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The Renku Sessions: Breathing In – Week 4

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.

Wow. Just wow. Twenty-five of you responded, offering eighty-two candidates for verse three. I am going to have a long list of favorites and will still be leaving many good offers out of my comments. Here, in the order they arrived, are some especially interesting ones:

the disco ball
reflecting in every corner
of the gymnasium

Marion Clarke

From the sharp directional focus of the bee, we have the contrast of an intentionally disorienting (if low tech) special effect. And the setting suggests to me the world of possible directions that young lives may take. An invocation of youth could be a lead into the love verses to follow.

butter melting
on French toast
in the sunlit kitchen

Judt Shrode

A lovely slant linkage. No punning on honey. Rather, the verse is suffused with a sympathetic glow and sweetness.

glitter spills
from her 80th
birthday card

Peter Newton

I suppose the “thinking” part of this link relates glitter to pollen dust. But what works best for me is the thought of a link between the waggle dance and the possibility of a slight tremor in the hand of the eighty-year-old birthday girl.

“fake news?”
cries the canary-colored
comb over

Lorin Ford

Another laugh out loud verse and we certainly could use it here. But we might want it later.

please listen carefully
as our menu options
have changed

Chris Patchel

This one says something wry about our communication skills. I don’t have room here to describe all the directions this sends me. One of them is the way it makes me squirm (rather than waggle) in my seat when a phone contact starts in this way.

they say
this amber pendant
once adorned royalty

Betty Shropshire

This one links lightly but persistently, in each line. The first line links to the image of language and acts of communication. The second line to the color of honey (and maybe pollen), the third line to the monarchy of a bee hive. This multiple linking is not always a good thing but I do like this particular instance.

frantically preparing
for mother’s visit
this long weekend

Barbara A. Taylor

Nicely carries the energy of verse two into a new realm.

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

Pauline O’Carolan

This is a word link that reads like something subtler. I must have read it and enjoyed it about eight times before the phrase “bee-hive hair-do” came to mind. Before that, I thought that the idea of “elegant” was being retro fitted to the society of bees and I love that kind of linking.

a new mother
rocks her little girl
in her arms

Victor Ortiz

Perhaps the obvious link is the motion of rocking, in contrast to waggling. But what makes this interesting to me is the contrast between the tender nurturing of human motherhood and the queenship in the hive. There, the first female to hatch, when there is a vacancy for a queen, begins immediately to kill any other young females.

the dog’s glee
behind the door
as the key turns

Agnes Eva Savich

Well, yeah. One link is a characteristic motion. And one contrast is between intra and inter-species communication.

a Rosetta Stone
needed to translate
the office politics

Marietta McGregor

A solid link relating to communication and a mildly humorous invocation of the collaborative processes of linked verse.

in silence
he interprets the joy
in her hands

Carol Ann Palomba

I like this a lot and I’m not sure that I literally understand it. It could relate to touching. It could relate to palm reading. It could relate to characteristic and endearing gestures. It would make an effective opening in the love verses.

 

OUR THIRD VERSE (DAISAN)

 

her china cups
filled with oolong
and memories

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

So, here is one potential destination for the honey that bees and only bees make. The word that makes this stand out for me is “memories.” We don’t think about bees having memory but of course they do or this process of communication would not work. A bee has to remember where the flowers are in order to tell others. The others have to remember what they were told in order to follow the directions. So, this word “memories” actually looks back at the previous verse and sheds new light on it for me. It also offers some good possibilities about where to go in the next verse, an initial love verse. Though we have to be careful that we don’t inadvertently link to both this verse and Polona’s.

I made some significant alterations in the original version of this verse (her china teacups / filled with sweet tea / and memories) because I didn’t want to so prominently carry the long “e” sounds into a third verse. I removed “tea,” “tea” and “sweet” and added “oolong.” But I kept “memories.” (Don’t’ we all?) If, upon final review, we feel that those “e” sounds are still too prominent, we can possibly remove “bees” from Polona’s verse without losing its clarity. But let’s have it this way for now.

There is another linkage that appeals to me here. From the waggle dance, there is a faint suggestion to me of the shifting of a china cup in a china saucer as it is being served to a guest and the characteristic sound that this makes. If I were writing in this renku, that’s where I would start in trying to compose a first love verse.

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR NEXT VERSE

  • A love verse
  • Non-seasonal (no kigo)
  • Two lines
  • Linking with verse three but not, in any way, with the first or second verses.
  • An indoor image. Perhaps a night image but no moon (we are saving that for later)
  • No long “e” sounds

A few words here about love verses, once again, from Earl Miner’s Japanese Linked Poetry (Princeton University Press, 1979). “For renga love is essentially one-sided, loving or longing without having the affection returned. (Sometimes a brief time of happiness is presumed or allowed, so that subsequent change may have the greater effect.)”

This is a short session we are engaged in, so we will have just a single, two-verse love sequence (verses four and five).

 

OUR RENKU, SO FAR

 

breathing in
scent of new growth
in the trees

                                    Shane Pruett

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

her china cups
filled with oolong
and memories

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

 

Please use the “Leave a Reply” box, below, to submit your verse four offers. I will be reviewing them until the submission deadline of midnight, New York time, on Monday, September 24. My selection and commentary, together with an invitation for the fifth verse will appear here on Thursday, September 27.

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

John Stevenson

This Post Has 90 Comments

  1. Thank you, everyone! The submission period is now closed and I am starting to prepare a selection and comments.

  2. .
    .
    polaris is in draco tonight
    that unblinking stare across the miles
    .
    polaris is in draco tonight
    chasing his tail through the wormhole
    .
    polaris is in draco tonight
    a pinky swear in the way of the intercepting fist
    .
    .

  3. her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    .
    -Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    the courtesan
    draws the velvet curtains

  4. her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    retorna me
    cara mia ti amo . . .
    .
    – Lorin

    1. . .. and just in case anyone might wonder: there is no equivalent to the long English e sound in there. It’s more delicate, more like our short i.
      .
      – Lorin

  5. her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    Elizabeth and Dudley
    sporting on the Thames
    .
    – Lorin

  6. Verse 2:

    Mummy was kissing a stranger
    in the lamplight

    Verse 3:

    tottering on the edge
    of love

    Verse4:

    I’d listened to your pretty lies
    but you never held my hand

  7. spin the bottle in hindsight
    was merely embarrassing

    *

    never trust a downpipe
    for safe and rapid retreat

    *

    did I tell you jasmine
    always gives me hayfever?

    ***

    1. Whoops. I guess either ‘jasmine’ or ‘hayfever’ will be a kigo, and we don’t want a flower verse here. Sorry!

  8. for their dance
    she takes off her heels
    .
    for their dance
    she goes without heels
    .
    no heels for the bride
    when they dance

    1. We have “dance” in verse two. So, we won’t be repeating it. Especially not in this position. We need to avoid any repetition or obvious linking with either the hokku or the verse before the one we are currently linking.

      1. Oops. In trying to avoid pronouns, or at least starting with them, I missed the more obvious repetition.

  9. Congratulations, Liz Ann, and thank you John for your leadership and all your comments! This is my first renku and so I appreciate learning from you as we go, in fact, from all of you. What a really fun and challenging practice! Here are my offerings for week four:
    .
    .
    her whole body shakes
    spotting him with her friend
    .
    .
    a gunshot
    far away in the night
    .
    .
    her reply only silence
    as she implores her through a door

  10. A very evocative verse, Liz Ann. Thank you!

    Verse 1:

    my breasts spilleth over
    into his hands

  11. Lovely, Liz Ann! And thank you for the discussion, John.

    *
    her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    .
    — Liz Ann Winkler

    *
    a glance lingers a while
    on round white shoulders

    *

    they choose a star to adopt
    because it’s forever

    *

    the dilation of his pupils
    not due to drugs or drink

    ***

      1. Fun, but I would think a double entendre, or anything language-related, would link back to the waggle dance?

  12. Congratulations, Liz Ann!
    Thank you John for comments.

    *

    star gazing on our
    first night of intimacy

    *
    delicately, she unzips
    her brassiere

    *

    the tingle of flesh
    on her porcelain skin

  13. I’m just now joining in. This renku really is coming along so…congratulations to Shane, Polona and Liz Ann for such exquisite verses. I enjoyed going back to read all the offerings of the past few weeks. John, your comments and thoughts always offer such insights. Thank you for sharing them.
    .
    Here are my offerings to link to Liz Ann’s beautiful tea verse:
    .
    .
    her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    .
    Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    .
    distant lightning crackles
    as he strokes her hair
    .
    .
    soft patter of rain
    as they dance in the dark
    .
    .
    he imagines her touch
    as rain taps a dance in tin
    .
    .
    a curl of smoke
    and warmth on their tongues

  14. drunk with her smell I feel
    in the seventh heaven
    *
    face to face two pillows
    waiting for you and me

  15. two hands on the tablecloth
    approach … move away…
    *
    his hand plays
    with her bracelets

  16. Congratulations Liz !!!!
    *******************
    plumbing the depths
    of each other’s eyes
    ****************
    face time focused
    below the waist
    *************

      1. or perhaps:
        **********
        their face time focused
        on anything but
        ***************
        their shifting shapes
        of body language

  17. her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories – Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    what the butler saw
    is no-one’s business
    .
    Lorin

  18. her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    .
    -Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    the handmaiden
    blushes at his portrait

  19. Congratulations to Liz
    here my verses:

    the engagement ring
    kept in the safety box


    that night in Xian
    when their child was conceived

  20. Wow – what a delight. Thank you, John. I love your change; it made me think of the relationship between longing and memories and just sounds better. I really needed this boost today. Blessings on you and all my fellow poets.

    1. Liz Ann,

      I am so relieved that you are happy with the revision. I wanted to discuss it with you in advance and off site but couldn’t find your email address. There is a tradition that gives the session leader license to make changes, even quite radical ones. But I prefer to talk it over, if possible. And now, after several years on this site, I’ve just now discovered that there is a way for me to get access to the email address that was used when submitting a reply. So, others will get a message from me if I’m contemplating a revision.
      .
      I love your verse and I hope I have preserved the quality of it while dealing with the “long e” issue.

  21. Congratulations to Shane, Polona & Liz Ann! A truly delightful beginning.
    .
    Greetings, John. Thank you for leading this renku. I enjoy your commentary very much.
    .
    .
    her china cups
    filled with oolong
    and memories
    .
    -Liz Ann Winkler
    .
    how delicate the neck
    of my housemaid

  22. Congratulations, Liz Ann a lovely, lovely verse, so delicate an image for the link. A marvellous choice and comment, John.
    This is a great place to learn 🙂

  23. “In silence” was unambiguous to me. In silence interpreting sign language. Reallt surprised you missed that.

    1. That’s interesting, Katherine. I also interpreted Carol Ann’s verse as showing at least one person of the two using Auslan or the USA equivalent.
      .
      Lorin

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