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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 4

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Welcome to another Renku session. I am Linda Papanicolaou. The renku I am leading this time is an Imachi, an 18-verse form from Renku Masters Shunjin and Seijo Okamoto (“Waiting for the Moon,” 1984). Like Junicho, the other form they gave us, Imachi is a single-sheet renku though it develops in a more traditional jo-ha-kyu structure and depends more on the flow of passages of verse in its linking.

A thorough discussion may be found in John E. Carley’s Renku Reckoner, pp. 51-56, online at Google Books. The section includes a discussion, a selection of seasonal schemata, and a lovely example, “Between the Jagged Rocks”, by JEC and Norman Darlington.

 

Choice of verse for Daisan:

Twenty-three writers submitted verses for our daisan, including a few who have just joined us. Welcome!

The requirement was that this be a blossom rather than a flower verse. Still, we had a lot of flower verses submitted and unfortunately it meant that many offers had to be eliminated from consideration. If some were yours, do save them. Spring will not come again in this renku but an opportunity for a flower topic may arise again and you may find your idea can be retooled to another season. Or you may have a pocket haiku.  The blossom verses were all very nicely visualized and I enjoyed trying each submission with the hokku and wakiku that would be its maeku/uchikoshi pair.

This verse by Polona Oblak is the one I kept coming back to as I read through them all. It’s the one we’ll place:

overnight
the apple orchard
turns all blossom

Since we already have a lot of plurals in the hokku and wakiuku (icicles, eaves, breaths), Polona’s choice to draw back and show us the whole orchard, with the generic “blossom” rather than “blossoms”, gives us a sense of abundance without another plural.  Notice how the fragrance of the wakiku spills into the verse, recasting from the scent of the earth to the scent of the apple orchard.

The one problem is that it’s a purely descriptive non-person verse like the hokku and we can’t go back to that just yet. This is easily fixed with–if you’ll permit me–a bit of wordsmithing:

a row of icicles
blue sky and sunshine
dripping from the eaves

on Earth Day, deep breaths
for the scent of it

see how overnight
the apple orchard
turns all blossom

Framing the verse with an imperative implies the needed human presence while leaving the heart of Polona’s imagery—the suddenness with which the orchard is coming into bloom—intact.  We have the person/s who were inhaling the scent of the earth in the wakiku, now viewing the orchard.  And a three-verse progression from the sense of temperature through sense of smell through sight.

Many thanks, Polona. I hope my edit is okay with you, and I hope everyone likes our completed first three verses as much as I do. I love the wonderful ideas you’re all coming up with. Onward!

 

Call for Verse 4:

Specifications:

  • Two lines
  • Non season
  • Person or non-person

What to avoid:  In the previous calls for verses I’ve kept things as brief as possible in order not to set up too many hoops for you to jump through. However, many of the blossom submissions used falling or fallen blossoms as a season reference, which would have created  kannonbiraki problems with the dripping icicles of the hokku. To help you direct your efforts, from here on I’ll be listing including what to avoid in the calls for new verses.  For verse 4,  it is the following:

  • Anything in the hokku is off limits for the rest of the renku, or at least till we get to the ageku–the final verse. This means no icicles or cold things, no dripping or falling things or even lined up rows of things, no.sky, color blue, sun, roof eaves (or possibly even other parts of a building though this can be decided on a case-by-case basis).
  • No named holidays, nor other imagery similar to the wakiku

 

Registering your verse offers:

• Use the ‘‘Leave a reply’ box down at the bottom of this thread to submit your offers.

• Please hold revisions or corrections to a minimum, but if you must do so, use the “Reply” link on your own post rather than initiate a new submission.

• Post your submissions before midnight Monday, 7 May, Eastern USA time.

• The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 10 May, Eastern US time.

Happy writing!

Linda

This Post Has 99 Comments

  1. Okay, everyone–it’s after midnight eastern US time and the window for submissions for verse 4 is closed. Wow! 91 comments on the thread and some really amazing offers. I hope everyone is reading them through and enjoying the ingenuity and creativity! I’ll be back on Thursday with our next step.

  2. see how overnight
    the apple orchard’s turned
    all blossom
    .
    the play of light
    in quick brushstrokes
    .
    – Lorin

  3. .
    the kindle’s soft glow
    reflected in her eyes
    .
    .
    time travelling
    into my new novel
    .

  4. from the open window
    the already lukewarm air comes in
    ================================

    during the class task
    the slow pace of the hoe
    ===============================

    among the mulberry leaves
    the rustle of a silk scarf
    ===============================

  5. Linda & all,
    .
    what do you think about this as the final version?
    .
    look! overnight
    the apple orchard’s turned
    all blossom

    1. For what it is worth, I like it, Polona, but take note, I am a fresh planted seed when it comes to this blossoming garden 🙂

      1. nicely put, Carol, but i think you’ve grown quite a bit since joining THF renku sessions 🙂

    2. Interesting, Polona.
      “Look!” is more direct and is clearly both an exclamation and an urgent demand/order, perhaps a startled one.
      .
      I suppose it depends on whether or not such a strong (and perhaps ‘stagy’/ theatrical . . . in context of an apple orchard blossoming?) usage is wanted.
      .
      Though it was edited out of the final version, this approach was used by Karen Cesar in the daisan of the ‘Rasika’ renku that Kala led:
      .
      Look! an ermine
      bolting out from under
      that boulder
      .
      – Karen Cesar
      .
      Personally, I think “Look!” fits better there because the short and sharp exclamation/ command has a purpose: if we don’t look at what’s happening now, we’ll miss seeing the ermine.
      .
      see how overnight
      the apple orchard’s turned
      all blossom
      .
      This is softer/ gentler, imo. Someone is surprised & delighted with something that’s (seemingly magically) happened overnight and wants to share the wonder of it. There is no sense of the speaker being startled nor a tone of urgent command.
      .
      Both work. It depends what tone and nuance is wanted. Startled or surprised? Command or invitation?
      .
      – Lorin

      1. thanks for your thoughts, Lorin. it’s interesting how different people perceive the same thing in different ways.
        i thought of “Look!” as an exclamation of awe rather than a command and in that sense it worked best for me.
        but certain nuances may be lost on me. though i do have a developed feel for language i didn’t grow up speaking english, so…

        1. That’s true, Polona. And common usage of these ‘remarks’ will vary from world region to world region. . . even regions in the same country. “Look!” could be “O, my!”, for instance, in the USA’s South (but not in Australia) The version, “OMG!” , abbreviated like that in text but not abbreviated in speech, has spread like a virus over the last couple of decades and is common, I think, pretty much anywhere in the English- speaking world now. . .heard in the everyday speech of those under the age of 35 or so, now, and often, where I am. . . How time flies, and usage changes. 🙂
          .
          – Lorin

          1. Interesting stuff, Lorin. I think the perfect word, at least in my neck of the woods, would be ‘wow’…were it not far too casual. It’s used in ways ranging from exclamation to quiet awe.
            .
            Judt

  6. This renku certainly is developing so beautifully under Linda’s skilled leadership. Like so many here, I love the implied magic of Polona’s beautiful orchard verse. Nothing is more beautiful than that. Congratulations, Polona!
    .
    .
    My three offerings for what they are worth:
    .
    a Cox’s Orange Pippin
    ready for that first bite
    .
    .
    the giggles and flashes
    of children and fireflies
    .
    .
    fireflies flitting
    just out of reach
    .

  7. see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    *
    returning to the same spot
    a kiskadee

  8. see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    *
    daddy’s little girl
    now he walks her down the aisle
    *

  9. a still warm pie
    for afternoon tea
    ***
    the neighbors’ child and
    his messed smile of jam
    ***
    a little faded everything
    at the end of the day

  10. apple picking my boyhood
    under the hot spicy rain
    .
    till the earth becomes
    a fragrant talisman

  11. Linda, could you please clear something up for me? I’m confused about the linking. You wrote (as I understood it) that from here forward (verse 4?) there must be no reference to the hokku. I had thought that was true of verse 3 as well? If so, I’m confused about orchards…which in my experience normally consist of rows (although I understand it’s quite possible that is not the practice everywhere). Anyway…would you straighten me out on this? Thank you!
    .
    Judt

    1. That’s an interesting way of seeing it, Judt. Hmm. Now that you point that out, I think I overdid it the way I phrased “rows of things”–I was focused on that one long line of dripping icicles. I suppose if one were to write a single row of trees in an orchard I’d see a problem. When i visualize that verse I see the whole mass of blossom–area rather than linear. Thanks for speaking up. Methinks that avoidance warning for the hokku needs a bit of tweaking.
      .
      Not that your way of looking is to be “straightened out”–no two of us see the same way. Falling things will remain in avoidance. References to colors and sky also–till we get to the end. The ageku can bust through the rules if it likes.

      1. Thanks, Linda. What you say about ‘rows’ makes sense, and makes it clear to me that the avoidance of the hokku does apply to the third verse, as well. That’s where I was getting confused. And I love Polona’s verse, btw!
        .
        Judt

    2. you certainly have a point, Judt. commercial orchards are usually planted in rows (i see little magic in those) but i had a different kind of orchard in mind when i wrote this (i actually started out with “old apple orchard” but that seemed modifier-heavy so i left out “old”)
      as i wrote in another comment, many private houses and smaller farms here have a yard or garden where a few fruit trees (mostly apples but also an odd cherry or pear) are planted and, if treated properly, turn into clouds of blossom literally in the course of a day. when that happens, they truly look magical

      1. It’s a beautiful verse, Polona! And I’ve experienced the almost-magic you’ve described. It’s just that I’m easily confused when it comes to the intricacies of renku, and need to check in when I don’t understand.

  12. Congrats to you, Polona! Such fresh imagery. It lingers. A wonderful choice, Linda.
    .
    .
    opening my journal
    to a blank page

  13. Polona, very pretty. I love all blossom and have bought a cottage in the country (south coast of NSW, Australia) which has an apple tree and a plum tree in the garden.

    Verse 1:

    I drink my coffee black
    in the cafe on the hill

    Verse 2:

    the girl is painting
    her lips bright red

    Verse 3:

    the train roars
    out of the tunnel

    1. thank you, Pauline.
      a lot of houses here have a few fruit trees in the garden and they look very prettybwhen they bloom 🙂

  14. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves
    ***
    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it
    ***
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    ***
    slowly swing
    a old rocking chair

  15. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves
    ***
    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it
    ***
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    ***
    on the mom’s rocking chair
    the chachemire shawl

  16. Lovely image Polona. A lot to learn from all the wordsmithing and appleography *^D

    did he just blush
    when asking the way?
    .
    all but one page folded down
    in a thrift store romance novel
    .
    imagining far away
    where your path and mine…

    1. thank you, Jackie.
      it’s good to have experienced leaders who can tweak a potentially flawed verse into a contender as well as experienced participants who can further smooth it out.
      .
      thanks again to Linda and Lorin
      🙂

  17. overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    (Polona Oblak)
    anybody seen
    the golden horned goat
    (Guliz Mutlu)

  18. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves
    ***
    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it
    ***
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    ***
    gentle glows
    a gorgeous touch of magic

  19. a row of icicles
    blue sky and sunshine
    dripping from the eaves

    on Earth Day, deep breaths
    for the scent of it

    see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    ***
    gentle glows
    a gorgeous touch of magic

  20. the pop pop pop
    of popcorn popping

    ************

    after the pajama party
    they’re new best friends

  21. My entries-

    fading track of plane
    into nothingness

    *

    sound of bouncing ball
    amid shouts of kids

  22. overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    (Polona Oblak)
    now happiness
    a fragrant talisman
    (Guliz Mutlu)
    a girl writing a wish
    on a ribbon
    (Guliz Mutlu)
    polka dots and ribbons
    of colorful dresses
    (Guliz Mutlu)

  23. A lovely verse Polona
    and I am inspired by it suggestion of magical transformation
    .
    .
    a darkened stage
    for the magician’s next trick

    1. Pomona, the lovely visuals of your verse immediately reminded me of our excitement as children when we woke up to find our garden covered in snow (which we don’t experience very often here on the north-east coast of Ireland)
      .
      at the school gate
      boys trading in gum

      1. Oops, sorry, Simon! I’m typing on a phone and have managed to post here instead of in a new thread. Love your magician, btw. 🙂
        .
        marion

  24. talk of weather
    turned into grand children

    to many choices
    the tea pot whistle

    leaves on my wall
    a family tree

    1. not sure how this editor works so will re-post again, sorry

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      talk of weather
      turned into grand children

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      to many choices
      the tea pot whistle

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      leaves on my wall
      a family tree

      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      1. Yes, it’s annoying that WordPress doesn’t honor paragraph spacing in the comments, isn’t it?

  25. a few snowflakes
    melting on the buds
    (Guliz Mutlu)

    overnight
    the apple orchard
    turns all blossom
    (Polona Oblack)

    blossoms till the world
    a fragrant talisman
    (Guliz Mutlu)

  26. Congratulations on a fine verse Polona. Between you a Lorin I think you have worked out a solution to a verse that falls easier on the ear.
    *********************************************************
    the breadth of hair
    between dusk and dawn
    ************************
    from atop the Ferris wheel
    an entire town
    ************
    waging how many
    will make maturity

  27. Congratulations, Polona. There’s a magical quality, a sense of wonder in your verse which is very satisfying. Because of ‘overnight’ plus the use of simple present tense it’s like a narrative line in a story, perhaps a children’s story.
    .
    Linda, I note and understand your reasons for ‘wordsmithing’, but there’s something odd about what happens when the imperative ‘see how’ is added to something that happens ‘overnight’. The event (the orchard turning to blossom overnight) becomes predictive. Someone is about to demonstrate how something happens and we are instructed in advance what to look at, but it hasn’t yet happened.
    .
    The problem probably does not arise in Japanese, but we’re writing and reading English. It’s often been remarked that the English language is much concerned with time. So, keeping “see how”, I suggest using present perfect, an alternative that works in English:
    .
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard has turned
    all blossom
    .
    or abbreviation to the vernacular:
    .
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard’s turned
    all blossom
    .
    That would work for me, bringing the blossoming orchard back to the present (as it was in Polona’s version) rather than something predicted.
    .
    – Lorin

    1. That’s a good point and i will keep it in mind. I had been thinking of line 3 in past tense but opted to go lightly for the time being.

    2. thank you, Lorin, and, as you have already noticed, we were thinking along the same lines 🙂

  28. thank you, Linda, i’m delighted that you liked the verse.
    the edit works for me. 🙂
    just thinking that perhaps in this case present perfect would be more appropriate, like:
    .
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard
    has turned all blossom
    .

    but i’m fine either way…

    1. Well, there ya go! 🙂 While I was brooding on how to word my response, the very same issue and the same solution occurred to you, too, Polona.
      .
      I think I prefer the vernacular, but only because of the line break:

      .
      see how overnight
      the apple orchard’s turned
      all blossom
      .
      – Lorin

      1. good point about the vernacular version, Lorin. it brings variety in line length which, i’d say, is welcome 🙂

    2. That is exactly what I had been thinking. Okay, you and Lorin have convinced me. Will change it for the next post.

      1. Thanks, Linda. 🙂
        .
        Even without ‘overnight’, the imperative “see how” + simple present tense is iffy. Consider that it was commonly used by side-show barkers:
        .
        “Roll up, roll up! See how Magical Mervyn makes the Fat Lady vanish. “
        .
        . . . and is still commonly used to promote commercial ‘cures’ and the like on daytime television:
        .
        “See how the fruit of this rare Amazonian vine turns your flabby belly into a taut six-pack!”
        .
        It’s all about something that’s promised will happen in the future.
        .
        – Lorin

        1. Would the use of “look” make a difference? It seems less predictive, suggesting the orchard has already turned to blossom – or is that just me?
          .
          marion

          1. This is getting confusing, but I like your suggestion , Marion. Do you mean something like this—
            *
            Look!
            the apple orchard’s turning/ed
            all blossom
            ?
            From morning to evening the amount of bloom can be amazing.

          2. i agree about “look” being less predictive, Marion, but think a change of tense would still be needed, just about the way Carol suggested. 🙂
            personally i don’t mind tweaking and retweaking my verse in order to achieve optimal wording

  29. our cab passes a sign
    warning of a double curve
    .
    OR, more briefly put if that is needed
    .

    our cab passes
    a double curve sign

  30. I appreciate the use of apple blossom. I have no idea if Johnny Appleseed ever made an appearance in the Edo Period in Japan. Yet, in the US and elsewhere apple flowering is so characteristic of Spring. I see them not only in commercial groves, but in deep forest in the northern US — gone “wild” as it were. I expect that if the classic masters of haiku and renku knew this fruiting tree with a lovely bloom, they would have written of them.

    Thank you Polona and Linda.

    1. thank you, Paul.
      here apples usually bloom a little after the cherries and they truly are a pretty sight.
      almost every farm has a few apple trees so a drive through the countryside is a lovely experience at this time of the year 🙂

    2. Yes, Paul. when I was a child I lived in the mountains of Maryland and had an apple tree in the front yard which we climbed.I love the blossoms. Have you read Michael Pollen’s book, the Botany of Desire, or seen the PBS series based on it? There’s a fascinating section on Johnny Appleseed and the American frontier.

      1. Dear Linda — and Polona, no I have not had that reading or video pleasure. But the old tale is often told… some factual basis, I think.
        But, in the early days of the US westward expansion settlers did carry the plant forward.

        Years back I got to northern Maine, my cabins, a month early. A late ice-out. Early June, but that year spring was maybe 10 days late. Most leafy trees were bare or in small bud. Driving through small towns and beside deep woods I spotted apple blossoms — color glowing and standing out. No road or even path that I could see, but deep in forest places. My surmise is that many old abandoned farmsteads had grown over since the US Civil War. The rural human population then was larger than it is now… men went off to war. Many generations of apple trees…. and the birds and deer do spread the fruit. That special week it was the very essence of spring.

    3. Paul, there were no apples in Edo Period but they were first grown in Aomori in Northern Japan since the 1930s. The most popular apple in Japan in Fuji. It is surprisingly a hybrid cross between American (Red) Delicious and Virginia Ralls Genet. They became available in grocery stores in the early 1960s. I often ate them in Japan and they are much larger than the Fuji which is now sold in the US.

      1. Interesting, Carmen.

        I do know that Oregon and your home State of Washington export a lot of apples to Asia. Japan seems interested only in “primo” products and pays a good price. This fruit does have a pretty surface, too.

        .
        Thank you, – Paul

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