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The New Renku Session 2

 

renku_300

 

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.

leaf litter…
each day the stronger pull
of gravity

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.

autumn deepens
a crow becomes one
with the night

Polona Oblak

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.”

the crow
drops an acorn
on my head

Jim Rodriguez

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:

autumn leaves
she sets out in
her tawny jacket

Andrew Shimield

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!

John

 

This Post Has 124 Comments

  1. Hi John

    Not quite sure if I am missing something. I have looked at this a few times and I still can’t figure out what second verse you picked.

    I love all the posts…great choices!

    paula

  2. on this first foggy evening
    street noise beyond the hedge
    .
    in questa prima sera di nebbia
    rumori di strada oltre la siepe

    1. Ooops. Didn’t know about the line spacing.
      .
      .
      autumn leaves
      she sets out in
      her tawny jacket
      .
      Andrew Shimield
      .
      .
      as turkey carver
      dad takes the crispiest skin

  3. now that the days are getting shorter,
    lemon plants are sheltered in greenhouses

    ora che le giornate si stanno accorciando,
    le piante di limone sono riparate in serra

    1. now that the days are getting shorter,
      lemon plants are sheltered in greenhouses
      .
      ora che le giornate si stanno accorciando,
      le piante di limone sono riparate in serra

    2. ora che i giorni si accorciano, le
      piante di limone sono riparate nelle serre
      .
      ora che le giornate si stanno accorciando,
      le piante di limone sono riparate in serra

  4. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    – Andrew Shimield
    .
    the cobblestone street
    lit by a full moon

  5. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket (Andrew Shimield)
    .

    sooner or later
    that caterpillar’s shroom
    .
    – Lorin

    1. Nice, Lorin. John did mention there would be others. And as he said we’re just setting out on a journey. What a journey you have presented…

  6. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket (Andrew Shimield)
    .

    wild mushrooms on the way
    to grandma’s house
    .
    – Lorin

  7. in the windows bags of candy
    for the advent calendar

    nelle vetrine sacchetti di caramelle
    per il calendario dell’avvento

  8. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    **
    sipping port
    by the fireplace
    **
    seeds scooped
    out of the pie pumpkin
    **
    a persimmon
    shared slice by slice
    **
    *with the “out in” I keep wanting to move things around so it doesn’t dangle, to something like “she sets out/ in her tawny jacket / autumn leaves” – but that may just be my personal preference for preposition placement. (and tongue twisters, apparently!)

    1. Agnes, I understand your concern and am pretty sure that in the normal course of things Denise Levertov would agree with you. It’s true that prepositions that dangle at the end of the line can conjure up the spruiker’s drum roll. ( “Also, with every purchase, a magnificent set of (dah-dah- da! or drum roll inserted here) plastic steak knives!”. ) Which is usually not wanted. 🙂
      .
      On the other hand, in this hokku Andrew’s middle line may be read as what some call a “pivot line”. (The Japanese haiku tradition has “pivot words”, words that can be read as equally applying to what goes before and what comes after.
      .
      (a)
      (the) autumn leaves
      she sets out in
      .
      (b)

      she sets out in
      her tawny jacket
      .
      There are the two different meanings of “sets out in”, one giving the environment of fallen autumn leaves ‘she’ begins her walk in (I assume ‘walk) and one giving what she’s wearing. (Whomever or whatever ‘she’ might be. . . really, we know nothing about her but gender. She might be any age, from toddler to old age, but she isn’t necessarily human. mall dogs wear jackets provided by their caring owners in cold weather. Someone’s Chihuahua?)
      .
      This ‘double’ meaning (ambiguity) would be lost if the preposition was shifted from “spruiker’s position” . I’m pretty sure the ambiguity was intentional and that John was aware of it when he selected it.
      .
      – Lorin

      1. Thanks so much for this–I kept stumbling on “in” also–suspected I was missing something, and so I was. Hidden in plain sight!

      2. However, the so-called ‘pivot’ is a hominem in Japanese (and Japanese has many), not a ‘pivot line’ that can be read with what is before or after, and it doesn’t create a situation of poor grammar I don’t think. Apparently, none of this matters?

        1. Perhaps you mean ‘hominym’, rather than ‘hominem’, Elaine?
          .
          If so, yes, that’s right. However, the mid-line as “pivot” or “hinge” has been a recognized, accepted option to “short/long/short” in EL haiku for at least this century, whether we like it or not. I don’t know how it evolved.
          .
          You’ll need to point out the “poor grammar” in our hokku for me, though, Elaine, because I can’t see any.
          .
          But I keep in mind that we have representatives of at least four Englishes on this thread and I know from experience that what might seem “poor grammar” to those from one region in which this ‘common language’ is spoken may be simply the accepted vernacular in another, so I’ll be interested to see what you mean.
          .
          – Lorin

          1. I’m typing with a cast on my hand and fighting spell-check, but I can see why that’s important to my comment. ‘out in’ ending a phrase is what I referred to. I guess what is in play here is ‘ELH’ rather than ‘haiku’ as the norm. The phrasing leaves an odd enjambment in order to create the proposed ‘pivot’, which stands out as an obvious device as I read it. I like the verse though.

          2. Ah, Elaine, I sympathize. I’ve given up fighting spellcheck for most things. ( I think spell-check is just one part of an Orwellian plot to replace English spelling with American English spelling, since it has always returned to that no matter how many times I reset it. 🙂 )
            .
            I think I see what you mean, now (and thanks for responding) It’s the “odd enjambment” in this hokku that serves to alert readers to the “swinging door” effect of that middle line. I don’t believe it’s a case of bad grammar, though. A film director might say: ” The music should emphasize the stormy weather our heroine sets out in.” and ” For the dream sequence we need a different costume than the one she sets out in.”
            .

            .

  9. invitation to a snack
    with must and donuts
    ***
    someone slams a carpet
    behind the bare hedge

    ***
    the pumpkin puree
    cools down on the plate

  10. Congratulations Andrew.
    .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    .
    a feral tom emerges
    in a sardine cloud
    .
    one metrical foot after another
    along the yellow brick road
    .
    a naked insect
    becomes the whole of boredom
    .

  11. Congratulations Andrew! and Thank you John for giving us all the pleasure of joining in the fun.

    Autumn Leaves
    She sets out in
    Her tawny jacket

    Andrew Shimield

    under the full moon
    a whistle for her dog

  12. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    – Andrew Shimield
    .
    silhouettes of sandpipers
    along the shore

  13. At last! Hurray for a new renku! I’ve been looking out for one for so long, and of course I missed the advent. Thank you, John. And thank you, Andrew, for a fine beginning.
    ***
    Verse 1
    ***
    the harvester’s maw
    devours the grapes
    ***
    Verse 2
    ***
    vineyards crouch
    before the windstorm
    ***
    Verse 3
    ***
    a chilly wind
    and the paper flies

  14. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    – Andrew Shimfield
    .
    freshly pressed cider
    at the festival

  15. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .

    who draws the short straw
    digs the potatoes
    .
    – Lorin

    1. This one is so unexpectedly funny, Lorin, the tone especially. I’ve never dug potatoes, so I guess I didn’t realize what a chore it might be. We tried planting some this past spring, but our late freeze nipped any possibility of digging. Maybe I should be thankful?

      I also love the phrase “butternut pumpkins” and your image of the hay rolls (which my Dad always called “elephants” when I was a kid).

      So many different moods to choose from. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a branching renku that followed different tangents? It would be interesting to see where each one might end up…

  16. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    butternut pumpkins
    at the farmers’ market
    .
    – Lorin

  17. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    Andrew Shimield
    .
    one more scarecrow
    taken by the wind
    .

    a dark wind pushing
    at bales of rolled hay
    .
    – Lorin

  18. Lovely start, John and Andrew!
    .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out
    in her tawny jacket
    .
    pies cooling on the sill
    under a dog’s watchful eye

    1. What delightful imagery, Marietta! Made me laugh. haha My dog is quite attentive when it comes to such matters as well.

  19. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    – Andrew Shimield
    .
    a sandpiper’s dance
    along the shoreline

  20. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket

    under leaf litter
    the crunch of pine branches

    ——————-
    a black squirrel
    adds to her hoard
    ——————-

    reinforcing the nest
    a crow prepares for winter

    This my first time doing this – I like it!!
    Lynne

    1. That’s great, Lynne. Glad to have you playing. A side benefit, at least for me, is that verses I’ve written that were not used so often serve as inspirations for haiku to be used somewhere else.

  21. autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    *
    stumbles on a lucky penny
    hiding in the acorns
    *
    My first go with one of these–they’ve always intrigued me. They seem to be addictive!

  22. Thank you, John. I’m glad you enjoyed my offering. Well,done, Andrew. Here are 3 offerings.
    *
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    – Andrew Shimield
    *
    the smell of maple syrup
    from the bakery café
    *
    frosted tips
    under the scarecrows hat
    *
    pausing to ponder
    the Milky Way

    1. I’m thinking another clothing item might eliminate the scarecrow’s hat! Repetition can be so nuanced. I’ll try another version.
      *
      the straw hair of the scarecrow
      tipped with frost

  23. Thanks for picking up the renku baton again, John.
    Thanks for choosing my verse for the hokku.
    Looking forward to seeing where we go in the next 11 verses.
    Thanks also for the appreciative comments from Maureen, Michael and others
    Andrew

    1. Although I will not be repeating a poet from so many contributors and in such a brief renku, I hope you will continue to play along, Andrew!

    1. ah, I like this image, Autumn, 🙂 I also saw a single doe crossing a path or road. Or a schoolroom, as unexpectedly in the film ‘Children of Men’.
      .
      – Lorin

      1. Hi, Lorin! What a happy thing, to write in tandem with you here! Thank you for your comment. It’s the end of rutting season here in the mountains. I was pond-watching out my window yesterday morning when I spotted a big buck pursuing a lone doe through the falling snow. The doe dashed into a creek-side thicket and hunkered down, biding her time. Once the buck wandered off, she bounded up to the road and made her escape. The image was still fresh in my mind when I happened across Andrew’s perfect hokku–synchronicity!

        So good to hear from you!

        Autumn

  24. Hi, John. I hope you are doing well. Lots of wonderful candidates. I love your verse, Andrew! So colorful and uplifting.
    .
    .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    .
    a sandpiper’s
    lengthening shadow

    1. I really like this, Maureen. The shift from tawny to what I see as more unsaturated high contrast tones is quit vivid. And who doesn’t love what lengthening shadows do for one’s image?!

      1. Hi, Liz Ann! Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate your insight. So nice to know that my intentions came through. I love your commentary. Made me smile. I can imagine such a caption in a fashion mag. Yes, one is always on the hunt for that which elongates the figure! haha Take care.

  25. We’re off to a good start on our second verse. Don’t forget that this is an autumn verse. We can’t name the season because it is named in the hokku but we need to have some image that clearly indicates autumn. This could be a moon verse, though we are free to have a moon verse in any season in this twelve verse format. The convention in renku is that any mention of the moon is presumed to be an autumn moon unless otherwise specified.

  26. autumn leaves
    she sets out
    in her tawny jacket

    bird and watcher
    double layered

    OR

    autumn leaves
    she sets out
    in her tawny jacket

    ribs of a stray
    in a cold rain

  27. A hearty welcome back John and congratulations Andrew!!!!
    **************************************************
    threading one’s way
    through the pumpkin patch
    ****************
    a loose thread
    the color of chestnuts
    ********************
    one wide wale teddy bear
    with leather button eyes

  28. this one caught my attention, too! I love that tawny! andrew and john

    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket

    *

    feathers from tom’s
    brown hoodie

    .
    wendy c. bialek

  29. Well done, Andrew!
    .
    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket
    – Andrew Shimield
    .
    the noon sun coloring
    a meadowhawk’s wings
    – Betty Shropshire

  30. Well done, Andrew — and good choice, John.

    autumn leaves
    she sets out in
    her tawny jacket

    the fog morphs
    into a badger

      1. Time is something we are all short of, John, and I’m sure we are all more than pleased to have you here taking this session.
        .
        Thank you.

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