiness, and pain,
All caused by you.


At a campfire with a cozy fire,
I sit on a log eating marshmallows,
Listening to stories I’ve never heard before.

The stories pull me in,
Into my own magical world,
Where I fall into a trance,
Dreaming about mythical creatures.

I slowly become sleepy,
Imagining a world full of stories,
I feel more and more sleepy,
And I slowly close my eyes.


You should always smile
Even when you’re mad
Always smile whenever you are happy
Just smile to make yourself happy

Don’t smile in a grave
Don’t cry anywhere



It was morning time when all the birds awoke me from a deep sleep
I got up and looked out of my window
A beautiful sunrise coming from behind the mountains
Red, Pink, Orange, and Yellow all mixed together to the perfect degree
Birds flew across the ocean to their new homes
My eyes were getting heavy again so I lay back down
My head hit the pillow and I slowly drifted back to sleep

From Diane Koushki’s class:


I listen to the radio in the car as we head to da beach,
One big gecko ends up on my window,
I scream like it was goin to jump on me,
my big sis parks at that one big beach,
goes running for da water and forgets about me,
I roll down my window and da gecko jumps off.
I take one big breath and got out of da car.
I set out my big towel and close my eyes.
I listen to the waves crashing against the smooth sand.
I smell the salty sea crawling up my skin.
Water is so refreshing.


Going by
like a soft fluffy bunny
Wispy and nice
Moving ever so slowly
With the other figures in the sky
Like dragons
And helicopters
–Jade, 6th Grade


When you look at the
it never
Stays there forever
it goes away.

Your eyes are locked
onto the sunset.
You do notice the pretty orange
and a slight of red.
But every one else is
looking at the shape of the sunset.
But when you look away
for a second
it fades away.

And the dark night starts to come out
and your eyes are on something else.
The night is getting colder
and the stars are coming out
and your eyes are
to something else.
–True, Grade 6

Wishing it was Morning

Wishing it was morning
is very hard to do
is my birthday
lots of toys and
Yummy chocolate cake
going down my throat
I snuck in my parents’
last night
and saw some surprise
to all of my friends
and tomorrow morning
is the
wishing it were morning
is very hard to do.
–Pinky, Grade 5

What Will Become of us?

What will become of us?
if we don't respect the earth?
or listen to the voice of nature?
What will become of us?
when the animals are gone
the tiger
the lion
almost gone.
What will become of us?
when mother nature is

I will tell you what…

we will miss the wind
and the trees
with radiant hues
we will miss the sea
that shone
a brilliant aqua blue
we will miss the past.
we will miss the earth…

when the world is now
when the birds don't sing
when the animals don’t cry
what will become of us?
When we lay waste to the
–Saige, Grade 6

Summer is Ending

The leaves are changing colors
Bright hues of orange and red.
The air is getting colder.
The days are getting shorter,
While the nights become longer.
The kids are going back to school.
There is no denying it,
Summer is ending.
–William, Grade 6

I jumped in the water
to find a shell
I picked it up and swam
up, up and up
I ran on the beach and walked
up, up and up
When I got to my house
I put the shell
with my shells
and ran back to
the beach
for search of more shells and
I kept on walking
I was so tired
that I just took a nap
–Cole, Grade 6

The Next Life

I went to my friend’s house;
she was slowly dying.

But I didn’t worry;
she was going to have another life.
My family called it
the next life.

Her hand finally dropped limp;
she had gone to her next life.

Next Life is supposed to be full of
everything you wished for
when you were little.
For example,
Santa Clause,
the Tooth Fairy,
the Easter Bunny.

I hoped her life was full of those
as it was for me.

to tell you the truth,
I was in
my Next Life.
–Riana, Grade 5

Before She Leaves

Before she leaves for work everyday
I tell her "Bye, Come home safely"
I do that every morning
so I know she will always be protected
I remember to tell her that
no matter how tired I am
studying for a test overnight
or how late I am for school.

I know that she will come home
safely every day after work.
She is a strong person
who just needs some extra help
but she will always succeed.
I know that my mom
will come home.
–Sara, Grade 5

Embracing the Breeze

I embrace the cool Breeze.
It comforts me.
It cools me down
when I am frustrated.
The Breeze
allows me to be calm.
I embrace the Breeze.
–Maya, Grade 5

To Breathe

I can hear myself breathing soft and slow.
In and out, in and out;
The air shoots and sped all around me.
I stopped breathing for a second,
The place was full of people breathing as I
When I'm scared I start breathing faster and
And then the breathing stops and I'm not scared
any more.
To breathe,
All of the air I breathe is clean and fresh.
It's wonderful,
Then I become old and the fresh air I breathe
doesn't help me,
Till I take my last breath as I'm in the bed and
To breathe that last breath
I'm gone…
–Jake, Grade 5

I'm gone
(Begun from Jake's poem)

When I went off to
I was thinking to
my self
I'm gone from my
my friends
my pets
and my home.
I will never see any
one again
I waited and waited
No one came
Until wait it's
I saw everybody at
our Christmas
–Gregory, Grade 5

I Could Still Hear the Dog Crying

One night I was about to fall asleep
when I realized my next door neighbors got
a new dog
it didn’t sound like they were taking care of
the whole night I could hear the dog crying
in the morning I could still hear the dog
I felt soo bad for that dog so I went over
to talk to the owners
it wasn’t a pretty sight
it looked like they didn’t feed the poor dog
so I asked if I could take him and they
said yah it’s a skinny dog
so it found himself a new home.
–Gregory, Grade 5

Lights Guide My Way

I depend on the happiness in my life to
lead me
I need happiness to light my life
A life without humor would devastate

No one is without happiness
Unless they choose to be unhappy
If you were foolish enough to try
You wouldn’t survive

Bravery can’t replace happiness
Neither can Money
The one thing you need to light your
Is happiness
Joy is the light in your life
The one thing you need to see
To proceed
–Allison, Grade 6

Moving Into the White House

I am now moving into the White House
I have no idea how it all happened but I read a letter
I am happy to be able to get anything I want
When I want it

I could read forever in the sea of books they have
Or play video games all day
I could get a dog and play with it all the time
We could play fetch together, or take a walk with one

I could have gourmet food for every meal
Bacon and the best scrambled eggs for breakfast
For lunch I could have a plain old sub, or I could have
some of the best sushi
For dinner we could have the best soup ever!!!

Then I realized that we are moving into a white house
In California
–Yassi, Grade 6

Your Eyes
I gazed into your eyes and saw what a beautiful color they were
A golden brown, I saw.
They searched mine and discovered my soul
I found yours, also.

Everything melted away until it was only you and I,
In the glimmer of the sunlight.
We were one,
And nothing would ever change that.

But you were disappearing
And I tried to pull you back.
But I could only grasp the air.
I was slowly fading into the darkness.

And I woke up,
And you weren’t there.
What a wonderful dream it was,
To be with you again.

When She
Asked Me

She asked
me to go get
some bread
at the store.
With all of
this money I
could buy
bread galore.
I went and I
met the
school bully
on the way.
He said give
me that and
took the
money away,
Then I went
home and
she asked
me what
Then I told
her the
money had
fallen down
the drain.
Later that
day she
asked me to
buy some
–Johnny, Grade 5

What will become of us?

Your life depends on what you become
The way you use your life
The way you treat your life

Will you become what you expect
Or will you become what others expect

Will we become together
Or will we never meet again

What you want to become may never be.
But what you believe to become is what you
will always be.
–Haleigh, Grade 6

Never Meaning to be Cruel

was never meaning to be cruel
when he got taken away.
He lost his temper
and killed.
Prison to him
and mentally to his family.
To prison for being an assassin.
Too bad for him.
He Killed his own
–Aria, Grade 5


it was the bottom of the ninth
loaded bases
and i was up to bat
the score was tied
with 2 outs
i go up to bat
barely breathing
and swallowing hard
it’s either i get out
and lose the game
or i get on base.
the count is full,
i step back into the box
the pitcher pitches the ball.
it looks good
so i
at it
and i make contact
it flies
all the way to the left field fence.
our team wins
by two
and i can finally
–Galen, Grade 6

The Room Fills with Stories

The room fills with stories
as I read the books out loud.
All my things
go flying all around the room.
My clothes
my homework
and my books
As I go down the stairs
stories would come down
and follow me
As I go.
When I went outside the house,
the house was filled with stories.
When I read more and more
all the stories go back to the
into the room.
–Nuutasi, Grade 6

The Eyes

The eyes see a lot of things
It will see happiness
It will see sadness
It will also see pain

But what the eyes see
is not true
Sometimes it can
hide things
It can hide
what you don't want to see
But someone who sees
what they don't want to see
is a true hero

One Page at a Time

I have to turn in
5 different essays
by the end of the day.
I don’t know
which one to do
Do I do the hardest one first
or the easiest one first.
The clock is ticking
and I don’t know
what to do.
I finally decide
to follow my instincts.
I do the essays
in the order that I’ve been
–Jonah, Grade 5

Hard to Breathe

I'm sitting
he is walking
I could run
But then
he will run too
I already feel it coming
it happens
So fast
right into my stomach
It made it
hard to breathe

There I was waiting for you right outside your door
you my older brother
then you came out BOO!!!
you were so shocked you threw a punch
right at my face… ouch!!!
there I was lying on the ground in pain
you help me up and apologize
but I didn't forgive I went right to mom
but she didn't care and you got away
laughing we were BOTH laughing together
–Andrew, Grade 6

What Happened

I was sitting
next to the window
something caught me eye.
There was an
in the basement
of the apartment
I lived in.
I asked my mom,
"Who got injured?"
She said,
"A man."
I asked,
"Can we go down to
said my mom.
Why not?
I was saying this,
I was wondering
what happened?
–Kasandra, Grade 5

The Uncreative

Are you creative
You're sitting at the door
watching the horizon
What am I going to do
This won't last forever

You're trying
and trying
and still
Will happen
Your pencil won't move
Anxious to do anything
and waiting
Until it is the right time to get

Your watching
and watching
waiting for the time
Your time is running out
It’s the perfect shoot
but not to you

Your paper is waiting for
Something but
you think that you are
You walk up the steps and wait
till tomorrow
–Cierra, Grade 6

Before He Leaves

Before he leaves
I want to show him
he will never be
Before he leaves
I want him to know
I will never forget
And even though
we have a new
is still our Tucker
and we will love
the same.
Before he leaves
I want to cuddle
and rub him.
And help him enjoy his


I always feel happy
in the wind.
Like when I am playing with my friends outside.
I just feel free
and alive in the wind.
I love wind
because you could breathe fresh air.
Like when I was playing football
outside in the air
it was the 4th quarter
and there were 9 seconds remaining in the game
I was the quarter back for my team
I took a deep breath of the fresh air
and smelled the beauty of the wind
then said hike
I was very nervous
because I needed to run the ball
because nobody was open
we were at the 10 yard line of ours
I needed to run 90 yards
to win the game
I was running my hardest to get to the touchdown
I was at the 1 yard line
and I scored
after I scored
I had to breathe in the
to catch my breath.
I felt very happy after that.
–Cole, Grade 5

What Has Happened

I woke up
went downstairs
no one was there
I looked everywhere
I couldn't find
What happened to everyone
I was all
— Lindi, Grade 5

Smiling In The Wind

In the wind,
I hear the sound of leaves floating to the ground.
The wind blows around in
a flurry of leaves
then settles.
Brown, red, and amber,
coating the forest floor.
In the wind,
I feel the chill in the air, the breeze blowing by.
I see the faces of delicate spring flowers,
pink, green, and blue,
soft, silky petals,
smiling in the wind.
–Alice, Grade 5

Shattered the Water

I poured a glass of water
drip by drip
water falls
on the floor
shattered in a
million pieces
–Nick, Grade 6

Into the Wild

Into the wild,
see the gleaming teeth.
You can just watch
as you run for cover.
Into the wild,
stalk the squirrel,
watch where it hides
in the shadows.
Into the wild,
lunge at the stunned squirrel
and devour your meal.
–Bryson, Grade 5

Of the Next Life

The next life
is full of ghosts and ghouls
intent on
revenge on the living.
Many are trapped
where their bodies lay
while others
haunt the graves
of a cemetery..
Their presence can still be felt.
To all those who don't believe me
–Brian, Grade 5

She Held a Gardenia

she held a gardenia
in that garden of hers
she stroked the grass
like a cat’s soft furs

waved in the breeze
the rest of the flowers
but held near her heart
was the gardenia
just hers

leaves fell from the trees
in a shower of petals
blew the breeze
in the garden of meadows

back to the earth
the flower it gave
put in the soil
for later to save

back in its place
it swayed with its friends
the flower’s stem
swayed as it bends

in the garden
filled with fun
all this
under the bright afternoon sun…
–Preston, Grade 6

White House

The White House
is a beautiful place
once burned down
in the war of 1812.
much has changed
since then Barack Obama
is the new
He has created the Victory Garden.
Obama has made history.
He is the only African American to be the
President of the United States
–Anthony, Grade 6


ANN INOSHITA was born and raised on O'ahu. She has published poems in Bamboo Ridge, Hawaiʻi Pacific Review, Hawaiʻi Review, and Tinfish. Her book of poems, Manoa Stream, was published by Kahuaomanoa Press in 2007. Her short play, Wea I Stay: A Play in Hawaiʻi, was included in The Statehood Project, performed by Kumu Kahua Theatre and published by Fat Ulu Productions. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and currently teaches at Kapi'olani Community College.

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