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The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Week 19

renku_300

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this renku. You all made important contributions, whether you have a verse in the final work or not.

There were 128 offers for verse nineteen, from 24 poets. Dan Campbell is our selector this time and here is his report: 

“Many thanks to everyone who participated in week nineteen. I would like to thank John Stevenson for his guidance in reviewing the contributions. As a renku novice, I studied several guides last week on renku but it soon became clear that it would take more than two or three hours of study to fully understand this ancient and rather complex form of poetry.

One article that I especially enjoyed was John Carley’s last article as editor of Simply Haiku where he wrote that ‘renku is indeed reliant on the generative mechanism of “link and shift.” But it is also a dialogic entente characterized by mercurial mood changes and tangential associations. It is an art form which uses words, in all their gloriously synesthetic aspects.’

It was a pleasure to read the many excellent contributions and it was somewhat painful to limit the selections.

 

blowing soap bubbles
with a wand near the windmill

Michelle Beyers

 

the first warm day
makes us feel like a king 

Laurie Greer

 

an east wind
in the runway sock

Robert Kingston

 

a fine mist settles
on upturned soil 

Debbie Scheving

 

new sweetness
in the honeybees’ hum

Lorin Ford

 

the consolation
of a cool spring mist

M. R. Defibaugh

 

steady rain
soaks fresh plowed fields

Alfred Booth

 

clouds floating by overhead
on the east wind

Dana Rapisardi

 

And our final selection is:

 

a fine mist settles
on upturned soil 

Debbie Scheving

Debbie’s verse was selected because of its upbeat and positive tone. And it has not one, but two spring kigo, the mist and plowed soil. John described the link to my verse nineteen in this way, ‘Both verse involve something resting on something else. But the new verse adds an element of contrast. The chess board is a passive recipient of dogwood blossoms. But the tilled soil engages with the moisture in the air and creates the promise of new growth to come.’“

 

 

John speaking again:

Congratulations, Debbie and congratulations, everyone. We have now completed our renku. There is one remaining task – selection of a title. As a practical matter, we will probably keep the working title (all of the posts relating to this renku are tagged as “A Better Look”). But this does not preclude our exploration of other title options. A renku’s title is usually a phrase that appears within one of the verses, often but not always the first verse (hokku).

Here is the complete text of our new renku, which will be archived on The Haiku Foundation site: 

 

A Better Look  

 

dragonfly… 
hovering back 
for a better look 

John Stevenson 

 

the scarecrow’s hat 
skims across the pond     

Pauline O’Carolan 

 

moonrise 
finds the farm wife 
undoing her braids 

Ellen Compton 

 

the creak 
of the mailbox 

Angiola Inglese 

 

rising scent 
of bosc pears  
wrapped in cellophane 

Michelle Beyers 

 

his chiseled chin  
and my smooth thighs  

Wendy C. Bialek 

 

‘after Picasso 
only God’ 
said Dora Maar                                       

andrew shimield 

 

cat devouring 
a bird 

Kiti Saarinen 

 

fresh snowfall 
fills the tracks 
of a thief 

Carol Jones 

 

our train chugs into 
the station at the ski resort 

Maxianne Berger 

 

time was 
a cigarette commercial 
would feature here 

Lorin Ford 

 

the slow drawl 
of her favorite cowboy 

Marion Clarke  

 

westernizing 
the Kama Sutra 
with rope tricks 

Laurie Greer 

 

their summer house now 
her writer’s retreat 

Michael Henry Lee 

 

a solitary goldfish 
glitters 
in moonlight 

Nimi Arora 

 

red sun paints fire 
on burnt out rooms 

Jackie Maugh Robinson 

 

not a scratch 
on the baby 
grand piano 

Tracy Davidson 

 

carrying a pail  
of pollywogs  

Linda Weir 

 

dogwood blossoms
sprinkled on chessboards
in the park

Dan Campbell

 

a fine mist settles
on upturned soil 

Debbie Scheving

 

Please enter your suggestions for a title and any comments you may wish to make about your experience with this renku session, in the comments box, below. On Thursday, January 28, there will be a final posting in which I will comment on some of the title suggestions and on my own perspective in this session.

Looking forward to seeing your comments and title suggestions! 

John 

 

 

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://www.thehaikufoundation.org/code-of-conduct/ 

 

 

This Post Has 102 Comments

  1. a fine mist settles
    on upturned soil
    .

    Debbie Scheving
    .
    Congratulations, Debbie, and Dan , a fine choice. 🙂
    .
    Congratulations, too, to all of you who’re citizens of the USA, on the inauguration of your new President.
    .
    (I imagine that ceremony might have something to do with our verse #20 post appearing under the verse #19 header and the #19 thread remaining. )

  2. Congratulations, Dan, on a great verse. I enjoyed your comments a lot, Linda.
    .
    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    the crossword abandoned
    to follow his new kite

    1. Oops. Late is what happens when you can’t quite capture that illusive phrase. Thanks for this lovely renku experience, everyone.

  3. the tranquil distraction
    of soap bubbles

    the sudden draw
    to soap bubbles

    *
    the unseen notation
    of soap bubbles

  4. as if the maypole’s spiraling ribbons
    didn’t sail across the milky way

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

  5. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    the kids excited
    by an easter egg hunt
    *
    the long day ends
    with a riverside walk

  6. .
    .
    a busker’s bow
    the length of the day
    .
    the jazz inherent
    in the balmy breeze
    .
    a c-note
    holds off the spring rain
    .
    still the overture of a nightingale
    threads civil twilight
    .
    .

  7. Congrats Dan – I love the image of chess in the park, and thanks Linda for your insightful commentary, and consideration of my verse.
    .
    .
    trusty steeds
    shod in nike’s promise
    .
    the knights who say ni
    part the shrubbery
    .
    the herring inherent
    in the red tide
    .
    .
    Sorry not sorry 😉 had to get it out of my system.

  8. sorry for the numerous posts but for some reason my 2 lines came up as three. Also, the color ‘red’ has been mentioned:

    untangling a kite from a
    tall tree by the tennis court

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

    1. 2 lines:

      untangling a red kite from a tall tree
      by the tennis courts

      Michelle Beyers
      Copyright © 1/18/21

  9. soft breeze lifting one soap
    bubble blown with a wand

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

    ***

    balmy breeze lifting one soap
    bubble blown with a wand

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

    ***

    soft breeze lifting a soap bubble
    blown with a wand

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

    ***

    balmy breeze lifting a soap bubble
    blown with a wand

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

  10. blowing soap bubbles
    with a wand near the windmill

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

    ***

    blowing bubbles
    with a wand by the windmill

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/18/21

  11. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    a footprint in the sand
    back the way I came

    1. … also, verse 1 (hovering) “back for a better look”
      .
      That said, I once saw what looked like a single bicycle tyre track in the sand going up a steep sandhill that no bicycle could possibly go up. I believe I went back from where I started at Olympic speed.
      .

  12. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    our shadows cross
    without hello or goodbye

  13. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    wind through the railings
    whispers my name

  14. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    a V of snow geese
    entering a cloud
    .

  15. Verse 7:

    spring rain begins
    so the players slowly disperse

    Verse 8:

    now the swings are empty
    but the children will be back

  16. Congrats Dan, on your verse, and being the final selector this session. I have enjoyed reading the variety of input these past weeks.
    *
    snowmelt trickles
    along the curb
    *
    reeling in
    the string of a kite
    *
    a fine mist settles
    on upturned soil

  17. A very nice verse, Dan. I want a dogwood tree for my garden; they are beautiful. Thank you for choosing it, Linda.

    Verse 1:

    we pack up our picnic
    and serenely drift away

    Verse 2:

    one last flourish
    of light snow

    Verse 3:

    as the day lingers
    we follow the crazy paving

    Verse 4:

    just like a baptism
    in warm oil

    Verse 5:

    our sins washed away
    by the spray

    Verse 6:

    quiet after
    spring thunder

  18. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    .
    Linda Weir
    .
    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    after all the twittering
    this welcome peace

  19. and a general question about flowers .. throughout we’ve been reminded not to use flowers because there would be an upcoming blossom verse .. and then for the blossom verse, it was suggested that tree flowers are preferable because of the tradition .. so when and where and how are flowers that grow on the ground or on bushes ever able to *be* in a renku? sorry to appear detailishly-focused, but .. well .. it would be really nice to be able to have other flowers .. even dandelions ..

    1. Longer renku have multiple “blossom verses.” Also, the hokku might have a blossom in it and this would not preclude later blossom verses. But this twenty-verse format has only the one blossom verse.

      1. Thanks, John .. I suspected that length would have something to do with it .. as it does, too, for the insect question I also had which, thanks for following up to that, too. If it were a 100-verse renku, there’d be room, here and there, for some categories to appear more than once .. I’m very motivated by constraints, so love the challenge of renku .. along with the community ☺ ..

  20. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    announcing a final gambit
    to find the true conch…
    *
    joined in a final gambit
    to retrieve the true conch
    *

  21. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    no defense against the charm
    of rainbow bubbles
    *
    dazzling the rank and file
    with a rare queen conch
    *
    making his move to entice
    a rare queen conch
    *

  22. shadows on the stone
    soft winds on the move

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/17/21

    ***

    bright shadows on the stone
    soft winds on the move

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/17/21

  23. Congratulations to Dan. As always, I enjoy your cerses and, as an avid chess player, I found it unique to appear with dogwood blossoms! Great choice, Linda!

    I just have a quick question about this line, perhaps John or someone can clarify, as I have seen renga here where a single poet has appeared at least twice in the same renga.

    “Here are my favorites from poets already included in the renku and thus not up for consideration as the final selected verse.” If a verse is good and best fits the renga, is it “not up for consideration?”

    thanks in advance for clarifying.

    1. sorry for typos
      *verses not cerces

      also, renku is preferred term over renga (although on purely aesthetic terms I love the term renga as it sounds more like song and dance😉)

    2. One of my goals with this feature is to offer experiences with a variety of English-language renku styles. Elements of style involve more than aesthetics. In this particular renku, I am giving social considerations equal weight and one manifestation of that is inclusiveness. With twenty verses at our disposal, I wish to have twenty poets included in the final work – and as many as possible included in the creative process, along the way.

  24. *this from the worldkigo2005.blogspot
    shell-drawing wind (kaiyose 貝寄風,貝寄) west wind of late March or early April
    On February 22 of the lunar calendar, there was a festival at the temple Tenoo-Ji in Osaka. People used to collect shells which the wind had brought to the shores and use them as an offering to the gods. It is usually a western seasonal wind and rather strong.

    our next play guided by
    shell-drawing winds

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/17/21

  25. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    **
    steady rain
    soaks fresh plowed fields

  26. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell

    barely spring and
    the harlequin’s tethered smile

    an east wind
    in the runway sock

  27. Congratulations to Dan! And to Linda, thank you for noting my offering for verse 19. I must confess that my inspiration was not Moritake but another poem of my own, written years ago after looking down from a second storey onto some dogwood trees. The four-fold structure of the bracts made me think of butterflies, unmoving and unable to fly away (it was a somewhat depressing poem.) But I am glad an allusion to great poetry could be discovered in my verse, in the tradition of the classic Japanese renga, even if in my case it was just a “happy accident.”
    ***

    My final offerings for our renku:
    ***

    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    ~ Dan Campbell
    ***

    under an umbrella
    the game goes on
    ***

    clouds floating by overhead
    on the east wind
    ***

    no running for cover
    from such soft rain
    ***

    making a game of
    dodging raindrops

  28. thanks for your continued guidance, john.
    *
    looks like you had a great time selecting and commenting….love your final pick, too….linda
    *
    this verse makes me happy, dan and brings back many wonderful memories
    of central park in the 70s. very deserving of this honour and standing in renku.

    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    *
    sitting in the middle
    of a swing

    1. sorry, dan…. i got my parks confused….
      it was washington square park, in greenwich village!

      soap bubbles land
      on dalmation spots
      *
      soap bubbles en passant
      in washington square
      *
      reclaiming hand mower
      from corner pawnshop

  29. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    new sweetness
    in the honeybees’ hum
    .

  30. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    a plate of fairy bread
    for the picnic
    .
    the final piece
    of fairy bread
    .
    skipping home
    from the picnic
    .
    skipping home
    with a trophy
    .
    a southerly blows
    our fairy bread away

  31. Congrats, Dan! A serene verse during such turmoil–what is our endgame?

    opening
    his pink umbrella

    tranquil songs
    take flight

    the consolation
    of a cool spring mist

    the homeless man’s smile
    a little warmer too

    a few moves ahead
    of the last snowfall

    every swing
    no longer empty

    spring winds asking
    what is our endgame

    a butterfly suggests
    my next move

    a child’s windwheel
    many colors

    no strategy for
    these still lingering days

    1. hi M. R. just to say that one of your proposals really speaks to me …
      *
      a butterfly suggests
      my next move
      *
      to me, this is especially brilliant on a zillion levels .. obviously, “my next move” links to the chess board .. and butterfly is a spring kigo .. the freedom of the butterfly, as transferred to the I-persona, opens up the renku to going beyond its final verse .. and here is where I’m no expert .. it seems to me that along with a strong moving beyond, there is, simultaneously, a circling back to the beginning .. because of the dragonfly .. John, can the ageku link to the hokku in this way?
      *
      anyway, a lovely bouquet!

      1. ” . . . it seems to me that along with a strong moving beyond, there is, simultaneously, a circling back to the beginning .. because of the dragonfly .. John, can the ageku link to the hokku in this way?” – Maxianne
        .
        An insightful observation and a most interesting question, Maxianne. I look forward to John’s response.
        .

    2. Thanks, Maxianne! I had the same thought, and I’m not sure, but I think, if it weren’t the final verse, the inclusion would be a serious problem. My understanding is that the ageku could link back in that way. Maybe a type of butterfly would be more subtle, though.

      a monarch suggests
      my next move

      a fluttering monarch
      evokes my next move

      a swallowtail suggests
      my next move

      a monarch
      resting her wings

      1. so I just reread John’s indications for the final verse, and (missed this the first time [sigh]) he definitely states that we should be “especially careful not to draw our attention back to verse one or verse eighteen.” I guess that means no insects .. [sigh] .. too bad, because the flitting nature of a butterfly seems so freeing.

        1. Right. With a dragonfly in the hokku, we will not want another insect in the ageku (final verse). All of your other comments, however – about the tone of this offer for our final verse – are right on the money.

          1. Oh, I should have read the instructions a little more carefully, too (Sorry, John!)…Not sure how we both missed it lol…What I assumed maybe only applies to more traditional length renku? Now, trying to think of an appropriate substitution for a butterfly, if possible–as well as a few more verses.

            a skylark suggests
            my next move

            a nightingale suggesting
            my next move

            a tranquil breeze mirrors
            my next move

            the path to victory
            never more serene

            spring being our
            consolation prize

            spring celebrates
            our sacrifices

            spring cleaning
            brings peace of mind

  32. butterflies comb
    a bright day

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/16/21

    ***

    our song combs
    a bright day a day

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/16/21

  33. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    .
    Linda Weir
    .
    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    in-breath after out-breath
    all the tranquil day
    .

      1. Thanks, Michelle. 🙂 Coming back to it I wonder if the flow might be less awkward if “after” was simply omitted?
        .
        in-breath out-breath
        all the tranquil day

        1. I love it both ways but i think omitting “after” picks up the rhythm more fluidly. It’s a nice happy verse to end a renku😊

  34. Congratulations for the selected verse. It is always insightful to read the comments. Thanks on reflecting on my submission too (sooooo honoured!). Ok, let’s give it a try, with the followings for verse 20:

    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park (Dan Campbell)
    *
    city workers installing
    a canopy of 1001 umbrellas
    *
    enjoying the first bite
    taken on the terrasse
    *
    trafic stopped
    by the town’s parade
    *
    jam of djembe
    back again
    *
    reflecting on sandals
    and mismatched socks
    *

    1. And more here:
      *
      selfies taken
      under 101 umbrellas
      *
      the tour bus stopping
      for the new graffitis
      *
      a tour guide’s flag
      above the crowd
      *

  35. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    dubbing each other knights
    with turritella shells
    *
    young knights errant go forth
    waving turritella shells

  36. Thanks for mentioning my haiku Linda. When I wrote it, I imagined it as a single phrase, but now I see that it is indeed a haiku not a renku! Sigh! I guess that is why we re-read and edit! I’ll try to do better on my last offering. But I do have to think about it!

    1. Peggy, I’m not so sure your verse in question is actually a haiku. It’s the cut in haiku (and in renku, only the hokku has a cut) that makes the difference, imo, and I can’t find a cut in this verse:
      .
      an old postcard
      of the cherry blossom festival
      (is) hand colored
      .
      Such verbs as ‘is’ are often omitted from both haiku and renku verses. Readers become used to filling them in. They don’t indicate a cut.
      .
      What would disqualify this verse from a ‘blossom’ spot would be that it isn’t a blossom verse but a ‘photograph’ (or ‘postcard’) verse. Literally, of course, there is no such designation as a ‘postcard’ verse, I’m just using this as a way to say that the subject of your verse is a postcard/photograph, while what was called for was a verse on the subject of blossom/s.
      .
      We couldn’t have a verse about the book ‘Love Story’ as a ‘love’ verse in a renku.
      .
      I hope this is a helpful clarification.

  37. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    discarded starter trays
    tumble in the breeze
    *
    discarded starter trays
    cartwheel in the breeze
    *

  38. Congratulations Dan, on such an artfully crafted verse.. Linda, what a perfect choice and I so enjoyed your insightful comments.
    .
    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    .
    sylvan gathering for
    renewal of spring vows
    .
    annual mind games
    on Buddha’s birthday
    .
    the Lyrids* peak with a
    promise of yet more shows
    .
    *annual meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26

      1. Thank you, Peggy☺️. Despite the well stated exceptions, you had me at ‘old postcard’. I love them; the older the better. They developed a patina over the years of handling and world travel that’s almost iridescent. Your verse was a favorite of mine too.

  39. he checks
    the shells she gathers
    *
    the diagonal
    cut of the east wind
    *
    the Queen
    picks her favourite tea

  40. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    all the right moves
    for a Maypole break dance
    *

  41. dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    every treasure retrieved
    from the corner pawn shop
    *

  42. Congratulations Dan a well crafted verse indeed
    *****************************************************************
    a spring rain threatens to
    confound our next move
    *********************************
    tranquility abashed by
    some guy on a soap box
    *********************************
    pawns of the thin mist
    that haunt us all

  43. Congratulations, Dan and kudos for a lovely choice, Linda. I agree that this is a truly evocative verse. It takes me back to ’68, and Richard Harris singing ‘MacArthur Park’. and the “old men playing checkers (or chess) . . .” .
    .
    Thanks for noting those two of mine, I’m truly honoured.
    .
    Linda, re the “stationary butterflies” in Dana Rapisardi’s verse that you comment on:
    “. . . I also enjoy the echo to past haiku in this poem as I don’t recall whether it is Issa, Buson, or Basho, but at least one had a poem with such interplay. ”
    .
    Most likely Basho and/or Buson, imo, and I reckon either or both would’ve been alluding to Arakida Moritake’s
    .
    A fallen blossom
    returning to the bough, I thought —
    But no, a butterfly.
    (Translation by Steven D. Carter)
    .
    Anyway, I think it’s possible that Dana may be alluding to the famous Moritake haiku, too, as was Ezra Pound in his “At a Station of the Metro”.

  44. Nice one, Dan .. I used to spend a day a week with my grandmother when I was very little, and we always went to the park. I remember watching the old men (to me, they were old) playing chess .. and shuffleboard .. your verse sure brought back memories ☺
    **
    Linda, thank you for your engaging analysis .. and for pausing on mine ..
    **
    and now, to think of some springy fun ageku I can propose as tbc in your thoughts ☺
    be well, all ..

  45. Thank you Linda, I enjoyed reading your reviews and comments on the verses. John, I will be glad to be a selector but please HELP!!!

  46. Very helpful explication Linda and nicely done, Dan! Couldn’t help but think of The Queen’s Gambit reading your verse.

  47. Wonderful selection , Linda, and illuminating comments.
    Congratulations, Dan, on a vivid and rich verse!
    *
    dogwood blossoms
    sprinkled on chessboards
    in the park
    *
    Dan Campbell
    *
    the long warm days
    make us feel like a king
    *

    1. or this sounds less like summer and more like spring:
      *
      dogwood blossoms
      sprinkled on chessboards
      in the park
      *
      Dan Campbell
      *
      the first warm day
      makes us feel like a king
      *

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