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The Renku Sessions: Breathing In, Week 3

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 verse two – a springtime image, in two lines. Twenty-six poets responded, with seventy-eight verses. Here are some of those that received special attention. Note that these are not ranked but are in the order in which they were received:

the tulips’ slow bow
to the artists

                                    Liz Ann Winkler
(suggested by Polona Oblak)

This was discussed in replies at the time. And, if I remember correctly, Linda Papanicolaou showed us, in the previous session, that material that was not used earlier can be retrieved for later use.

a blossom rain fills
tomorrow’s forecast

                                     Michael Henry Lee

“Blossom rain” is a traditional late spring seasonal image (kigo). The poet is having some fun with the tradition by turning the expectations of renku poets of the past into a surprising forecast of tomorrow. The cherry blossom petals might be expected to fill a begging bowl, a Buddha’s lap, or some other physical object. But no – they fill a possible future.

a mallow flower linked
to Bashō’s horse

                                    Lorin Ford

For several days, I thought that this would be my selection. Although Lorin presented it as “can’t resist,” suggesting that it was more for fun than for serious consideration, I loved the idea of putting a literary allusion in this position. The delicate scent of the hokku would be followed by the chomping sense of taste of a horse. And I liked the cheeky use of “linked” in this verse. But at least one of the sources I rely upon for English-language kigo (Haiku World, by William J. Higginson) lists “mallow” as an “all summer” kigo. There may be other sources that say something different but I didn’t find them. And I have a good alternative selection (see below).

already a host
of daffodils

                                    Marion Clarke

Another literary allusion and, presuming that Marion knows that the second verse (wakiku) is traditionally written by the host of the session, an enjoyable play on words. Also, “already” moves us forward and reflects the fact that our movement in so short a renku is likely to be rapid.

a pussy willow
stuck up her nose

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

I commented on this one as soon as it came in. The late, long-term Modern Haiku editor, Bob Spiess suggested that the humor of a haiku might make a reader smile but probably not laugh. This verse, taken with the hokku, made me laugh out loud. But we probably don’t want to have that effect so close to the beginning of our renku. We will certainly welcome it later.

tap of [a]small beak
breaking the shell

                                    Pauline O’Carolan

This one is a close link and shift. To the subtle scent of new growth, we add the subtle sound of new life beginning. And both of them “in the trees.” It also serves to instigate the forward movement of our renku by suggesting the moment of breaking out of a shell into the wider world.

prolific cherry trees
designed to impress

                                                Barbara A. Taylor

We wouldn’t want the last line of the hokku and the first line of the following verse to both contain the word “trees” but this verse, with its suggestion of “sic gloria transit mundi,” seems promising and could have been modified easily without losing that element.

all the potholes
filled with cherry petals

                                                Chris Patchel

See my comments about “blossom rain,” above. This one also plays with our expectations. Instead of switching from a physical landing place to a speculative future, it offers a particular and novel physical reality. And so many thoughts proceed from this choice. Where I live, this could be taken to sum up the entire spring season. And if we consider the road with potholes to be the renku path we are to travel, this idea of potholes filled with cherry petals is just the sort of light humor with which I hope we will progress.

 

OUR SECOND VERSE:

 

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

What was a wisp of scent in the hokku, a suggestion that spring has arrived, becomes a fulfillment of that promise in verse two. The bee says, “I know where the flowers are. Here are the directions. Follow me!”

Various renku poets will have opinions about rhyming (trees/bees) as a linking strategy. My opinion varies with the specifics. Clearly, I like the effect here.

Intriguingly, this verse does not count as our blossom verse since no particular blossom is implied or specified. That’s not a problem in this format, which leaves us free to place our blossom verse in any season. So, I will ask for a specific blossom image later in the renku, probably when we get to the summer verse. One of the pleasures of renku is seeing how choices made now affect what will happen later.

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR NEXT VERSE

  • Non-seasonal (no kigo)
  • Three lines
  • Linking with verse two but not, in any way, with the first verse (hokku). The linking here should be less close. This verse launches us into the wider associations that will fill our renku world.
  • An indoor image, probably focusing on human beings (but not a love verse – that will be verse four)

 

Another quote from Earl Miner’s Japanese Linked Poetry (Princeton University Press, 1979), which I am currently reading. This time, he is quoting Sōgi (1421 – 1502). “The essence of renga is to give a mind (kokoru) to that which lacks a mind, to give speech to that which cannot speak.

 

OUR RENKU, SO FAR

 

breathing in
scent of new growth
in the trees

                                    Shane Pruett

 

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

 

Please use the “Leave a Reply” box, below, to submit your verse three offers. I will be reviewing them until the submission deadline of midnight, New York time, on Monday, September 17. My selection and commentary, together with an invitation for the fourth verse will appear here on Thursday, September 20.

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

John Stevenson

This Post Has 103 Comments

  1. Thank you everybody. The deadline has passed and I will now get to work on what looks like a hard selection from among many promising offers.

  2. after the last trip
    a new stickers series
    on the fridge

    *
    in a ray of sunshine
    the half-tips ready
    for the afternoon lesson

  3. all the kids
    help mom clean
    the louver windows
    .
    a new mother
    rocks her little girl
    in her arms
    .
    the lullaby
    of a new mother
    to her little girl

  4. This is going very well and I certainly have plenty to choose from already. Many of the current links are “word based” – linking to the idea of bees, hives, honey, etc. This is fine and we will be using word based links at times during our renku but I’m hoping also, in this final day, to see some more offers that link on the basis of how you felt about the image in Polona’s verse. I, for instance, felt “tickled” about the funny ways we communicate. And I felt impressed and humble to realize that we humans are not the sole proprietors of language skills – in fact many other creatures seem to have had language long before there were any human beings.

  5. a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance — Polona Oblak
    .

    everyone’s gaze
    on the girl with the golden
    g-string
    .
    – Lorin

  6. a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance — Polona Oblak
    .
    our lecturer
    on convergence science
    explaining ‘hive mind’
    .
    ‘synergy’
    was the boss’s buzz word
    until the merger
    .
    – Lorin

  7. I love the waggle dance Polona! Perfect. So many great responses already for the next verse.
    My own responses to the week’s prompt:

    1.
    a happy child
    face covered in honey
    and smiles

    2.
    fresh bread and face
    covered in honey
    my daughter grins

    3.
    spontaneous dance
    in a kitchen fragrant
    with dinner rhythms

    1. As I sent that I realized in the third verse I don’t want to repeat “dance” from Polona’s verse above. I would revise that to:

      spontaneous samba
      in a kitchen fragrant
      with dinner rhythms

  8. The bee’s waggle dance – terrific image, Polona.

    Verse !:

    Audrey was so elegant
    in her little black dress
    and up-do

    Verse 2:

    Russian tourists
    visiting Salisbury Cathedral
    mislay their perfume bottle

    Verse 3:

    he sniffs incessantly
    while playing the bagpipes
    and doing the Highland fling

  9. breathing in
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance
    .
    the refrigerator’s
    hum ends with a rattle
    all night
    .
    – Sandra Simpson

  10. breathing in
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance
    .
    a rustle of paper
    as I check his pockets
    for the laundry
    .
    – Sandra Simpson

  11. two lines
    of honey jars
    in the belief
    —————–
    my kleenex
    It has the vanilla flavor
    of the lip gloss

  12. Congrats, Polona!

    *

    frantically preparing
    for mother’s visit
    this long weekend

    *

    before guests arrive
    her brand new tablecloth
    stained by gold dust

    *

    just one short whistle
    and her old dog returns
    to the kennel

    *

    one, two, three,
    around the kitchen
    hugging her new broom

  13. a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance
    – Polona Oblak
    .
    bawds of euphony
    swarming toward
    the open mic
    .
    – Lorin

  14. a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance – Polona Oblak
    .
    so much lacquer
    needed to hold these
    teased-up hairstyles
    .
    – Lorin
    .
    (I woz a teenage hairdresser, in the ’60s)

  15. wide-open windows
    in the nick of time
    for morning gym

    ***
    changing the hangings
    I saw someone
    crossing the street

  16. every cubical
    abuzz
    with gossip
    .
    the drone
    of a vacuum
    outside his door
    .
    our resident
    code breaker
    sports his first mustache
    .
    assembly line workers
    humming
    old jitterbug tunes

  17. Congratulations, Polona !

    unwrapping
    the toffee
    to calm the kid

    her hairs
    untangled
    for the fresh braid

    1. Ops….no space . Posting again

      Congratulations, Polona !

      unwrapping
      the toffee
      to calm the kid

      her hairs
      untangled
      for the fresh braid

      1. Hey, Aparna. 🙂 It’s not you, it’s the way the comments section is figured. When we want a space between lines, we have to put in a symbol . . . a dot, a dash, an asterisk, a plus symbol . .. anything.
        .
        I use a dot, as above and below.
        .
        – Lorin

    1. I’m going to keep bringing this up. By starting with a prepositional phrase (between smoke and dust), there is an automatic break in the verse. I think this comes up so often because of the instinctive urge to write a “stand alone” verse, which is our normal task when writing haiku. But a renku is not a haiku sequence. The verses, other than the hokku, do not consist of complete poems in themselves. They make a poem when read with the preceding verse.

        1. I know you will, Carol. I’m putting this note in every so often because it’s likely to be relevant to anyone who is used to writing haiku and hasn’t done enough renga / renku to have this at the top of their list of considerations.

  18. please hold
    and your call will be answered
    by the next available agent
    .
    please listen carefully
    as our menu options
    have changed

  19. a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance — Polona Oblak
    .

    “fake news!”, cries
    the canary-colored
    comb over
    .
    – Lorin

        1. . . . coudn’t help myself, Marion. Such are associations. 🙂 I probably deserve a slap over the wrist.
          .
          – Lorin

  20. breathing in
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance
    .
    for the third time
    I adjust everything
    on the breakfast table
    .
    – Sandra Simpson

  21. breathing in
    scent of new growth
    in the trees
    .
    a pollen-covered bee’s
    waggle dance
    .
    each swipe
    of the window in time to
    Van the Man

    – Sandra Simpson

      1. Hi Sandra,
        Where is that written? (no proper nouns in this section). I can’t see it in John’s instructions and I’m unaware of it as a general prohibition. I distinctly remember a Junicho where a verse with, not a proper noun but a proper name, so almost the same thing, was accepted (by JEC) for the daisan. The proper name was ‘Jazz Messengers’ and the person who wrote it was William Sorlien. I forget the title of the renku, though.
        .
        – Lorin

        1. Whoops…when I started, John hadn’t replied. I started looking for the renku I mean, but it was taking me too long, so I just came back & finished.
          .
          Still, I’d be interested to know where you found the “no proper nouns in this section” rule.
          .
          – Lorin

          1. I’ve always taken the first section to be relatively ‘quiet’ – no war, no death, no current events … there are topics that shouldn’t be touched on. And I (personally) include in this most proper nouns …

            *And* it’s just struck me that we already have the tree-bee rhyme so my ‘Van the Man’ is also egregious on that point. Ha, only the third verse and already I can’t keep track. 🙂

          2. Ah, I see where you’re coming from now, Sandra. Thanks.
            (It’s not a rule, though, as far as I know. I think it’s probably down to the individual sabaki)
            .
            -Lorin

  22. Nicely done Polona
    *****************
    Brue Lee.
    age eighteen cha cha king
    of Hong Kong
    ++++++++++++++++++++
    the latest sting operation
    nets some real big
    surprises
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    comparing outburst
    of John Jimmy
    and Andre

  23. Love that “waggle dance”, Polona. 🙂 Congratulations.
    .
    John, thanks for your (most unexpected!) comments on my ‘mallow flower’ verse. You’re right, of course, they do bloom in summer and I hadn’t at all expected the verse to be considered, just couldn’t help myself when it occurred to me. The new mallow plants are only beginning to pop up everywhere now, and won’t become big or flower for a while. When I see mallows these days, I think of Basho’s horse. 🙂 That horse had good sense. . . mallows are edible and full of vitamins and good minerals. I eat the leaves sometimes, done in a way that some European people taught me long ago, quickly braised with garlic.
    .
    I love Basho’s sense of humour in that verse of his. . . the poet about to compose upon a flower, his horse with the more practical horse sense.
    .

    a) Michinobe-no | mukuge | wa | uma | ni | kuware-keri

    b) Roadside | mallow | as-for| horse | by | was-eaten-keri

    c) Near the road it flowered, / the mallow—and by my horse / has been devoured!

    d) roadside flower / fated to be eaten / by my horse

    https://onmymynd.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/reflection-249-basho-again/

    .

    – Lorin

    1. thanks, Lorin:)
      .
      not only is mallow edible, it also has medicinal properties and has been used as a cough remedy and for troubles with digestion

  24. Great choice, John. When I first saw Polana’s offering I knew it would be hard to let go. And thank you for your comments on mine. Here are this week’s offerings:

    *
    a consort of crumhorn*
    practice scales
    behind closed doors
    *
    the birthday table
    adorned with paper streamers
    of every colour
    *
    her china teacups
    filled with sweet tea
    and memories
    *
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumhorn

  25. wow, a nice surprise!
    thanks, John. will try to continue following the progress (can’t promise i’ll be around all the time)

    1. Welcome, Peter!
      .
      Can you revise this to eliminate the break after line one? There should be no internal breaks in the renku verses other than the hokku.

    1. The toddler in her diapers making her moves just cracks me up in its reference to the bee dance.

  26. lovely choice; here my verses

    from a dirty glass
    she watches the world
    moving on

    ***
    the violins
    of Vivaldi’s “Four seasons”
    from an old vinyl

    1. I’m probably going to be saying this a lot. There should be no grammatical breaks in any of the renku verses other than the hokku (first verse). By starting with a prepositional phrase (“from a dirty glass”) you guarantee a break. The second offer, with a prepositional phrase at the end, does not have this problem.
      .
      What we are doing now is making a new poem each time, consisting of the previous verse and a new one. The break, turn, change of direction in that verse occurs between the old verse and the new one.

      1. thank you for your comment and sorry for my mistakes due to habits, so please just discard my entry

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