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The New Renku Session

 

renku_300

 

After a short hiatus, The Renku Sessions returns to The Haiku Foundation. 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.

I will aim to make this session enjoyable for both new and experienced renku partners. Rather than laying all of the rules before you at once, a nearly impossible task and surely a way to discourage newcomers, I will give you a few requirements for each verse and leave it at that. My hope is that this will be fun and will encourage you to want to do it again. Subsequent practice will always yield new lessons. But, first, it has to be fun.

I now begin by asking you to submit offers for the starting verse (hokku). Here are the requirements:

  • a three-line poem of seventeen syllables or less
  • an image that suggests autumn (for poets in the northern hemisphere) or spring (for poets in the southern hemisphere)
  • a two-part structure – two different images, separated by punctuation (a comma, dash, ellipsis, etc.) or by a line break that clearly indicates a break in narrative structure

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Tuesday, November 19 (New York time zone). On Thursday, November 21, there will be a new posting containing my selection for our opening verse, some discussion of other appreciated offers, and instructions for composing the second verse.

I look forward to seeing your offers!

John

 

This Post Has 128 Comments

      1. Hi Carol,
        .
        I wonder about ‘beechwood’ being the opening line? It feels so emotive and powerful for anyone who knows and loves them. 🙂
        .
        .
        BEECHWOOD
        Beechwood is the wood from any of ten species of beech trees.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beech
        .
        .
        I wondered if “the late afternoon” could be the second line, possibly followed by ‘ablaze’ as the the third line?
        .
        Just thinking out aloud. 🙂

        1. Hi Alan
          .
          I think that’s an excellent revision, for me, it adds to the colours and warmth. A comforting indoor and outdoor effect.
          Thankyou.
          .
          Thanks for the link also, I’ll be investigating further as this is of interest.

          Keep cosy
          Carol

  1. smoke of wood-
    the white heart
    of chicory

    **********

    shorter days-
    in a crock pot
    the last lemon

    ************
    bare garden
    that silence of wind
    among the birches

  2. fall wind
    spinning the gold
    of pine needles
    *
    call of wild geese
    chairs gone
    from the porch
    *
    first frost
    the sparkle
    of stemware
    *

  3. muscat grapes –
    eating sun rays
    one by one
    ***
    autumn moon –
    young smiles again
    in our garden
    ***
    how slight
    the cement in the fog!
    october dawn

  4. sna – packle – op
    acorns blanket
    the circle drive
    *************
    snap crackle pop
    a blanket of acorns atop
    the circle drive

    1. Okay, I ought to have checked the spelling… it seems ‘canvases’ is primarily the US spelling and ‘canvasses’ is the UK version (which I ought to have used–but then I’m Irish! 🙂 )

          1. Ah, lovely John, unfairly persecuted by certain newspapers. I never got to meet him while renga poet-in-residence at Hull, although I met Alan Johnson, former Home Secretary who wrote a verse himself, by himself! 🙂
            .
            But I did know a transgender woman, when she worked at Boots, who was friends with John Prescott’s wife. She saw her later, and John was cautious, until his wife said she’s a lovely person, and not political. John Prescott, from another person I knew, swam for charity every single day despite sometimes being exhausted by work, and nasty newspapers. He also had an open house every week he could at home, until the newspaper houndings got too much. So he’s not the villain so successfully portrayed by certain newspapers.
            .
            It’s amazing what egg can do in painting, and if I don’t wash scrambled egg pans ASAP. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Carol. Yes, a colourful and inspirational season indeed.

        Thanks for you comments, Alan (I can’t add any more to the post) Yes, the media has a lot to answer for.

        1. Hi Marion,
          .
          It was wonderful, through renga, that I saw one very senior politician more than once, who contributed not only a renga verse (himself) but answered a plea for help, written down on our renga sheets at Hull Central Library. So renga really is a community activity!
          .
          Enjoying your renku verses very much, as I am with everyone else! 🙂

  5. remaining insects…
    Kafka’s new audience
    eat up the pages
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    .
    Kigo for late autumn: remaining insects
    Insects still left over, nokoru mushi 残る虫
    .
    Choice of ‘eat up’ rather than ‘eats up’ deliberate.
    .
    Plus a literary allusion. 🙂

    1. Wow – brilliant! In the interest of learning, would you mind explaining your deliberate choice of phrasing in the third line?

      1. Hi PK! 🙂
        .
        re:
        “Wow – brilliant! In the interest of learning, would you mind explaining your deliberate choice of phrasing in the third line?”
        .
        .
        remaining insects…
        Kafka’s new audience
        eat up the pages
        .
        Alan Summers
        .
        .
        Grammatically it should be ‘eats’, isn’t that right? As the ‘audience’ eats up the pages. But that would deny the saying ‘to eat up everything’ as in believe everything without factchecking etc…
        .
        .
        4. verb To believe unquestioningly that something is true. A noun or pronoun can be used between “eat” and “up.”
        I told them that I like this stupid school, and they totally ate it up—I guess I’m a pretty good actress.
        https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/eat+something+up
        .
        .
        And Kafka is famous for bringing to our attention the devious bureaucracy that can occur not only in government and its institutions, but across big corporate organisations, and even other areas in society. So I’m hinting that we “eat up the pages” of newspapers and other media that have an ulterior motive.
        .
        But it’s also just a pun, and ‘hai’ means humour, and we have insects that eat paper, and we eat up paper, or more likely today, eat up what appears on our electronic device screens. 🙂
        .
        It might be too devious for this kind of renga as well! 😉

        1. remaining insects…
          Kafka’s new audience
          eat up the pages
          .
          Alan Summers
          .
          Nicely done, Alan. A really humorous bringing together of the classical Japanese seasonal reference and Kafka’s surreal novel ,The Metamorphosis, and a clever double meaning : insects (such as silverfishes and cockroaches) literally eating away at the paper pages of the book and the new audience metaphorically doing the same.
          .
          “Grammatically it should be ‘eats’, isn’t that right? As the ‘audience’ eats up the pages. But that would deny the saying ‘to eat up everything’ as in believe everything without factchecking etc… ” Alan
          .
          Yes, it should be ‘eats up’, as you say, simply because ‘audience’, like ‘money’, is an uncountable noun and uncountable nouns take plural verbs.
          .
          I don’t believe having ‘eats’ would deny the saying you refer to. Having ‘eat’ instead of ‘eats’ doesn’t do anything but distract attention away from the intended, metaphor-based saying by shouting, “Grammo!”. You’d be far better off using “eat”, in my view.
          .

          – Lorin

          1. Duh! How did that last sentence happen?
            .
            correction:
            .
            ” You’d be far better off using “eats”, in my view.”
            .
            – Lorin

          2. Cheers Lorin,
            .
            Okay, the ‘eats’ version. 🙂
            .
            .
            .
            remaining insects…
            Kafka’s new audience
            eats up the pages
            .
            Alan Summers
            .
            .
            .
            It makes me think that possibly Kafka and the audience are now long gone, and thus even a living audience is blind to the machinations that Mr Orwell and Mr Kafka warned us about so long ago.
            .
            Alan

          3. .
            Thanks Alan and Lorin for your comments. One of the things I love about this forum is the opportunity to learn from experienced/published haijin. You could substitute “devoured every word” or “eats up the yellowed pages” (yellow journalism), but I think it is a fabulous ku as is.
            .
            Alan – another question if I might. You said, “It might be too devious for this kind of renga as well!”. Why would it be to devious for this kind of renga? And what type of renga would it be more suited for?
            .

          4. Hi PK! 🙂
            .
            Not devious in the sinister sense, or as sinister means ‘left’ perhaps it’s too ‘left field’? 🙂
            .
            I’ve taken part in a number of New Junicho renga, both online, and as a renga poet-in-residence in Devon, England: https://area17.blogspot.com/2012/03/renga-days-with-alan-summers-and-jann.html
            .
            It was where we could really experiment, both with seasoned haiku and/or renga/renku writers, and general public. In fact I included one verse that was purely a visual martial arts display by a young boy! I was also the very first person to have British Sign Language (and possibly in the world too) renga which played out in a packed out theatre, very exciting! 🙂
            .
            Kafka wrote about the machinations of bureaucracy and how devious it could be, so it was partly tongue in cheek. 🙂
            .

            Here’s a modern Japanese renku model that we tried for the first time:
            http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2013-issue36-2/renku.html
            .

          5. Or you could have two different types of audience — of insects and men?! 🙂
            .
            remaining insects…
            Kafka’s new audiences
            eat up the pages

          6. Hi Marion! 🙂
            .
            And of course humans carry lots of symbiotic creatures from our eyelashes to internal workings! 🙂
            .
            .
            First version:
            .
            .
            remaining insects…
            Kafka’s new audience
            eat up the pages
            .
            Alan Summers
            .
            .
            Second verse re ‘eats’
            .
            .
            .
            remaining insects…
            Kafka’s new audience
            eats up the pages
            .
            Alan Summers
            .
            .
            Third version with Marion’s help so it’s ‘audiences’ “plural” hence ‘eat’ is now correct, I hope! 🙂
            .
            .
            remaining insects…
            Kafka’s new audiences
            eat up the pages
            .
            Alan Summers
            with thanks to Marion Clarke! 🙂
            .
            .
            And of course Kafka will be read by utterly different audiences hundreds of years from now, from AI, new or evolved insects, augmented humans, Martians etc…! 🙂
            .
            Thanks Marion!!! 🙂

  6. morning glory
    seedpod bursts—the bitter
    sweet sixteen

    wendy c. bialek

    az, usa

    we still don’t know what caused a high school boy
    on the early morning of his sixteenth birthday
    to fire a hand-gun on his classmates and then himself
    (in yet another shooting) inside a California
    school a few days ago.

  7. Hi John, thanks for doing this again.

    .
    autumn deepens
    a crow becomes one
    with the night
    .
    .
    I know this verse doesn’t tick all the boxes as a hokku but I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of Paul MacNeil, among all the other things a regular contributor to Renku Sessions

    1. … and yet, these days Halloween is celebrated where I am, in spring. And Christmas has always been in December and Easter has always been in autumn for me (weird, I know, with all those bunnies and eggs it certainly doesn’t work symbolically for that time of year.)
      .
      – Lorin

  8. Joyful thanks that you’re bring9ing renku back, John.
    .

    dandelion puffs –
    the kettle on the boil
    to welcome blow-ins
    .

    – Lorin

    1. ah, Nancy. . . bushfires (USA ‘wildfires’) used to indicate summer. That was then. Now it is any and all seasons. Or, like war, is its own season.
      .
      – Lorin

  9. Good to ‘see’ you, John!
    .
    grinning pumpkins –
    a very large array
    points to the stars
    – Betty Shropshire

  10. Welcome back John and thanks for volunteering to lead another renku session.
    .
    a bottle of red
    thanksgiving dinner
    with mother-in-law
    .

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