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The Renku Sessions: Breathing In, Week 2

renku_300

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.

Last week we invited offers for our hokku, looking for either a spring or an autumn verse. Thirty-two poets responded, with seventy-two verses. A great many of these would have served us very well. Here are a few that received more prolonged consideration:

clear water
in a rock pool
swallows dip              Carol Jones

A clean image, with the power of simplicity. Either “clear water” or “rock pool” would have offered interesting title possibilities for the renku.

still life
the tulips’ slow bow
to the artists               Liz Ann Winkler

A hokku often has the quality of a greeting. This works well in that way.

sacred kingfisher—
spring begins
with an azure flash    Lorin Ford

I had to look up this bird and was rewarded for the effort. A very bright beginning and, again, many good options for titles.

harvest moon—
filling the demijohn
with sloes                   Sara Winteridge

Another clean, simple image. I don’t know whether “demijohn” was intended as a play on your humble sabaki’s name but, if so, it is very much in the spirit of renku that I, personally, enjoy.

pink throats
of baby birds
dawn chorus              Pauline O’Carolan

Love the first two lines of this one!

garlic in bloom—
from the seaside bars
smell of paint             Angiola Inglese

Very strong sensory images. I would have attempted a revision in order to avoided the multiple cuts (after both lines one and two). A single cut in the hokku and no cuts within the subsequent verses will be a preoccupation of mine during this session.

silvery moon
the jingle of spare change
in the scarecrow’s pocket     Marion Clarke

Fun, whimsical and a little mysterious.

ants unzip
a sugary sheath
early peony                Marietta McGregor

The first lines really grab my attention!

county fair…
judges measure
a hay bale toss           Chris Patchel

Just the sort of humor I appreciate in renku. A competitive spirit can be useful in collaborative writing but it can also spoil the fun if we are too serious about it. I would like to see us strive to win something on the order of a hay bale toss at the county fair.

So, the above is just a small sample of what we might have begun with. There were many other worthy offers.

OUR HOKKU

breathing in—
scent of new growth
in the trees

  • Shane Pruett

Although this verse does not contain a widely recognized kigo (season word), I take it as clearly a springtime image. The scent of it is very clear to me and I suspect that, even if the scent is different for those in other parts of the world, it is clear in some way to others if they live in an area with stands of deciduous trees.

The consciousness of new growth and the idea of taking it in by breathing accomplishes the hokku’s task of greeting us at the threshold of a shared experience.

And the idea of breathing in and breathing out sets the tone for how I hope we will be pairing verses as we go along – naturally. Sometimes, we will be taking very deep breathes and sometimes shallow ones. And our exhalations will be the natural consequences and “in kind.”

Finally, I appreciate the idea that both the scent and the new growth are “in the trees.” The scent, of course, is both in (or “from” or “among”) the trees but also in ourselves because we know that different creatures have different degrees of acuity and character in their senses, particularly in their sense of smell. It’s fun to apply the same considerations to the idea of “new growth.”

REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR NEXT VERSE

  • A springtime verse
  • Two lines
  • Closely linking with the scene presented in the hokku
  • Perhaps a blossom image

In addition to the idea of respiration as an image for linking and shifting verses, I would like to present two other ideas. One is that the linking verse can be thought of as the second part of a tan renga. From here on, we will not be writing verses that are complete poems in themselves but will become complete poems when added to the preceding verse.

And, finally, a quote from Earl Miner’s Japanese Linked Poetry (Princeton University Press, 1979); “Being moved, responding; being moved, responding—so the process builds…”

Please use the “Leave a Reply” box, below, to submit your verse two offers. I will be reviewing them until the submission deadline of midnight, New York time, on Monday, September 10. My selection and commentary, together with an invitation for the third verse will appear here on Thursday, September 13.

I look forward to seeing your offers for the second verse!

John Stevenson

This Post Has 72 Comments

  1. The submission period is now closed. Thank you everyone! Check back here on Thursday for verse selection, commentary, and instructions for submitting verse three candidates.

  2. a young mother
    breastfeeding

    dust of light
    falls between branches

    new roots
    on the rose cutting

  3. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    soft earth
    beneath running feet
    .
    first blooms
    of bluets by the brook

  4. .
    .
    high as a kite
    the river and pony tails
    .
    that fag
    smoldering in his cupid’s bow
    .
    losing my religion
    in a field of asphodel
    .
    .

  5. Congratulations, Shane.

    breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees

    *
    a splay of pink orchids
    gently dances

    *

    welcome swallows return
    to plan ahead

    *

    fresh fertilizer masked
    by wisteria wafts

    *

    prolific cherry trees
    designed to impress

  6. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees

    Shane Pruett
    .
    the privet hedge
    busy with sparrows
    .
    – Lorin

  7. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    sweetbriar foams
    over the bridal arch
    .
    everyone anticipates
    the first leatherwood honey
    .
    at the festival the savour
    of a Beaujolais Nouveau
    .

  8. what a stimulating start !! congrats
    my proposals
    *
    essence of jasmine
    in the snail slime
    *
    a chrysalis shell
    on the geranium vase
    *
    a pregnant cat’s belly
    laid on the young grass

  9. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    *
    a shower of blossom
    as the bus goes by
    *
    pigeons pair up
    on the garden fence
    *
    the marshes flooded
    by the spring tide

  10. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    the sound of rain
    tap tap tapping on the leaves
    .
    bright feathered warblers
    flit among the branches

    1. Such a lovely beginning. Congratulations to Shane. And John, thanks for also discussing some other options you considered, I find that very interesting.

  11. some proposals

    in the rustle of the leaves
    Wind color-changing

    under the thin rain
      scent of wisteria along the way

    among the rows of the vegetable garden
    warm smell of cut grass

    gauze wings of the dragonfly
    on the first clover flowers

    1. some proposals

      in the rustle of the leaves
      Wind color-changing

      ——————————————————
      under the thin rain
        scent of wisteria along the way

      —————————————————————
      among the rows of the vegetable garden
      warm smell of cut grass

      ———————————————————
      gauze wings of the dragonfly
      on the first clover flowers
      ————————————————————

  12. A delightful start, Shane. Thank you for choosing it, John. A very positive note to start off with and it’s already inspired some lovely following verses from the poets.

    Verse 1:

    shower of gold dust
    from spring wattle

  13. Ah, a breath of fresh air, nice one Shane, great start John
    .
    .
    breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    Shane Pruett
    .
    blossom fall
    revealing tiny fruit

  14. Great start, Shane!
    .
    breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    Shane Pruett
    .
    drifts of pollen even
    In the pharmacy
    .
    Marietta McGregor
    .
    May be this is a little too ‘human’!

    1. more for my benefit, since it’s after deadline. The verb sticks out now to me, so adjusting to:
      *
      *
      purple dewdrops
      out of the bearded iris

  15. haikudos Shane!
    * * * *
    cherry blossoms pink
    a plate of baby greens
    ~
    wind tossed kites
    wagging their bow tails
    ~
    falling blossoms add
    spots to the sleeping fawn

    1. nest to nest I hear
      hatchlings’ refrain
      ~
      setting the season’s clock
      by budding pear blossoms
      ~
      branches full of
      birdsong and blossoms

  16. Oh my! I just stopped in to see what the next verse outline would be. Imagine my surprise! I am very honored to have had my hokku selected. Thank you. I am very excited to watch the process unfold.

    1. Feel free to offer more verses, throughout. While I probably won’t select a second verse from a poet who is already included, I plan to mention other offers that I found interesting in each posting. That will not preclude mention of anyone already included in the renku.

      1. Thank you John. Certainly building something through collaboration is our goal and while I won’t be able to restrain my inclination to submit, I would not expect or even really desire another selection in the spirit of the renku. I shared this with my young daughter this evening. She (and I of course) loved some of the submissions for the second stanza, and she’s now fervently sifting words as well. Fun to watch her enjoying this as well.

        Also, a heartfelt thanks to everyone for the positive feedback! I’m am regularly astounded by the imagery you all submit and am honored.

  17. breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    Shane Pruett
    *
    after the windstorm
    a carpet of plum blossoms
    *
    a pussy willow
    stuck up her nose

    1. Liz Ann,

      We will probably save that level of humor for a little later but, in view of my comments about thinking of respiration when linking, the pussy willow verse is just perfect!

      John

  18. Great choice, John – it brings to mind Lorin Ford’s Earth Day verse in the last renku ‘From the Eaves’.

    Here are a few for consideration…

    .
    the loudest frog
    has left the pond

    .

    already a host
    of daffodils

    .

    the morning filled
    with sweet twittering

    .

    we raise a toast
    to our first tulip

    .

    tadpoles aplenty
    down at the pond

    .

    with a hoppity skip
    a young rabbit arrives
    .

    a tadpole wriggling
    in every footprint

    .

    the old swing
    coated pink

    .

    a fawn nibbles
    the sweetest grass

    .

    oh to be as frisky
    as that lamb!

  19. A beautiful choice, John, of Shane Pruett’s hokku.

    I’d like to offer these:


    sky is bright
    lotus buds open up

    fish in the pond
    admiring lotus blossoms

    Light and simple to go with the [first] hokku. Just for the sport, of course. 🙂

  20. Can’t resist. 🙂
    .
    breathing in—
    scent of new growth
    in the trees (Shane Pruett)
    .
    a mallow flower linked
    to Bashō’s horse
    .
    – Lorin

  21. Very nice, John, the hokku you have chosen, a beautiful beginning of spring in which the leaves of the trees give you so much more oxygen! Thank you for mentioning one of my verses. Sorry my english from google

    1. Glad to have your verses, Angiola. Your English seems good to me but, if I want a verse and feel that revision is required for any reason, I will propose an alternative version and attempt to get advance approval. This is for you and for any poet whose first language is something other than English. But there are other reasons why I may wish to suggest a revision. If that becomes a factor, I will explain my thinking about the alternative version.

    1. Thanks, Carol! Any problem if I drop the apostrophe, which in American English makes “bees” a plural possessive?

  22. Go Shane Go Shane
    ******************
    thousands of azalea buds
    soon to be blossoms
    ******************
    dinning al fresco with
    the birds and the bees
    *******************
    a blossom rain fills
    tomorrow’s forecast

  23. an egg of cuckoo
    in the hoopoo’s nest

    ***
    some farmers had already
    finished the spring cleaning

  24. A gorgeous verse, Shane, congratulations.
    *
    A marvellous start John, and thank you for mentioning one of my verses.

  25. lovely choice for the hokku; here my offering

    lying down on his back
    he chews a blade of grass

    children run barefoot
    on the tender grass

    a blackbird flies over
    with a stick in its beak

    1. Thank you, Marina! Your first verse reminded me of an experience I had this summer, while I was in Edinburgh. I happily reclined in the grass in a park there and suddenly remembered how much I had loved this experience, which I had foregone for many years because of the tic infestation and the danger of Lyme Disease that is so prevalent in our area.


  26. the tulips’ slow bow
    to the artists
    .
    i don’t want to be a spoilsport but does anyone else think that the phrasal part of Liz Ann Winkler’s hokku offer would make a great pairing with the selected verse?

    1. If Liz Ann offers it as such, I will gladly consider it but that need not spoil the sport. Who knows what else we may come up with!

    2. Yes, polona, it certainly gives a certain honour to natures artistry, something that cannot be matched by any artists imagination, in my humble opinion. A lovely suggestion.

    1. I live the wonderfully strong sensations this arouses. Having just breathed in new life one wants to dance!

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