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The Renku Sessions: Breathing In – Week 10

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Welcome to our ninth renku session under the sponsorship of The Haiku Foundation. This will be a Jûnichô (twelve verse) renku, under the guidance of John Stevenson.

My thanks to the twenty-two poets (several of them “playing along”) who provided fifty-three possible verse nines! Here are a few that I’d like to appreciate before settling on this week’s selection. I have to say that I am presently at a terrible disadvantage because I am on a cross-country train and will continue to be so until after this post must be released. The fact that I am not a flower person combined with the intermittent wifi access I’m experiencing will result in some problems, at least insofar as this might be our blossom verse:

time lapse photography
combines three
lightning strikes

                                    Michael Henry Lee

While I am going to do my very best to get a blossom verse in this place since the options for an autumn blossom are extremely limited, I do love this image. I wonder whether the notion that lightning strikes had some role in creating the first organic compounds is still considered science or has migrated into myth. I almost think I have seen a photograph like the one Michael Henry is describing here.

a circle of young girls
braid daisy chains
on the grassy lawn

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

This would probably provide us our blossom image. I’m not absolutely certain that daisy is a summer kigo. I couldn’t find it on the on-line lists that I’ve been able to bring up on the train. And I recently learned that a season reference is not the same thing as a kigo. In any case, Liz Ann is “playing along.” Well played, Liz Ann.

hydrangeas in bloom
by our old front porch
still the same blue

                                    Linda Weir

I’m pretty sure that hydrangeas would work for us. I found them on one list. I wouldn’t want to have “old” when the leap-over verse asks “how long” but that would be an easy fix. And the front porch, while not uniquely a summer image, certainly invokes that season for me.

yarrow flourishing
on the plot
awaiting development

                                    Andrew Shimield

I like this one a lot – especially the relation of the “building blocks of DNA” to a “plot awaiting development.” Couldn’t find “yarrow” with my limited resources.

a rough sketch
of scorching temperatures
yet to come

                                 Barbara A. Taylor

Had I been willing to give up on finding a blossom verse, this would be a tempting choice. I like the idea of DNA as a “rough sketch.”

flies torment
the first picnic
of the season

                                    Marina Bellini

Also, no blossom. But I do like using flies as the link since the early days of genetic research featured fruit flies.

cool cave walls
after a long hot
hike uphill

                                    Agnes Eva Savich

And another non-blossom contender. The link, for me, is “uphill.” Although there is no top or bottom in the spiral structure of genetic materials, I instinctively think of it in that way. And then, the idea of progress in evolution has a kind of “excelsior” quality.

cooling
a summer classroom
with watercolors

                                         Victor Ortiz

We have not named a season in this renku. That is a legitimate kigo option, in limited use.

 

OUR NINTH VERSE

English roses
live and die
in Hyde Park

                                    Pauline O’Carolan

I’m playing it safe as regards a summer blossom since I know roses appear as such on a number of kigo listings.

I have made a change in Pauline’s original verse and I’m sorry to say I haven’t checked with her in advance as I would like to. My limited on-line time and access to e-mail is to blame and I do hope that Pauline will not be offended with the result. Everything in the above is her wording but I have eliminated a third line (“by the serpentine”) and created a break in the original first line. I am aware that “serpentine” was offered as a link to “snake” in the preceding verse. But I prefer a less direct link and I see both “English” and “live and die” as possibilities. We are all blood relatives, however distant the relationships. We are relatives with all living things that contain DNA. And yet, variations in that same genetic material create our unique combinations of personal attributes. The roses are roses because of partial sharing of genetic code, they are “English” because of a different but related set. And finally, they are us.

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR NEXT VERSE

  • A non-seasonal verse
  • Two lines, without a break
  • Linking with verse nine but not, in any significant way, with the first eight verses
  • The last two verses will be autumn verses (including a moon verse) so don’t do anything that might make those more difficult. This might be our last chance to do something really wild and crazy.

 

OUR RENKU, SO FAR

 

breathing in
scent of new growth
in the trees

                                    Shane Pruett 

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

china cups
filled with oolong
and memories

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

the delicate neck
of his housemaid

                                  Maureen Virchau

I pull up my hood
to avoid the snow
and your words

                                 Marion Clarke
UN laughter
heard round the world

                                Chris Patchel

is it so long since
dugongs were taken
for mermaids?

                                Marietta McGregor

the rainbow snake redrawn
as nucleic acid

                                          Lorin Ford

English roses
live and die
in Hyde Park

                                    Pauline O’Carolan

Please use the “Leave a Reply” box, below, to submit your verse ten offers. I will be reviewing them until the submission deadline of midnight, New York time, on Monday, November 5. My selection and commentary, together with an invitation for the eleventh verse will appear here on Thursday, November 8.

I look forward to seeing your next offers!

John Stevenson

 

This Post Has 58 Comments

  1. English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park
    .

    Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    an ee-vangelist let loose
    in the abbey
    .
    – Lorin

  2. the electric guitar’s
    show-off solo
    *
    the whole band
    headbangs in unison
    *
    fog machines and fire
    fuel the band’s encore

  3. English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park
    .

    – Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    Das Kapital
    by any other name
    .
    – Lorin

  4. English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park

    ******

    the old tower chimes
    the late hour

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this (new to me) style of expression and cannot thank you enough for allowing me to contribute and learn so much in the process. I don’t always play along but I read ravenously each week. Cheers, msp.

  5. from the convent the notes
    of a requiem setting
    * * *
    every morning on the tabletop
    a petal from dried flowers composition
    * * *
    a park of centuries-old spruces
    thrown down by the storm

  6. John, thank you so much for selecting my verse and your change to the original was just fine. Thank you to all my fellow poets for their kind words, and to the enlightening discussions. Because I enjoy participating so much, my verses will keep coming until the end. Looking forward very much to see this week’s selection.

    Verse 1:

    Rapunzel’s prince
    fell from the tower

    Verse 2:

    for forty-one years
    only princesses were born

    Verse 3:

    “Hallelujah”
    sung by the homeless

    1. So glad that you are pleased with your verse and sorry I wasn’t able to determine that in advance. Also, glad that you and others continue to “play along.”

    2. Congrats Pauline. Your verse paints a vivid picture for me, and I was momentarily struck by the additional image of the homeless singing Hallelujah. That is a lovely, poignant image. Haunting.

  7. Well done, Pauline, for a wonderful verse and for one that provides interesting ways to link to. I also tried to think about possible future paths for linking to any of the verses below in the next autumn verse. I don’t think I did that quite so consciously before. Thanks for the reminder, John.
    *
    *
    English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park
    *
    *
    taking selfies
    with cruise missiles
    *
    the self-destruction
    of an auctioned painting
    *
    the artifacts
    of a decommissioned battleship

  8. plastic-wrapped produce
    on the supermarket shelves
    *
    the shared ennui
    of the departure lounge
    *
    heat rising
    from the compost heap

  9. Congratulations, Pauline!

    *

    conjoined twins prepare
    for separate pathways

    *

    (https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/11/02/13/51/conjoined-twins-nima-and-dawa-update-resting-at-kimore-retreat)

    *

    a hypodermic needle
    caught between the thorns

    *

    imagine, Barbra reminds us
    what a beautiful world

    (latest album just launched:
    https://barbrastreisand.com/walls/)

    *

    bargaining for second-hands
    at the flea market

    *

    highest bushfire alert
    all along the east coast

    ~~~

  10. Congratulations Pauline!
    *
    English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park
    *
    cross country train trip
    outside imaginary buffalo roam
    *
    road trip radio, I find myself
    singing along with Bette Midler
    *

    1. cross country train trip
      outside imaginary buffalo roam
      *

      And very occasionally real bison. But the ghosts are where the poetry is.

  11. wee would-be runaway born
    with a spirit wild and free
    .
    wild blow off the Channel
    stirs swashbuckling desires
    .
    saving the wedding day
    in two flutes of potpourri

  12. proles offer up hearty
    rounds of applause
    *****************
    Alice ODS with Tweedle Dum
    and Tweedle Dee

    1. permit me to make a small edit
      **************************
      all the proles offer up
      a hearty round of applause

  13. .
    English roses
    live and die
    in Hyde Park
    .

    – Pauline O’Carolan
    .
    In memory of. . .
    .
    “here’s to the master”
    with a pint of Sunshine
    .

    – Lorin

    1. Yes, Marietta, I love the train travel and try to do a cross-continent journey from one to three times each year. And, of course, I met you at my local train station in 2015!

  14. Congratulations, Pauline. (Somewhat amazing, 3 Australians in a row! though from different States and Territory.)
    .
    John, that cross-country train trip must be a wonderful experience. I hope it’s ok to respond to your comment on:
    .
    yarrow flourishing
    on the plot
    awaiting development

    Andrew Shimield
    .

    “I like this one a lot – especially the relation of the “building blocks of DNA” to a “plot awaiting development.” Couldn’t find “yarrow” with my limited resources.” – John
    .
    Yarrow is a common, summer-blooming wildflower plant with dark green, feathery-ferny leaves. I know it as ‘carpenter’s herb’, as it staunches bleeding, but it is one of the ancient good herbs both in the West and in China and is now used in permaculture gardens as well. Its Latin name, Achillea millefolium, comes from the legendary Achilles the Greek, as in Homer’s Odyssey. Aeschylus wrote plays about him. There is a good, clear photo of common yarrow flowering and of the leaves here if you scroll down:
    .
    http://www.matthewwoodherbs.com/Yarrow.html

    .
    “Yarrow is a member of the aster family native to Europe and Asia. A similar species, Achillea lanulosa, grown in North America, can only be differentiated under the microscope. ”

    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achillea_millefolium
    .
    – Lorin

    1. ps. . . . and traditionally, it was the sticks of the yarrow flower that were used to cast for an I Ching hexagram. (which changes/ develops from the initial hexagram to another, according to the rules of process)
      .
      – Lorin

      1. Thanks, Lorin. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have looked up “yarrow” but rather that I couldn’t find the word listed as a kigo in the few on-line lists that I was able access with my intermittent wifi. And, as I had recently been reminded, just because a word could be a kigo does not mean that it is one. So, I “played it safe.”

        1. “. . . just because a word could be a kigo does not mean that it is one.” – John
          .
          True, John. If a word isn’t listed as a kigo it’s not a kigo. New kigo arrive in the big saijiki when a verse is acknowledged by the experts to contain a new kigo. So the couple of hundred kigo in Basho’s day now amount to thousands.
          .
          Beyond the fact that Japanese senryu writers inevitably use seasonal references that appear in saijiki (but in senryu they are not kigo) is the glaring fact that a kigo isn’t a kigo for Japanese haiku writers until it is added to the big saijiki with it’s accompanying haiku/ verse. Kigo are culturally coded words in Japan only. (Hence we can, after initial astonishment, look up a kigo dictionary/ saijiki and find the bloodline of Fay Aoyagi’s “deep sea fish” (as in “I go to town as a deep sea fish”)
          .
          And beyond that is the glaring fact that there is no such thing as kigo in English-language renku and haiku, never mind who uses the word ‘kigo’ as if there were. So if we want kigo in EL renku (rather than seasonal references), we use whatever EL translations of Japanese words or phrases we can find, but we use these kigo as seasonal references, not as kigo, since only rarely do most of us understand the history and culture embedded in them. (and sometimes we get ridiculous assertions, such as that “pony” is a kigo because it appears on a translated saijiki list. . . caveat emptor. The word isn’t ‘colt’, either, as in Haiku World – An International Poetry Almanac (def. of colt: “a young uncastrated male horse, in particular one less than four years old”.
          .
          My guess, from what I understand of kigo (which is little) is that yarrow would be included in natsu kusa ‘summer grasses’, since ‘grasses’ in the Japanese includes all the self-sowing herbs and wildflowers. Whether or not naming one of these ‘grasses’ counts as a kigo, I don’t know, but Basho named the mallow flower (that his horse ate) .
          .
          Whether or not ‘dugong’ is in the big saijiki, I don’t know either, but since dugong, along with whales, were hunted, slaughtered and eaten by the Japanese, and ‘whale’ is a winter kigo, I wouldn’t be surprised if dugong was, too. Allusions to cultural heritage such as “Since dugongs are protected under Japanese cultural properties law, . . . ” would seem to indicate it may be.
          https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/Okinawa_dugong/
          .
          I suppose the only ways everyone involved in an international EL renku could be on the same page is for everyone to follow the same translated Japanese kigo list or to abandon the idea of translated kigo altogether in favour of seasonal references. A conundrum!
          .

          – Lorin

          1. you put that issue really well, Lorin.
            Personally I go along with seasonal references. In this case, yarrow is a summer flowering plant – ergo it fits.
            Kigos/ seasonal references can create problems with international renku ( I don’t think the old masters foresaw the internet). At the moment I guess the solution is ‘sabaki rules’, but who knows how things will progress.

        2. This sent me into some interesting corners. It seems that yarrow may be a season-word. The following is from Dr Gabi Greve‘s World Kigo Database.
          .
          ***Start of extract:

          kigo for mid-summer

          ***** nokogirisoo, nokogiri soo 鋸草 (のこぎりそう)
          yarrow; milfoil . lit. “saw plant”
          Achillea alpina. Garbe

          It grows well in dry mountain areas and is now also grown as a garden flower to enjoy the white or pink blossoms. The leaves are shaped like a saw.
          The reddish flowering plants are from the west

          seiyoo nokogirisoo セイヨウノコギリソウ.

          ***End of extract
          .
          Dugongs don’t seem to appear as a kigo. They are revered in Okinawa (what few are left), and old tales caution against harming them.
          .
          http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2017/04/26/26871/

          — Marietta

          1. Thanks for researching. Marietta. Yes, I thought it likely, considering that Basho used “mallow” as a kigo, that the other “summer grasses” such as yarrow would also be kigo. Interesting, Gabi’s note that “nokogiri soo” is literally “saw plant” fits well with the English etc. “carpenter’s herb”.
            .
            As for dugong, you may be right but one never knows what’s not a kigo unless someone searches the big, official saijiki (which is far bigger than all the volumes of The Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which is not translated into English and which I’ve seen a young Japanese man struggle to even lift). Added to that is that in these post-Edo times Japanese writers from various regions have created or are in the process of creating their own regional saijiki.
            .
            But my major conundrum remains: what is kigo in international EL renku (and I do mean “international” in more than the limited sense that’s meant when people from only two nations, such as Japan + USA, participate) when we do not have a common kigo culture? When we do not even, in any real sense, have kigo?
            .
            Why would not intuitive and usually easily confirmed seasonal references be better suited than kigo? Can’t help musing on it.
            .

            – Lorin

      1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your responses on this interesting issue of kigo in international EL renku.
        .
        New kigo are always being considered by the Japanese kigo fraternity , too. I wonder who was the first to use ‘air conditioner’ in a verse (haiku or renku) and who approved it as a summer kigo and accepted it as an entry in the big saijiki? I guess it was a pretty logical update of the ancient hand-held fan.
        .
        – Lorin

  15. Nicely Done Pauline
    ****************
    blending the ” Royals” with
    the rest of the world
    ********************
    as Windsor’s blend in
    with the rest of the world

  16. Lovely choice, congratulations Pauline.
    Here my entries for the week:

    the janitor sweeps the floor
    humming that French song

    ***
    the rally of protest
    ends with no casualties

    ***

    is the little Prince
    who is running with a fox?

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