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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 1

renkuchainGreetings and welcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Fourth Renku Session: a day of snow. I am Marshall Hryciuk of Toronto Canada and i will be the leader for a 36-link kasen renku. I’ve led over 40 of these linked-poem gatherings over the past 20 years and my latest book, out from catkin press of Carleton Place, Canada is a selection of 15 of them, called petals in the dark.

Now, though you can get your saijikis out and use them for inspiration or reference, they probably won’t help you have a link included since i don’t consult any. When i specify a season, what i’m looking for is seasonality, not any particular word; and just as i believe that poetry is what happens between words, i believe seasonality, like sexuality compared to ‘sex’, is a matter of process in context rather than a specific attribute. And the seasonality here will always be one adherent to the northern hemisphere, temperate portion, with the four cardinal seasons and a fifth, New Year’s, added for spice.

Ideally, a link should both link and shift. I like to think of each new verse as a magic lamp that casts a light back on the previous step and gives it a different angle or slant of meaning while also foreshadowing by maintaining an openness to the next step and thereby allowing the shift to happen, somewhat like an undulating coil. I also feel the whole renku as a roundabout; 18 links out, 18 back in and an attempt at a mandala, a microcosm of the universe. Grand aims i know, and probably grandiose enough a statement of them for now. Meanwhile, can’t wait to see what you’ll contribute to link with this hokku of mine:

Here is the verse you must link to:

a day of snow
no one else
has come to the door

    –Marshall Hryciuk

So what we need now is two lines, in winter, preferably outdoors. You have until Midnight (Toronto Time) next Tuesday, March 22 to submit your offers. Please enter them in the comment section, below. Happy linking!

Marshall

This Post Has 224 Comments

    1. hi lee -nice and brief ‘ground-stroke’ but i want something more substantial to give us a ‘lift-off’ for our renku

    1. hi Aalix -nice ‘ground-stroke’ -doesn’t feel substantial enough for the wakiku

  1. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    – Marshall Hryciuk

    **

    counting my strides
    between birches

    – Sandra Simpson

    1. hi Sandra -well, this is an improvement to an earlier submission, but now it just seems winterless

    1. hi Alan -this stays with a visual focus and I don’t want to do that with the wakiku

    1. nice matching of sound and sight, Christopher -and it has a motion that could be calm yet continuous -a bit close to a tongue twister for me for the wakiku, though -thanks

    2. the cold breath
      of jay caws
      .
      But I much prefer the crows, and the three ‘c’ sounds that evoke their caws.

    1. hi Maria -I wanted more shift here -this one, with its nioce energy keeps us visual and in the snow

    1. hi Joel -the moon’s here in number 5 -though don’t submit this as it would be an attempt to ‘link back’

      1. red on red -a nice touch, Judt -I much prefer your one of the coyote, though

  2. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~ Marshall Hryciuk
    ***
    bison beard-ice thickening
    with each snort and sweep

    1. hi Betty – a real kick to this one -‘bison beard-ice’ a little too much for a solemn first 6

    1. I guess this is winter, Carol, but it could be any season, really -need a wintry winter link

    1. hi p j -this one’s too violent for the first 6 -plus ‘welcome mat’ is pretty much implied by the hokku

    1. hi Maxianne -well, this one would definitely go in the ‘surrealiste section’ -even has a slant rhyme and a ‘black’ to offset the hokku’s unstated white -but this kind of wordplay not out of the question after the first 6 -good to hear from you, Maxianne

      1. hi Marshall .. was thinking of the little black poodle, never properly groomed, bounding through the snow .. as dogs do .. and he looked like a black mop with a demon inside 😉 .. maxianne happy just to be at the table and to follow suit ..

    1. hi lee -i sometimes take my direction for the next season’s choice from the ‘no season’ link previous -and sometimes i take ideas from the links that suggest a separate interest from mine -perhaps we should have a sequence of ‘humourous links’ -2 or 3, in this renku -thanks

    1. hi Marilyn -very nice link, except that by itself, it could be in any season; probably most ‘seasonal’ in summer

      1. Hi Marshall,
        Your comment raises the interesting question of how we read the verses. If, for instance, we *know* the wakiku has the same season as the hokku then ‘woodsmoke’ (to my mind) automatically means a fire for heating/warming – not someone burning orchard prunings. I’d like to know if you think that the seasonal framing of the renku influences our reading of the individual verses. Whether a verse can have more than one meaning but becomes anchored by the season position in which it appears?
        Many thanks,
        Sandra

    1. very nice, Judt -you and several others are making it very difficult to choose -thanks

    1. hi again, Judt -not really that close to the lack of footsreps at the door in my hokku -but too close for me –and having ‘sunlight’ when 3 links later will have the moon (which i realize you couldn’t know of) just makes this doubly ‘over the line” of ‘too close’

    1. yeah, no; not the moon just yet, Judt -first moon’s verse will be number 5 in this renku

    1. hi Judt -i like this for its sound -and in a way it repeats, with deference to a Japanese-signifying fruit the open-ended generosity of our linking here in words. Not so much for here, but i may keep this one later for a ‘no particular-season link’ -thanks

  3. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~ Marshall Hryciuk
    ***
    its humming barely heard
    the next chairlift after this

    1. this is good too, Betty, something substantial to dig into -and it includes a continuing motion -thanks

  4. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~Marshall Hryciuk
    **

    the smile of a vendor
    grilling corn cobs
    – Jayashree Maniyil

    1. very original, Jayashree, in that it is intensely urban -going to have to think this one over -for instance, the first line slant-rhymes with the last line of the hokku: ‘door’ /’ vendor’ but, thanks

  5. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~Marshall Hryciuk
    **

    frayed edges of a beanie
    catching the sun
    -Jayashree Maniyil

    1. hi Jatashree -this has an image similar to the dog’s tail above the shovelled-snow line -but if you didn’t have the first verse, you’d have no idea the seasonality was winter

      1. No worries! Thanks for the feedback though, Marshall.
        I assumed beanie would be something that one used only during winter.

        Warmly
        jayashree

    1. hi Paul -yeah, this just has too much re-definition of the hokku. Not only ‘linking back’ but restatement is something i strive to avoid in the renku i lead (though i am not always completely successful)

    1. nice evocation here, Paul, just the ‘chips/landing’ repeats the snow’s process in ‘a day of snow’

    1. this is very good, too, Christopher -glad you kept the ‘aboard’ -it’s going to be difficult to choose just one link (but i will choose just one and several of you should not feel in any way slighted by my choice -thanks, Christopher

    1. nice ‘ground-stroke’, Polona, but a little too light for the wakiku of the renku I want this to be

  6. the muffled distance
    between hoot owls
    .
    Quite a challenge to shift away from ‘a day of snow’ yet still be outside in the middle of it ; )

    1. well, Christopher, i think you’re up to the challenge with this one -i’ll keep it around, thanks

    1. moons and moon-images have their special places within a renku -i’m saving the first appearance here for verse 5

  7. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~Marshall Hryciuk
    **

    palms surround
    my takeaway coffee
    –Jayashree Maniyil

    1. a little too orchestrated for the first 6; if what you mean is the coffee is so warm and welcome it’s like a holiday away from winter

  8. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    ~Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .

    from both coat pockets
    a scent of roasted chestnuts
    .
    – Sandra Simpson
    .
    And that’s it from me for the wakiku. Your comment further down the page that your poem wasn’t written as a hokku is illuminating. It’s been quite a task you’ve set us!

    1. no, ‘white’ is too close and your re-defining the image of the hokku -which should be avoided

    1. Not here, Patrick -rare words are reserved for the ‘development’ parts of the renku -between links 7 and 28 -sorry, I don’t know what a ‘Hui-k’o’ is

  9. [a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door]
    sprinkled sunlight
    through the window

    1. Thanks, Marilyn -here’s one that makes me shiver with winter, thanks -definitely look at this one again

    1. first line is very nice -stii hav trouble with the autumnal leaves however

  10. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    ~Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .

    half-way into the woodpile
    the odour of living trees
    .
    – Sandra Simpson

    1. this is good Sandra -but i think it improves if you leave out ‘living’ -and i think there might be a more appropriate word than ‘half-way’ though it does work up the rhythm -thanks, i’ll keep this one around

    1. hi Patrick -this sounds like Zeus on Valentine’s Day when he’s run out of bolts -the search for a link doesn’t have to be that difficult

  11. a snow day
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~ Marshall Hryciuk
    ***
    between mountains
    the distant cry of a hawk

    1. are you a teacher, Betty? not a ‘snow day’ -it’s “a day of snow” -anyway, i like this and will keep it under consideration -not sure about ‘between mountains’ but yeah, it has the sounds and cadence i’m looking for

      1. LOL, sorry sorry…only briefly, Marshall! I’m blaming it on my dependency with my cellphone’s autosuggest function.

  12. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~Marshall Hryciuk

    along the shoveled path
    the tip of the cat’s tail

    1. hi Carol Ann -I can see the image you’ve communicated so well of the tail tip just visible above the the ‘shovelled snow-line’ but we need to shift away from this path

  13. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    –Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .
    filling the landscape
    a ghost owl
    .
    – Sandra Simpson
    .
    synonym for barn owl (Tyto alba delicatula)

  14. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    –Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .
    filling the landscape
    a barn owl

    – Sandra Simpson

    1. nice play with the optics, Sandra but i’m looking for something subtly sounding, scented, tasty or kinaesthetic here -not so much more visual -yeah, when I wrote this poem I didn’t know it was going to be a hokku

  15. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    –Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .
    silent on the wing
    barn owl

    – Sandra Simpson

    1. hi Sandra -perfectly accurate and captivating -but we need to lose the silence and move on into a different mode

    1. hi Aalix this continues the perspective of the hokku without adding enough momentum to the renku. I find we always need more shift than link

    1. yes, Christopher, they are, but I think we want to move out of the snow and the white and farther, out of the visual and empahsize another sense

    1. hi again Anna -happy sounds, but somehow this feels to me that the renku would be going backwards into even nostalgia -which would be okay except I don’t want this one to go there

  16. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    –Marshall Hryciuk

    whirling snowflakes
    behind the postal train

    1. hi Geert -no we can’t repeat anything with snow or frozen precipitation -the waikiku to my mind extends the seasonality and sense of place of the hokku but also begins the renku’s motion into inclusive difference

    1. hi Vasile -this is a nice response to my hokku -but we can’t have the word ‘snowflakes’ right after the word ‘snow’ -cheery image though

    1. nice ambiguity, Alan, here of who or what is filling up the car -‘derelict’ is a jarring surprise for a vehicle but I think mostly continues the mood of the hokku without getting any momentum going

    1. hi Alan -I feel I want more in the first 6 links, this would be a nice relay of momentum while i’m looking for something here that will gently but deeply ‘move’ the renku

  17. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    –Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .
    seed husks pile
    under the feeder

    1. hi Polona -a nice parallel to the fallen snow, but i’m looking for a slow movement out that is different from the beginning

  18. not a sound
    from huddled tree sparrows

    .
    I’m curious why the spring & summer images for this ‘day of snow’? (In previous renku the wakiku was said to be an extension of the hokku.)

    1. hi Christopher -maybe it’s the longing for spring -anyway, i like a balance between an extension of the hokku and at the same time a sense of departure or difference. Yours here is a lovely extension but reiterates too much for me the withheld expectation

    1. hi Marion -‘robin’ is spring around here -I asked for a winter verse, 2 lines

      1. Ah, a robin is associated with Christmas here in Ireland, Marshall, so it is definitely a winter verse for me. I should have checked it out on a kigo list though.

    1. hi Joel – ‘crash’ too abrasive for the opening 6 processional -‘breaking’ and ‘magnifying’ too much modifier going on here

    1. hi again, Joel ‘silently’ and ‘like a mist’ together just make this one too heavy for the energy we want to inaugurate for the next 34 links

    2. hi again, Joel -‘silently’ beside ‘like a mist’ is just too heavy for the energy we want to inaugurate for the next 34 links

  19. .
    .
    a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    .
    –Marshall Hryciuk
    .
    .

    the teeth of picket fences
    adding lost gloves
    .
    -Alan Summers
    .
    .

    1. hi Alan -ah, the topic of ‘metaphor in haiku’ -well not in the first 6, where we keep out the wordplay and irony as well

    1. hi Alan -like the sound of ‘canal lock gate’ however, no hoverflies around the Great Lakes in winter -in fact would be a spring signifier if there ever was one

  20. Hi Marshall & All,
    Yay – a new renku:)

    dropping a stitch
    in my new woollen scarf

    1. hi Jennifer -was hoping for something ‘out-of-doors’ on this link -the cadence is perfect for the ‘relay’ of a renku but not this one, now

  21. [a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door]
    waiting for a new trail
    to knock and fill in

    1. yeah, Pratima, anything with a ‘knock’ is too close and predictable -though I love the reversal of perspective

  22. [a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door]
    in the garden a dozen
    beer bottles in waiting

    1. well, Pratima no one could accuse you of daintiness in linking -this one just has a clunkiness to it -appropriate maybe to a dozen half-frozen beers but not for our opening link

  23. [a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door]

    kids licks ice off
    trashcans

    1. oww, typotypotypotypotypotypotypotypotypotypotypotypo

      kids lick ice off
      trashcans

      1. hi Pratima -you got a typo I got a readoh – i read ‘lick lice’ -but even ‘lick ice’ is much too rough and potentially painful for the first 6 links

    1. hi Patrick -nicely ‘over-the-top’ on the repeat of the visual sense emphasis -but, no too abrupt for the first 6 -and i’m suspicious of your use of ‘seventeen’

    2. hi Patrick -little over-the-top on the maintenance of the visual sense emphasis -and i’m suspicious of your use here of ‘seventeen’

  24. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    – Marshall Hryciuk

    **

    the flock’s jingling bells
    head towards shelter
    **
    – Sandra Simpson

    1. hi Sandra -don’t know what flock of birds would wear bells -and if it is ‘shelter’ presumably from a snowstorm that sounds a little too ’cause and effect’ for me -something to avoid in what’s ‘haiku-like’ though it is almost impossible to keep this aspect our of our poem for 36 links

      1. Hi Marshall,

        In my part of the world the first meaning of ‘flock’ that comes to mind is of sheep (or as the old joke has it, heard of cows?) 🙂 . Sheep (or goats) with bells round their necks. Quite common to see flocks with bells on in mainland Europe.

        Cheers,
        Sandra

  25. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    – Marshall Hryciuk

    **

    stepping into the tracks
    made by another sort of animal

    – Sandra Simpson

    1. nice evocation Sandra, but saying’ ‘tracks’ after the hokku is implying their lack is ‘too close’

  26. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    *****

    nary a carriage to pull, yet
    our cat is a Hackney

    *****

    – Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

    1. like the previous one a lot more, Shrikaanth -don’t really want a proper name this early in the renku

    2. hi Shrikaanth -can’t tell if i’m repeating this comment -but I like your earlier one more and we can’t have a proper name so early in the renku

  27. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    *****

    nonchalantly, a wolf
    shakes it all off
    *****

    – Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

    1. this is a better fit -still a bit too tight -I will consider this one again later -thanks

  28. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    beyond the threshold
    infinity, painted white

    – Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

    1. so Shrikaanth, as my comment below, though this is more pleasing for being imaginative

  29. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    buttoning up my coat
    I step into the once green

    – Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

    1. hi Shrikaanth -so much of a narrative here -I actually see haiku and renku as an antidote to the Western writing styles which hinge on ‘narrative-hidden narrative’ and ‘statement-restatement and qualification’. In renku we are looking for the surprise of a twist without a plot and without any particular ‘meaning’ or message and even without a definaeble ‘end’

    1. hi Jackson -too close to maintaining a narrative -and still primarily visual and from the perspective of the closed door for inclusion here (and watch those modifiers) -haiku and haiku-like poems are poems of evocative nouns not denotative modifiers. I have to watch this myself, since my overall writing pivots on my use of original verbs and gerunds; still when i write haiku i have to let the emphasis be carried by my nouns

    1. hi Anna -i’ll keep this one around for awhile -though the use of dots and dashes makes the hair on my wrists bristle -but if i take it i won’t change it -just believe that whatever marked ellipses in a haiku verse add they often take away something from just letting the lines jangle together -also feels like an offstage ‘voice-prompt’ to the reader from the writer. One of the joys for me of haiku is no props, no prompts, no judgments: language set free from the human self. All that said, i still like this -thanks

    1. hi Anna -this one just seems a little too ‘close-to-home’ -which I was trying to shift away from with this link – like the use of colour after the white of the hokku though

    1. hi Christopher -yeah, the ‘one by one’ had a better cadence to it but repeats the ‘one’ -this just seems too abrupt for the second verse -like ‘aboard’ too; made me think of a wooden toboggan without stating that it was

  30. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    – Marshall Hryciuk

    **

    vapour trails of words
    now and then catching us up
    – Sandra Simpson

    1. hello again, Sanfra – ‘vapour trails; is a nice link -appraising human activity goes against the spirit of haiku i think -nothing personal: 50% of haiku writers do this but I find it unacceptable

      1. Ah, but we’re not writing haiku, are we? Any further clarification on this point I would really appreciate as I have always understood that renku is *not* a series of haiku, meaning the ‘rules’ of haiku would be irrelevant … more than likely I am (once again) confused!

        1. hi Sandra -though most links in a renku need not be a haiku we are composing in ‘haiku-like’ fashion a ‘linked-poem’ that extends, and some would say, enhances the haiku tradition. So though each link is foremost a conductor of the poem’s energy, the underlying current within this flow is ‘haiku-like’ as opposed to any kind of Western, person-centred short-poem writing. So, baldly put, even though there may be no ‘aha’ moment to each link, no link should arrest the haiku-like feeling of the whole renku. So the ‘rules’ of haiku are not irrelevant -think of how important ‘seasoning’ is for example -renku just allows a greater outreach of topics, words, mood, etc. but I don’t agree that extends to appraisals of human performance or political generalizations -except where the renku has a place for them; in the ‘unrequited love’ and ‘current events’ sections for example

  31. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door

    – Marshall Hryciuk

    **

    counting my strides
    between the bare birches

    – Sandra Simpson

    1. hi Sandra -I like how the emphasis here is on the mental act rather than the actual striding -looks like all who have sent so far know that in the first 6 verses we don’t want any swift or violent action, loudness or lewdness -more like a stately processional before we break that up into various timbres -so while ‘counting my strides’ is strong without being too strident, the triple’b’s’ of the second line is just too alliterative for the processional

    2. hi Sandra -like that the emphasis is on the mental act of counting rather than the actual striding -just enough on the ‘calm’ side to be included in the first 6 links where we want things calm and without swift action, violence or sexual innuendo. But the 3 ‘b’s’ of the second line are just too heavy for this early

      1. a day of snow
        no one else
        has come to the door

        – Marshall Hryciuk

        **

        counting my strides
        between the birches

        – Sandra Simpson

        Any b-better? 🙂

  32. a day of snow
    no one else
    has come to the door
    ~Marshall Hryciuk

    ***
    silhouettes edging the field
    rounder by the hour
    ~Betty Shropshire

    1. nice touch, Betty, of the silhouettes, though it repeats the perspective, too closely at least, of the first verse. As a leader i try to avoid the procession maintaining the same perspective, especially early in the renku. Will look again at this one later, thanks –

    1. hi Jackson -nice link of the feet to the lack of footprints in the snow -I was, however looking more for something ‘out-of-doors’ -this is a very cozy, inside kinda verse, but not for now

  33. Marshall,
    quick questions…how many submissions can we make and do you want them all in one comment? So looking forward to this! Thanks!

    1. hi Joel -you can submit as many different verse-links as you like per request but please send them each in a separate ‘comment’ -so if i rate one as more or less likely to be included -or to be saved for a later consideration- i can just do it from a specific ‘comment’ and not have to move it out myself

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