The Renku Sessions continue on The Haiku Foundation. I am Patricia Machmiller and I am honored to be your guide for an eighteen-verse renku, in which we will compose one verse per week until completion. A few people have asked which format we’ll be using; it will be the demikasen as documented by John Carley.
To quote John Stevenson: “Renku is a kind of game for poets, through which a collaborative poem is created. Succeeding verses are written by different contributors. Throughout the entire work, each new verse connects in some way with the one preceding it but with no others. A renku is not narrative in nature. Rather, it has been likened to traveling down a winding river, in which we know where we have been and which way we must turn to follow the river, but not yet where or in which direction we will have to turn next.”
I regard a renku session as a party for writers. As at any party, we gather to enjoy each other’s company, to socialize, to share ideas and opinions, gossip a little, eat, imbibe, grouse even, but in the end we want to leave the party upbeat with the desire to return again. The renku develops like a party. The first verse is written in homage to the place where it is written. The second is written acknowledging the guests arrival. The first four to six verses all have a feeling of decorum: as at the beginning of any party the talk is light and hot-button issues are avoided. In keeping with the small talk, we avoid using proper nouns in these verses. When the party warms up (this might be as early as verse five; it will definitely be by verse seven—we’ll see what develops), the verses will become less restrained and all topics will be entertained. The energy of the poem, as often conversations do, will build and ebb and build and ebb and build again until about verse 16 or 17. Verse 18 will bring the poem to a close; whether it will be a blow-out verse or a quiet denouement will depend on what has come before.
If you are new to renku, I would like to welcome you and to ask you to remember that this is a party and the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the company and the process. And whether you are new to renku-writing or experienced, I look forward to meeting you through your writing.
Please submit verses for the starting verse (hokku). Imagine that you are a guest arriving at a party located where you are, and you want to make a memorable verse about it. Here are the requirements:
- a three-line poem of seventeen syllables or less
- an image that suggests winter (for poets in the northern hemisphere) or summer (for poets in the southern hemisphere)
- a two-part structure – two different images, separated by punctuation (a comma, dash, ellipsis, etc.) or by a line break that clearly indicates a break in the syntax.
Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Tuesday, February 25 (California time zone). On Thursday, February 27, there will be a new posting containing my selection for our opening verse, some discussion of other appreciated verses, and instructions for composing the second verse.
I look forward to seeing your offers! And thank you, John, for your help in making this whole thing work.