Hello again. This is John Stevenson and I will be facilitating a twelve verse renku, in the Jûnichô style. Over the coming weeks we will add one new verse each week, selected from your offers.
What a pleasure and, frankly, a relief it has been to see there is still enthusiasm for this renku feature after such a long delay. This week we were blessed with 133 hokku offers, from 31 poets. I’m going to comment on a few of the offers and select one to begin our new renku. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of good verses will be passed over. I thank everyone for their efforts and I hope you will feel, as I do, that the stimulation of our muses has some value in itself.
advancing the film
frame by frame
One of the things I’ll be looking for in each hokku offer is words or phrases that might function as a title. In this verse, both “waterfall” and “frame by frame” seem promising. I have commented in the past but will mention again that there is a direct relationship between renku and film montage. Russian film maker Sergei Eisenstein was inspired to create his varieties of film montage by his knowledge of Japanese linked verse.
in the quarry—
her brand-new body
“Skinny dipping,” “quarry” and “brand-new body” are all interesting title options. For me, this has some of the quality of a love verse and I probably will want to wait for later verses to go there.
father pops the cork
on a bottle of red
Joshua St. Claire
I won’t be able to use this as our hokku because “coolness” is listed in our reference file as an autumn kigo. I regret that because this verse does something, whether intentionally or not, that is a traditional function of the hokku but usually missing in contemporary practice. The hokku often served as a kind of indirect compliment to the host of the session. If I am regarded as “hosting” this on-line event, it just happens that “New Coolness” and “A Glass of Red” are titles of two Einbond winning renku, composed in Onawa, Maine by myself and my regular live renku partners, Yu Chang, Paul MacNeil and Hilary Tann.
Kerouac’s cat takes
a swipe at it
Seemingly a reference to about three different haiku by Jack Kerouac. In a very short renku, this kind of “packed with topics and reference points” verse can be very useful.
tarantula beneath a hand
of green bananas
The dexterity of use of the word “hand” is fun, if somewhat menacing! The four soundings of “an” are also deft.
leaps from the depths
of a star studded calm
In haiku practice, I am usually skeptical about a line that begins with punctuation. This verse offers a good case for it, however. Renku do not start with the equivalent of “once upon a time” nor conclude with “the end.” So, an opening that suggests there were words before these first words seems apt.
a place to store
the unheard cries
Wendy C. Bialek
The kigo is “cicada shell” and it is listed as a “late summer” image. In longer renku, this would put us at a disadvantage because the immediately following summer verse would have to be something listed as either “late summer” or “all summer.” But in this short renku there will only be the one summer verse.
swimming in it
Some of you may have missed the discussion relating to this and the other “octopus” verses submitted with it. They seemed to offer, as a group, a promising sequence for publication. That being the case, I stated that I would be reluctant to use any of them as our hokku if it would disqualify the set of them from publication. The poet replied, “I have no intention of submitting anything for publication, I simply enjoy the creative and collaborative process of the renku.” This is consistent with my own feelings about renku. The pleasure is in the collaborative process.
basket after basket
of ripe peaches,
cheeky side up
This is another offer that I will have to pass over. “Peaches” is listed as “early autumn” in our reference file. But what fun it would have been to start with this image!
to count the stars
The kigo is “short night,” which is listed as “all summer.” It seems like a great place to start a short renku. And the humor, suggesting that we would be able to complete the task of counting the stars if the night was only longer, also suggests that we take a light tone with the limitations of a shorter renku. We might also read this as an indirect reference to the host, who has explained why he has “barely time” for a short renku.
green leaf shade
young cardinals flutter
into the light
A really lovely image, covering a great many potential topic areas. As mentioned above, this might be less welcome in a longer renku, where we wouldn’t want to cover too much, too early. But here it works.
greeting dawn with its
one good eye
Dawn is always a good place to start.
With real grief at having to let go of so many great offers, those above and too many others to mention, I have selected this verse to be our hokku:
to count the stars
And, beginning with our next posting, I will list this session under the tentative title of “Barely Time.”
Please offer candidates for a second verse, using these guidelines:
- Two lines (a total of fourteen or fewer syllables)
- Non-seasonal (containing nothing from our list of kigo)
- Linking with the first verse as an imaged extension of the same time and place
- Probably set indoors
Please enter your offers in the comments section, below. Offers should be made by midnight, eastern US time, on Monday, June 27. On Thursday, June 30 I will post a selection of the offers, with my comments, and select the second verse for “Barely Time.”
Looking forward to more of the high standard of creativity that you have established,
The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy: https://thehaikufoundation.org/about-thf/policies/#code-of-conduct