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The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Wrap

renku_300

Thank you for your title suggestions and comments. As I explained last week, we will be keeping “A Better Look” as the title of this renku. And several of you noted that this would be your choice, independently of any technical considerations.

One “technical” reason that I haven’t mentioned before, about choosing a word or phrase from the first verse (hokku), is that the movement within a renku is forward. Always forward. So, if the title occurs somewhere after the first verse, our attention may be drawn back to the title when we encounter that word or phrase later. And if the title is something that doesn’t appear anywhere in the renku, we will still feel the drag of our expectation that it may be in the next verse as we read along.

All the same, it is possible to use a phrase from later in the renku. And, even if we do not do so, it can be fun to look for phrases that might serve in this way.

Among those you have suggested, I am particularly fond of:

“the scarecrow’s hat”

“rising scent”

“a pail of polliwogs”

“(A Pail of) Pollywogs”

In addition, I find the following phrases potentially resonant as titles:

“cigarette commercial”

“the slow drawl”

“rope tricks”

“solitary goldfish”

“not a scratch”

“chessboards”

“upturned earth”

 

I had planned to take a complete break for a couple of months at this point. The months of February through the first half of April are a particularly busy time for me in my role as managing editor of The Heron’s Nest. But the comments from several of you about how this feature is a positive creative outlet in a time when it is most needed have caused me to look for a middle way.

What I’ve come up with is a simplified way of keeping this going until I can once again turn my full attention to a new renku session.

Tan-renga is a short linking form, involving two verses, by two poets. Here is some additional information about it: http://www.graceguts.com/essays/introduction-to-tan-renga

As Michael Dylan Welch says in this Graceguts post, “The word “tan” simply means “short,” so a tan-renga is a short renga—just two verses. The two-line capping verse responds to or turns on the three-line starting verse, thus making a new whole, creating something similar to the 1,300-year-old form of waka (known today as tanka). A key technique is to link and shift with each response verse, adding something at a right-angle to the preceding verse, yet still connected, whether emotionally, tonally, or in some other creative way.” (emphasis added)

So, I will offer three lines and invite you to offer candidates for a two-line response verse. I will highlight and comment briefly on some of the offers next week. I will then invite participants to offer three-line verses during the following week, from which I will choose one to begin another round. And we will continue in this way until I am able to devote my full attention to a longer renku (probably in mid-April).

Here is my first three-line offer:

wind beaten marquee
saying only
“coming soon”

John Stevenson
Some of the Silence (1999)

Please use the comments box, below, to enter your two-line “capping” verses. I will review offers that arrive before midnight on Monday, February 2 (New York time zone). On Thursday, February 4, there will be a new posting in which I will comment on some of the two-line “capping” verse offers and issue an invitation for three-line verses we might use for a new round of tan-renga.

Looking forward to seeing your capping verse suggestions!

John

This Post Has 119 Comments

  1. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    the second round
    of shots

    (c) 2/01/2021 by wendy c. bialek

    the day they stop
    showing pricks on tv

    (c) 1/31/2021 by wendy c. bialek

    the long overdue
    refrigerated trailer

    (c) 1/30/3031 by wendy c. bialek

  2. frozen overalls hanging
    on the ice-coated clothesline
    *
    lost penguin
    marching in the wind
    *
    hen-pecked husband
    whispering “if only”

  3. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    the demon barber
    sharpening his razor

  4. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    wayfaring arrows
    of robin hood

    (c) 1/31/2021 by wendy c. bialek

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    updated list
    of the living

    (c) 1/31/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  5. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    applause for a climbing star
    who fell in love with the moon

    (c) 1/30/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  6. Thank you, John, for offering the tan-renga option as we transition from the latest renku.
    .
    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    John Stevenson
    .
    sounds of laughter
    from a tavern tent
    .
    the clear notes
    of a lone bugle

  7. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    just a frog and moon
    and tabula rasa

    Michelle Beyers

    1. wind beaten marquee
      saying only
      “coming soon”

      john stevenson

      a frog, a moon
      and tabula rasa

      Michelle Beyers

  8. wind beaten marquee

    saying only

    “ coming soon “

    John Stevenson

    ***
    crescent moon

    can’t wait to see you

  9. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    flashing neon sign
    wash, fold, dry open

    Michelle Beyers

  10. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    just the glint
    of a silvery moon

    Michelle Beyers

  11. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    just a raven
    singing in the rain

    Michelle Beyers

  12. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    solely a lark
    frolicking in the dark

    Michelle Beyers

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    nothing but a lark
    frolicking in the dark

    Michelle Beyers

  13. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon” 

    John Stevenson
    **
    **
    retrospectives
    of dying art forms
    **
    finding tumbleweed
    in nursery rhymes
    **
    business for a new
    red light district

  14. My immense gratitude to John for finding a middle way. I much appreciate his generous heart! I’m already really enjoying tan-renga.
    ***

    I’m posting John’s verse before each of my offerings for the capping verse, for (I’m hopeful) best effect.
    ***

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    ~John Stevenson
    *
    let the congregation
    text “amen”
    ************

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    ~John Stevenson
    *
    should have made that left turn
    at Albuquerque
    ************

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    ~John Stevenson
    *
    where were you the day
    the earth stood still?

  15. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    sure-footed mannequins
    launch hazmat couture

    (c) 1/31/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  16. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    . —John Stevenson

    billowed sails on a
    new hope tack
    ….
    ship of state anchored
    in a tranquil harbor

    no flotsam jetsam wreckage
    this courageous ship of state

  17. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    —John Stevenson

    the bough breaks
    upon every shore

  18. What a mind swirlinging elixir, John. Thank you for being our muse.

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    —John Stevenson

    truth be told
    it’s here right now

    laughter in the sun
    cotton candy lips

    in vista vision
    a new beginning

    age of reason
    redux

  19. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson
    *
    the shadow play
    of a woodpecker

    (c) 1/30/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  20. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    lonely streets and
    wet black boughs

    Michelle Beyers

  21. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    John Stevenson
    .
    the street singer’s
    Bye Bye Love
    .
    Ellen Compton

      1. Thank you, Pauline. I removed myself from all social media abruptly but it was necessary. I am much better.

  22. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    again glancing up at where
    the stars used to be
    *
    passers by merely extras
    in the ongoing dramas
    *

  23. foreclosure sign
    flapping in the wind
    *
    breezes play sonatinas
    on maple trees
    *
    help needed sign
    on the liquor store window

  24. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    nothing for it but the next how-to
    video on YouTube
    *
    killing time with made-up stories
    about the passers by
    *
    killing time telling stories
    about the passers by
    *

  25. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    wistful for the familiar company
    of the office

  26. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    John Stevenson
    .
    scent of ramen
    from the noodle shop
    .
    Ellen Compton

  27. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    the misty moon
    comes to mind and yet

    Michelle Beyers

  28. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    here and there a play
    of light on the banyan

    Michelle Beyers

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    here and there glints
    of sunset on the banyan

    Michelle Beyers

  29. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    -“coming soon”

    sazanka
    your scent smelled every time i took a sip

    *******
    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    gloves
    me still waiting in the hidden booth

    ***

  30. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    a night without you
    feels longer

    ******
    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    where does it fly
    my comfort butterfly

    ****

  31. Thank you, John, for devising a fill-in for us, to keep us happily creating until the next full renku.

    Covid killed
    small business

    boxer wiping blood
    from his eyes

    she cradles
    the unborn

    orange blossom
    in her bouquet

  32. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    the movies I remember
    those I forget
    .
    some movies I remember
    some I forget

  33. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    how we always looked forward
    to the previews the most
    *

  34. I can’t get this one out of my mind, so I figure that I might as well get it out, just for fun 😉

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    John Stevenson
    Some of the Silence (1999)
    **********

    but who knew
    Scarlett had fake ID ?

    (and that is why she is gone with the wind and definitely -not- coming soon…)

  35. round trip ticket
    for the first swallow

    ***************************
    in the frosty night
    a plastic sheet on the geraniums

  36. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    emovies without
    a kernel of truth

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    proud hands turn pages
    of the capitol pop-up book

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  37. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    John Stevenson
    .
    next in the queue
    at the ramen shop
    .
    Ellen Compton

  38. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    grafitti on a white wall
    the end is near

    Michelle Beyers

    1. wind beaten marquee
      saying only
      “coming soon”

      john stevenson

      grafitti on a white wall
      the end is near

      Michelle Beyers

  39. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    announcing the latest extension
    of the engagement
    *
    the latest announcement
    of an extended engagement
    *
    an old refrigerator magnet
    still saving the date
    *

  40. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    the telltale gold spots
    of a monarch chrysalis

    theybe goes viral
    with a mum’s TikTok

    QAnon on
    terra firma

  41. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    John Stevenson
    Some of the Silence (1999)

    *****
    line up rush
    for the morning show (er)
    *****
    nurse waiting
    for a urine sample
    *****
    fast and furious
    plates fly from the chef
    *****
    a r.s.v.p letter
    without a stamp
    *****
    A r.s.v.p. letter
    without a stamp yet
    *****

  42. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    john stevenson
    .
    a dancing elephant
    in the bar room window
    .

  43. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    .
    John Stevenson
    .
    the Dear John letter
    floating away
    .

  44. new wrinkles
    in the model’s cleavage
    *
    the wedding party
    blown away by “I don’t”
    *
    she wields her scalpel
    on his leaky bowel

  45. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    blue silhouette
    of us alone

    Michelle Beyers

  46. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    yet howling wolf moon
    streams I am desire

    Michelle Beyers

    1. wind beaten marquee
      saying only
      “coming soon”

      john stevenson

      howling wolf moon
      streams I desire

      Michelle Beyers

  47. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    memory alone echoing
    jazz of you on wet black boughs

    Michelle Beyers

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    memory alone echoing jazz of you streaming these empty streets

    Michelle Beyers

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    memory alone echoing
    the jazz of you

    Michelle Beyers

  48. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    apparitions on wet black boughs streaming alone these empty streets

    Michelle Beyers

    1. wind beaten marquee
      saying only
      “coming soon”

      john stevenson

      apparitions on wet black boughs streaming alone these empty streets

      Michelle Beyers

  49. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    jazz of you echoing in rain
    droplets on wet black boughs

    Michelle Beyers

  50. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    jazz of rain droplets on
    wet black boughs alone

    Michelle Beyers

  51. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    a gull’s cry echoing
    in these empty streets

    Michelle Beyers

  52. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson
    violet apparitions streaming
    through these empty streets

    Michelle Beyers

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    blue apparitions streaming
    through these empty streets

    Michelle Beyers

  53. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    John Stevenson
    .

    the sheer abandon
    of their pas de deux
    .
    Marietta McGregor

  54. her parent’s sequel
    dose of pfizer vaccine

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

    *

    the late sequelae
    of covid-19

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  55. What a capitol idea! John thanks as always for all you do
    *********************
    we the people
    of a lesser god
    *******************
    behold
    a white horse
    *****************.
    badip badip
    that’s all folks

  56. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    a sun that melts
    these imprisoning icicles

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  57. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    a million metaphors
    for kabuki theater

    (c) 1/29/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  58. wind beaten marquee
    says only
    ‘coming soon’
    — John Stevenson

    another child born
    at the refuge camp site
    — Carol Jones

  59. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    a quick trailer
    for the next mutant

    (c) 1/28/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  60. Wendy C. Bialek
    January 28, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    a batman band aid
    to cover the ouch

    (c) 1/28/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  61. a wind beaten marquee
    says only
    “coming soon”
    *
    yet there’s comfort in recalling
    Scarlett’s last words

      1. apologies for my confusing syntax in that comment. Not that comfort is not there .. it is there .. that is my intended point ..
        “isn’t there” was meant to be an exclamatory tag ..
        [sigh]

  62. what a fabulous, fun game! john!
    ready to tan-renga!

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”      – john stevenson

    vials of vaccines
    promised to reel in virus

    (c) 1/28/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  63. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    curtains drawn
    at the ticket taker’s house
    *
    left to graffiti artists
    to play the role of critics
    *
    just about dark enough
    to see the stars align
    *

  64. This is fab, John, thank you.

    wind beaten marquee
    says only
    ‘coming soon’
    — John Stevenson

    veg shop on the corner
    selling sprouts half price
    — Carol Jones

  65. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”
    *
    watching the street mime
    while he waits for the bus
    *
    her fancy dress wardrobe
    consigned to the thrift shop
    *

  66. Thank you so much for this, John! Just what I need today.
    **
    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “Coming soon”
    *
    forwarding address lost
    in the black hole of her handbag
    *
    a technical knockout
    by anyone’s count
    *

  67. how fun! thank you for keeping us engaged, John ..

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”                                        – john stevenson
    when did they shutter
    the bowling alley?                                – Maxianne

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”                                        – john stevenson
    grandpa’s haberdashery
    was just around the corner         — Maxianne

    wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”                                        – john stevenson
    the kids in the back seat
    singing, are we there yet?             — Maxianne

  68. wind beaten marquee
    saying only
    “coming soon”

    john stevenson

    purplelightningflash!
    penetrating the raven’s moon

    Michelle Beyers

    1. Yes – “fairly free” – though the length is a factor if it seems to throw the completed tan-renga off balance without appropriate compensation. What is “appropriate compensation?” That is entirely subjective. I don’t know. I just hope I’ll know it if I see it (and know it if I don’t see it).

      1. John,

        I have to withdraw my purple lightning verse. I thought it would be too much (actually, I personally love it with your poem) but I wrote it before your verse came up for linkedin and I posted it there in a different format, took it down and put it back up. Anyway thank you for inspiring its current form though I must withdraw.

  69. Thank you, John, for all you do. I look forward to learning all about tanka! ps. truthfully, I always loved the title “A Better Look,” which is why I only offered a subtitle. I you were asking for suggestions but a better look is perfect for hinting of a mosaic multiverse renku😎 Thank you again for sticking with us though we know you are busy🤗

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