I am John Stevenson and I will be your guide for a twelve-verse renku, in which we will compose one verse per week until completion. A longer session, with a different leader, is being planned to follow this one.
Renku is a kind of game for poets, through which a collaborative poem is created. Succeeding verses are written by different contributors. Throughout the entire work, each new verse connects in some way with the one preceding it but with no others. A renku is not narrative in nature. Rather, it has been likened to traveling down a winding river, in which we know where we have been and which way we must turn to follow the river, but not yet where or in which direction we will have to turn next.
Having offered the first renku post here in almost a year, I was worried that the interval of silence may have dampened the enthusiastic response that we have enjoyed in the past. I needn’t have worried. There were ninety-five offers of hokku at the deadline (and a few more beyond it), submitted by forty-five poets. Thank you to everyone!
Before announcing the verse I have selected for your hokku, I would like to comment on some (but not all) of the offers that I enjoyed. If I haven’t commented on yours, don’t presume that means I didn’t appreciate it. I’m just picking a few that inspired comments that I hope may be helpful.
late salmon run
the local pier
fills with seal watchers
Liz Ann Winkler
The image of a salmon run is a lovely invocation for a brief, twelve verse renku and the humor of the last line feels exactly right for a hokku.
each day the stronger pull
Michele L. Harvey
This would be a more somber opening verse and it would be fun to see where we might go from here. A really nicely realized verse. I would love to see some of the verses offered here as stand-alone poems in some haiku journal.
a crow becomes one
with the night
I say the same about this verse as I’ve said about Michele L. Harvey’s. Also, I like the idea of having the first verse containing the idea of “oneness.”
drops an acorn
on my head
I laughed out loud at this one. It helps to know Jim, as I do. He has been leading some renku sessions and perhaps we can get him to lead one here sometime.
Our hokku is:
she sets out in
her tawny jacket
This is a quiet one. My first impression of “autumn leaves” is their colors but, as the poem develops, this impression becomes muted and I come, at the end, to the sound of dry, fallen leaves as someone walks through them. Autumn leaves are sight and sound. “Tawny” is a range of colors and, also, a first name. The person depicted may think of her jacket as a statement of identity. There will be others. She is just setting out, as are we.
For our second verse, these will be the requirements:
- a two line verse, without a cut or break
- an autumn image
- makes us see the first verse in a different way
Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Tuesday, November 26 (New York time zone). On Thursday, November 28, there will be a new posting containing my selection for our second verse, some discussion of other appreciated offers, and instructions for composing the third verse.
I look forward to seeing your offers!