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The Renku Sessions: Imachi – Week 6

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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 5:

Twenty participants submitted to verse 5, and again we’ve added a few more participants.  And once again all the ideas in the offers made for a delightful read. Several for this and for the previous verse have featured children, which I take as a signal from our hive-mind that children are needed about now in the renku.  The verse I’m placing is Paul MacNeil’s.  Here it is with its maeku and uchikoshi:

see how overnight
the apple orchard’s turned
all blossom

opening my journal
to a blank page

the boy carrying
the sousaphone
almost disappears

It’s so keenly visualized with warmth and humor that I’m reminded of my own middle school’s band.  Last week they went out to practice marching around the neighborhood in preparation for Palo Alto’s annual May Fete parade. Yes Paul’s description is just what I saw–sousaphones bringing up the rear and the instruments larger than the kids playing them.

More important, though, is what this verse brings to the renku and moves it forward.  “The point here is not that longer renku poems must use the jo-ha-kyu pacing paradigm. But that they need a pacing paradigm,” wrote John Carley. “The eighteen verses of an Imachi, in the absence of a conscious control of speed and impact, almost inevitably carry more than a hint of the amorphous. . . [they] demand a structured approach to modulation, not just of individual verses, or pairs of verses, but of discrete passages of verse.”

As you’ll have noticed in my explanations of choices up till now, I’ve been looking for verses that actively recast the imagery of the maeku to create the sense of flow that John called for. Paul’s verse achieves this too, but in a way that feels marks not so much continuation than a change of direction as we enter the ha phase of our renku.  The action in the maeku is the opening of a journal—presumably to sketch or write about apple blossoms—but now the scene abruptly shifts to a parade. I’m standing curbside, journal open, just as a school marching band goes by. The blare of brass heralds more to come.  It’s delightful–thank you, Paul!

 

So here is our renku to date:

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

on Earth Day, deep breaths
for the scent of it
~Lorin Ford

see how overnight
the apple orchard’s turned
all blossom
~Polona Oblak

opening my journal
to a blank page
~Maureen Virchau

the boy carrying
the sousaphone
almost disappears
~Paul MacNeil

 

Call for verse 6:

Here is the maeku/uchikoshi pairing:

opening my journal
to a blank page

the boy carrying
the sousaphone
almost disappears

 

Specifications for Verse 6:

  • Two lines, uncut, and non-seasonal
  • Link to Paul’s verse 5; shift away from Maureen’s blank journal page
  • Either person or non-person verse–what do you see for us at this point in the renku?
  • The ha is a time to think of topics that we would not have used in the jo: person or place names, literary references, politics and human affairs, current events, religion,  illness or calamity.

 

What to avoid:

  • Verse 6 should NOT include imagery from the uchikoshi: first person, journal, blank page, opening a book or indeed opening anything, and references to writing or other journal-like activities.
  • Anything in the hokku is off limits till the end of the renku. This means no icicles or cold things, no dripping or falling things, single rows of things, sky, color blue, sun, roof or other parts of a building.

 

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, 21 May, Eastern USA time.
  • The selected verse will be announced the following Thursday morning: 24 May, Eastern US time.

Happy writing!

Linda

This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Thank you, everyone, for another great batch of ideas. The window for posting submissions is now closed. See you Thursday!

  2. a marine fog covers
    the camping grounds
    .
    Though fog covers the camping grounds and tents cannot be seen (like the boy not being seen behind the large instrument), I’m concerned that “covers the camping grounds” is too much like “the apple orchard’s turned all blossom,” so I will cancel this verse.

  3. the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    .
    Paul MacNeil
    .
    school marching bands
    outdo the floats
    .
    a marine fog covers
    the camping grounds

  4. the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    *
    Harry beams at Meghan
    the power of love
    *
    she walks herself
    down the aisle
    *
    we learn a new word:
    laze

    1. make that:
      .
      with that same ole cheshire grin
      at Alice’s restaurant

      1. That’s cool, Linda! The surrounding schools come out to the park I’m volunteering at and part of their learning involves creating their own pictograph on pieces of sedimentary rock.

  5. I’m not sure if we are limited to three offerings. If so, please ignore these and accept my apology, Linda.
    .
    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears (Paul MacNeil)
    .
    .
    no way to outrun
    the fury of Hades
    .
    .
    no way to outrun
    Mount Kilauea’s fury
    .
    .
    volcanoes and shooters
    jolt us awake

  6. What a great image, Paul–you captured it perfectly. Congratulations!
    .
    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    .
    –Paul MacNeil
    .
    .
    garlands of white roses
    bring Diana to his mind
    .
    .
    white roses and forget-me-nots
    in memory of his mum
    .
    .
    Americans puzzle over
    the Order of the Garter

  7. *
    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    *
    angry tears flow
    from Florida to Texas

  8. a bride , quietly alone,
    goes up to the temple
    ***
    on the cinema poster
    “The Phantom of the Opera”
    ***
    the homage of a pigeon
    on the elegant dress

  9. the patients on the ward
    call it Catheter City
    *
    it’s been 6 months
    since his last confession
    *

  10. the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    .
    – Paul MacNeil
    .
    Harry in his uniform
    every inch the Prince
    .
    – Lorin

  11. Congratulations, Paul. Now that I know the name of the instrument 🙂
    .
    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    ~Paul MacNeil
    .

    Sergeant Pepper
    at the seniors’ meet-up
    .
    – Lorin

  12. Congratulations, Paul.

    *

    flags for human rights
    in clouds of toxic smoke

    *

    he was always better
    at addition than subtraction

    *

    emergency workers run
    out of medicines

  13. voices of people on the street
    on the day of voting
    ——————————-
    a footrace
    through the streets of the historic center

    1. Correction:

      Verse 1:
      Friday school shooter
      hides his father’s gun

  14. Great image Paul with a nice touch of humour. Reminds me of the kid in our old school band on the bass drum nearly as big as himself.
    .
    .
    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    .
    ~ Paul MacNeil
    .
    .
    thoughts of infinity
    between barber shop mirrors

  15. My note to thank Linda has gone poof. It did run at noon or so. As I recall, I thanked her for the selection and the kind words … I thanked Carol too. Ahh the mysteries of life …. and the Internet.

  16. Well, I’ve learnt something new by googling. 🙂 I’d not come across the word sousaphone before in my life. Here’s a link just in case there’s anyone else as uninformed as I was:
    .
    http://www.sousaphone.net/sousaphone-history.htm
    .
    LInda, I’ve read your comments and understand them. But I have a problem, not with sousaphone, but with “almost disappears“.
    .
    (uchikoshi)
    see how overnight
    the apple orchard’s turned
    all blossom
    ~Polona Oblak
    .
    (maeku)
    opening my journal
    to a blank page
    ~Maureen Virchau
    .

    the boy carrying
    the sousaphone
    almost disappears
    ~Paul MacNeil
    .
    So we have the seemingly magical overnight appearance of the apple orchard’s blossoms in our uchikoshi and a boy who “almost disappears” in Paul’s added verse. Sorry, but this immediately leaps out at me! Written over two lines, this verse would be a good contender to follow Polona’s verse. Anything that “. . . disappears” (qualified by “almost” or not) could be the foundation of a suitable maeku to Polona’s verse, but to my understanding, any link to the uchikoshi is to be completely avoided. The added verse must shift away from, must have no connection with, its uchikoshi. See John Carley’s Renku Reckoner p 82 -84, ‘Link and Shift: an Overview -nothing more fundamental’.
    .
    So, Linda, I have to ask you: ” Why? “Why has this clear example of return to last-but-one slipped through your net ? And is it possible to fix it?
    .
    – Lorin

    1. I did consider that but decided that appear/disappear is still forward momentum. Different sabakis make different judgment calls.

      1. I don’t understand, Linda. Of course different sabaki will make different judgements and select different verses from the array offered, and tweak if needed or desirable. Also, yes, ‘disappear’ would be ‘forward momentum’ if the verse being linked to was Polona’s verse. But here, the verse being linked to is Maureen’s ‘blank page’, with Polona’s verse being the uchikoshi.
        .
        One of your specifications was: ““Link to Maureen’s blank journal page; shift away from Polona’s apple orchard”
        .
        Taking us back to, returning to, Polona’s verse, our uchikoshi, is supposed to be verboten, if I understand things correctly.
        .
        “In contemporary renku there are three basic principles which counteract repetition: uchikoshi (more properly kannonbiraki); sarikirai; and torinne.
        .
        The late and truly great Master Meiga Higashi identified uchikoshi as the sine-qua non of renku composition. He proposed that even if every other convention and consideration were disregarded any piece of poetry which respected ideas of uchikoshi would have to be treated as renku. Personally I think he was being too liberal, but he was a Master. . .
        .
        The principal of uchikoshi (kannonbiraki) means that there should be no similarity between added verse and last-but-one, other than possibly belonging to the same seasonal segment, or to the ‘love’ section.” JEC (and more, easily accessible, here:
        .
        https://poetrysociety.org.nz/affiliates/haiku-nz/haiku-poems-articles/archived-articles/introduction-to-renku/
        .
        So are you saying that if a sabaki so chooses, the principle of ‘kannonbiraki’ can be ignored?
        .
        – Lorin

  17. Congratulations Paul, nicely done
    ****************************
    Gabriel continues
    warming up in the wings
    *********************
    Take Five on Sunday
    classic jazz
    ****************
    “on a long long road from
    which there is no return”

    1. Thanks Michael Henry — another rare Dave Brubeck fan! I still have that album on vinyl.

      1. Take 5 is a big part of my high school orchestra memories. The brass and wind players used to warm up and improv on it.

        1. PS–love the musical reference in the “long long road” verse, too–I’ve been comparing all the different covers for the song, most of which are on YouTube now. Agree with those who say the Hollie’s (with Elton John on piano) is still the best:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl5vi9ir49g

        2. I can still remember the first time I heard that track. I was in a cinema in Bristol during my university years and the music featured in an ad for Barcardi. I thought it was amazing and simply had to find out what it was. I think I played it for the whole year I lived there!

  18. Congratulations Paul, a fitting verse to take us somewhere exciting. A wonderful visual.
    Well done 🙂

  19. on whitsuntide day
    kindling the camp fire

    *
    with much tumult it begins
    the World Championship

    *

    the volcanos erupt again
    in the isles of Hawai

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