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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 22

renkuchainWelcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Fifth Renku Session: New Calendar. I am John Stevenson, leading my second Kasen (36 verse) renku on this site. We will be trying something a little different this time. Instead of making all of the selections myself, new verses will be selected by the poet who wrote the preceding verse. This will be on a voluntary basis and I remain ready to preform this task for anyone who prefers to pass up the opportunity.

Michael Henry Lee makes the selection this week. Here is his selection, with comments:

“My selection for verse 21:

recalling where they were
on Jerusalem Day

        1. –Debbie Feller

It is an honor to again be selecting the next verse of this wonderful renku. John’s decision, as renku master, to include this element in an already collaborative endeavor enhances the experience from both sides of the equation. Allowing the contributor an opportunity to articulate the reasoning for their selection provides a real “baptism” into the spirit of this renku. Thank you, John, for your insight, Paul for selecting my verse, everyone for their commentary and, of course, the splendid verse submissions.

I felt this next verse should steer clear of humor and, if possible, incorporate a reference requiring a little research to fully appreciate, and of course, link and shift from the preceding verse.

Lorin Ford’s verse was intriguing and I interpreted it to mean a crossword clue for “Macbeth.” Mary Kendall’s first Joan of Arc poem had merit though we already had a strong French reference in verse seven’s “droit du seigneur.” Polona Oblak’s “fumarole” poem was a strong contender as well. However, at the end of the day, it was Debbie Feller’s recalling where they were / on Jerusalem day that checked off all the boxes. Debbie’s verse employs a subtle link by providing a specific point in time along each individual’s maturation process. Most of us were well on the path to young adulthood when the Israeli 1967 Six Day War to reunite the city of Jerusalem occurred; a watershed moment in world history that I vividly remember as a sophomore in high school. Israel is a country we have yet to encounter in our renku, nor war as a subject. Debbie’s reverent matter of fact treatment of this verse continues to open our renku up from the inside out. Thank you, Debbie.”

Thank you, Michael Henry and congratulations, Debbie!

Debbie Feller will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Debbie, please contact me, either in a reply below or by e-mail ( to let me know whether you accept this offer. If you do, I will ask you to choose the next verse in accordance with the requirements listed below and to write a paragraph or two about your selection and send it to me on Wednesday morning (June 7) so that I can incorporate it in the next posting, which appears on the following day. If you would rather not make the selection, I will do so, but I would prefer to know that I’ll be doing that as early as possible

Verse twenty-three will be the first of two winter verses. It will be written in three lines. These will be the only winter verses in our renku, so feel free to put some chill into them!

Verse twenty-three must link to the twenty-second verse (and only the twenty-second verse) but it also must clearly shift away from it in terms of scene, subject, and tone.

You will have until Tuesday night to make your offers. The Haiku Foundation site has been busy lately and the link to our renku session has not always been obvious on the home page. There is a permanent “Renku Sessions” button a little further down the home page and you can always reach the current session via this route. We will continue to check for new verse offers through each Tuesday.

With best wishes to all,


New Calendar to Date

new calendar
a year of
“Natural Wonders”

    –John Stevenson

a clownfish offers
the first greeting

    –Peter Newton

taking a fistful
of freshly tilled earth
to my cheek

    –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

café aromas
on the warm breeze

    –Maureen Virchau

sound of a flute
slowly rising
with a hazy moon

    –Dru Philippou

flickering light of a bike
from the side road

    –Marina Bellini

under the bed-sheet
tales of bold highwaymen
and horse-drawn coaches

    —Lorin Ford

has the lord executed
his droit du seigneur

    —Polona Oblak

Jimmy Carter
and Rosalynn
on the kiss cam

    —Judt Shrode

after the picnic
some spirited croquet

    —Michael Henry Lee

the old quarry
so deep and cold
and daring

    —Mary Kendall

her scars stay hidden
though the neckline plunges

    –Debbie Feller

each time I wake
the moon lights
something different

    —Gabrielle Higgins

the whir of dragonfly wings
in the remaining heat

    —Sally Biggar

a neutrino
passes through the chestnut
and the worm, too

    —Lorin Ford

the tension of the needle
piercing linen

    —Carmen Sterba

Dutchman’s breeches
sprout along a cliff’s
ragged edge

    —Maureen Virchau

six pairs of boots
by the pilgrim shrine

    –Polona Oblak

in full flight
fledglings skim
through the archway

    –Barbara A. Taylor

my toddler puts her milk glass
on the kitchen counter

    –Paul MacNeil

on the store’s intercom
comes a cleanup request
for aisle thirteen

    –Michael Henry Lee

recalling where they were
on Jerusalem Day

    –Debbie Feller

This Post Has 65 Comments

  1. i don’t know why, Lorin, but you seem to pick up a fight whenever a calendar reference is mentioned in this renku.
    we are of different opinions as to whether a calendar date represents a seasonal reference or not. to me, it always does, whether the date has ever been mentioned in some saijiki or not.
    you have every right to think otherwise and i’m not going to argue that.
    i’ll repeat one thing, though, and then i rest my case.
    calendar in the hokku?

  2. “in my opinion, unknown season does not equal non-season”
    “not a seasonal reference does not mean a non-seasonal reference ?” – Polona

    True, anywhere in the world at any specific calendar date, past or present, is or has been subject to nature’s seasons. That much is uncontested and can’t be disputed. When it comes to assigning a season to a calendar date or a human observance things get fuzzier unless we follow a traditional Japanese saijiki, where everything is centred on one region: Kyoto. Kigo is an authorized convention. That is to say: an authority declares what season & what part of a particular season applies to nearly everything under the sun, including human activities.

    I think you’re spitting hairs, Polona. In a renku there are verses designated ‘non-seasonal’ or ‘all seasons’ or ‘no season’ and these do equate with ‘season unknown’ or ‘season not an important factor’. The terms means one thing as far as Japanese renku goes: a kigo is not used in a ‘no season’ verse.

    In a renku there are also ‘love’ verses. ‘Love’ verses are also ‘non-seasonal’, ‘no season’ ,’all seasons’ or ‘any season’. If we want to be forensic, Jude’s “kiss cam” verse that you selected is associated with summer in the USA, via the sport, baseball. Does that mean that Jude’s verse is a seasonal verse? Should it be disqualified as a ‘love’ verse?

    We can also hunt down the season in which an historical event occurred if we know where in the world it occurred. On November 22, 1963, President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, USA. I remember where I was when that happened. You can hunt down the USA season in which that assassination occurred but you can’t assume to know where I was, so you can’t allocate a season to my recollection of where I was.

    And we can’t allocate a season to people’s recollections of where they were on Jerusalem Day, which is the subject of Debbie’s verse. We can’t even assume that these people were all of the same religious or political persuasion and we would be very wrong to assume that all Jewish people are Zionists, anyway. Debbie’s verse is open, ambiguous in the positive sense of ambiguity and it has nothing to do with any of the seasons of the natural world. Michael made an excellent choice, in my view.

    – Lorin

  3. I’ve been ‘away’ and catching up on the comments & discussion now is interesting.
    I’ll stick to ‘season indications/ kigo’ & avoid other issues.

    The obvious: renku (& haiku) evolved in Japan and human activities & national observances were slotted into the traditional Chinese calendar. What season whales? To this day, for the Japanese, ‘whales’ imply winter no matter what season it happens to be where the whaling is happening. Summer whaling in the Southern Ocean doesn’t matter because in the Japanese convention, when it’s winter in Japan it’s winter wherever a Japanese whaling ship/factory happens to be.

    So what do we do when we attempt international renku? Copy an insular, nationalistic convention? Declare that Buddha’s birthday is in spring, Christ’s in winter, etc?

    Let’s not forget that the four seasons are also a convention. Many world regions have eight, some just two.

    Someone has said that war is a season unto itself. It’s not a ‘season’ connected, however conventionally, to the events and changes of the natural world. No-one declares, “The roses are in bloom: let’s start another war.” Neither are other political or historical events, or human events/experiences like love, death, mourning, human birth, etc. etc. Only on a local level can human events or observances be associated with nature’s seasonal cycles.

    In Debbie’s verse, which is a true non-seasonal verse, the people “recalling where they were on Jerusalem Day” could’ve been in all sorts of places in many world regions. Most of them probably became aware of it by radio or tv news, or the morning newspaper.
    Which of the seasons of nature it happened to be in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day is beside the point.

    – Lorin

    1. New Year’s is not a season…it is one day. Yet, we All entered into the fiction of its seasonality quite readily…not one word of disquiet from the get go of this renku. John discussed his hokku based on Higginson’s THE FIVE HUNDRED
      ESSENTIAL JAPANESE SEASON WORDS. And what makes a clownfish’ first greeting New Yearsy, I could’ve easily asked? All those ‘first’ offerings were just so much fiction IMO but we all drank the koolaid for John’s choice. Why the ongoing high horse since many of your seasonal verse offerings (both here and in the previous renkus) are/were pulled from Higginson’s kigo article?
      I live year round in a recreational vehicle and volunteer at a state park in west Texas that encompasses 3 biomes…Chihuahan desert, Tamaulipian brushlands, and Edwards Plateau oak and juniper grasslands. Currently, the past 4000 years, the climate has favored Chihuahan desert flora and fauna but for the past 3 years, we’ve experienced weather that supports increased rain and the flora is changing to reflect that. Hiking/camping here is a fall, winter, and spring activity…certainly, a few hardy souls attempt the trails in summer but for the most part, the park is sparsely visited then and for good reason. People travel here from all over the world for that very reason…hiking is a year round activity, period.
      The kiss cam occurs in all major sports because of technology…not just a baseball association anymore.
      So, for the most part, I engage in the fiction of Higginson’s Japanese kigo…embrace it…worm cry and all…in order to follow and participate in this renku. Otherwise, all this (for example) fall color, winter snow, and certain types of flowers for spring that occurs in other parts of the country and the world are just as constricting for me as Kyoto, Japan’s kigo based flora, fauna, and human based activities.
      I agree with your assessment that “recalling” lifts the verse from being seasonal and stated as such. My qualm was that it took us back to the hokku via a calander association.
      Peace out.

      1. yes, Betty … a new calendar implies the beginning of a new year (not necessarily a new season), wherever we are, whatever nature’s season, whether we are in the tropics or anywhere else. It’s not a ‘ season of nature’ reference. New Year/ new calendar works for all climate zones. ‘New year’ is a human season, world-wide.

        John’s hokku leaves ‘season of nature’ open. Wherever we’re located , we can look forward to a year of “natural wonders”. . . even in these times when some of those wonders might have little precedent.

        ‘first greetings’ are also associated with new year rather than with a season of nature. I have no problem with the clownfish, though they’re not first-footers. Clownfish inhabit the reefs year round. (But the coral is dying, everything in a reef effects everything else… one day, maybe the only clownfish left will be the captives in aquariums.)

        Poor bloody polar bear mothers, though, whatever the season is supposed to be up there our influence on the environment has made it increasingly difficult for them.

        – Lorin

        1. Just reading all these comments now and wondering if anyone associates St Patrick’s Day with a season. It is celebrated all over the world but here in Ireland, the 17th of March can be dry, wet, windy or sunny – and sometimes a combination of all of these. I also remember one year the local priest looking up at a few falling snowflakes and said, “All we need now is some green snow!” :)


    1. I like the softened line, how we are softened, not just the natural world.

    1. Thank you, Marietta! I can feel this and hear someone yelling to shut the door!

    1. Thank you for your verses, Marilyn! I really liked the images of the whiteout and the slate roofs!

    1. Oh gosh . . .this reminds me of why I like summer better! Great verse, Michael!

  4. in reference to my last comment :for what little it’s worth, i meant to say season verse, expressly summer. Otherwise it would make little sense. i’m not looking for arguments just a better understanding of the “rules”
    i would also be remiss by not adding that,; i selected Debbi’s verse because of the reasons previously listed, not to generate controversy warranted ,or not.
    Thank you all for your patience
    Over and out

    1. Hi Michael, I did find it odd but chose to focus on the “recalling” to warrant lifting it from a seasonal reference even though it does take us back to the hokku as Polona stated.
      And interestingly, as a holiday, its date is not fixed to the month of June but is celebrated in May so works more as a Spring reference given its specificity to Israel.

      Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel

      Yom Yerushalayim, also known as Jerusalem Day, commemorates Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967. This day begins on 28th day of the month of Iyyar in the Hebrew calendar.

      Yom Yerushalayim
      Yom Yerushalayim is a public holiday in Israel but is observed by many Jewish people worldwide.
      Yom Yerushalayim is a public holiday in Israel but is observed by many Jewish people worldwide.
      © Slobodkin
      What Do People Do?
      Yom Yerushalayim is marked with a range of events in many Jewish communities. These include: recitations of the Hallel prayer for praise and thanksgiving in synagogues; street parades, parties, singing and dancing; special meals; and lectures on the history and future of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, a public reception by the mayor of Jerusalem, state ceremonies and memorial services for those who died in the Six-Day War are also held. In Israel, some people mark the occasion by traveling or even hiking to Jerusalem.
      Advertising: Content continues below ad.

      Public Life
      Yom Yerushalayim is a public holiday in Israel. It is not a public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States. However, many Jewish organizations may be closed or offer a limited service so special events can be held.
      After Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked by the neighboring Arab countries, resulting in the Arab-Israeli War. At the end of this war, the city of Jerusalem was divided. Israeli forces controlled most of the city and East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was controlled by Jordanian forces. The Old City was important for strategic and religious reasons, as many sites of religious importance are in this part of the city. These include: the Dome of the Rock and al-Asqa Mosque (Muslims); the Temple Mount and the Western Wall or Kotel (Jewish); and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Christian).
      On June 7, 1967, one day into the Six-Day War, Israeli forces captured the old city of Jerusalem. This resulted in the reunification of Jerusalem as part of Israel. According to the Hebrew calendar, it was the 28th day of the month of Iyar in the year 5727 and the anniversary of this date is known as Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day.
      The 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem was in 2007. The slogan for the celebrations in this year translates as “Something special for everyone”, with a play on the Hebrew words for “special” and “united”. A special logo representing the number 40 and the city walls was presented and the approach to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv was decorated with blue lighting.
      Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) Observances
      Select another year-range:Show
      Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
      Wed May 12 2010 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Wed Jun 1 2011 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Sun May 20 2012 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Wed May 8 2013 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Wed May 28 2014 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Sun May 17 2015 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Sun Jun 5 2016 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Wed May 24 2017 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Sun May 13 2018 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Sun Jun 2 2019 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew
      Fri May 22 2020 Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) National holiday, Hebrew”

      Kind regards,

      1. Thank you Betty I learned a lot more than I knew before considering this very poignant observance

    2. Michael, it was never my intention to create controversy, just to point out possible issues the selected verse presents.

      in my view, any reference to a specific date / holiday / observance bears a seasonal reference, even though the season may not be clear.

      July 4th in New York, Paris, Vladivostok? – definitely summer
      July 4th in Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Cape Town? – definitely winter
      July 4th in Denpasar, Bali? surely winter, though what “winter” means in that part of the world has little to do with the seasons as we know them in more temperate climates

      July 4th in an international renku? – not a clear seasonal reference unless the location is known. and in my opinion, unknown season does not equal non-season
      but of course, it all depends on a general agreement between participants

      i would also like to hear what the more experienced think about this issue :)

      1. It is always hard to balance localism v. general vis-a-vis seasonal things. Since we are on an assigned winter verse… snow and ice are not known in Bali or Singapore… but still such verses would have meaning to many, even down under… People snow ski in Australia, yes?

        As to a date for giving seasonality… the 4th of July is only a big deal in the USA. Probably a lot of the world is aware of it, but it can be nothing else but a summer kigo. Maybe this way… if the phrase Fourth of July means anything to any reader/player then it means the US anniversary of Independence. Even in the earliest years towns had celebrations with fireworks, food, drink, and speeches. The Declaration of Independence was often featured.

        The same can be said for le Quatorze Juillet… otherwise know as Bastille Day, 14 July. I am not a French Citizen, but I am certainly aware of that Day… and the history of the French Revolution. Many educated people will know both country’s celebrations. Christmas has a bit of universality to it, not for all peoples. The placement of Jewish and Islamic holidays float against the modern calendar.

        Perhaps it is “safer” to rely on kigo and topics that are not tied to only one place or culture, but we alway have to walk a tightrope. By the same token that some advocate using Google to understand a verse, this can also apply to season words. Best to not be too seriously literal … we are playing [at the game of Renku] not judging a contest. Whether we have by consent just one leader or rotating ones (such as what John has set up here), the stanza choice or instructions by that person is final… and that leader can bend rules… or even — GASP — make a mistake. WE can keep on………. remembering that Variety in all things is key.

        1. words of wisdom, Paul, thanks for that.
          btw, July 4th was a national holiday in the former Yugoslavia, though for different reasons than in the US :)

  5. i enjoyed the verse and Michael’s commentary, and think it would make a great link in other circumstances.
    however, am i the only one who sees problems with the selection?
    the six-day war took place in june 1967 and Jerusalem Day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem at about the same time each year. June in the northern hemisphere (where Israel certainly is) is early summer so i don’t understand how a verse with a precise seasonal reference can stand in a non-seasonal position.
    also, as has been said before in this renku’s comment sections, we have calendar prominently featured in the hokku, so any other calendar reference further on is problematic at best.
    of course the selection should stand but i think the inconsistencies should be noted so that we can all be aware of them and learn to avoid them in the future.

    1. I appreciate your concern and my selection did consider that potential issue, my justification however plebian it might be, was June in the southern hemisphere is considered fall/ winter, while in the Northern, Spring/ Summer. Speaking on a world level June at least from my limited understanding bares no specific seasonal reference. I admit it was a risk, but I felt it might be worth it.

      1. hmmm… i always thought every date on the calendar bears a seasonal reference. granted, the season is different depending on where on the globe you live but each day of the year belongs to one season or another.
        of course, it also depends on the way you look at seasons: traditionally, like the Japanese do, where solstices and equinoxes are mid-points of a season; astronomically, where solstices and equinoxes mark the beginning of a season, or some other way (where i live meteorological seasons begin on the first day of the month of the respective solstice or equinox)

        as for your argument that in the southern hemisphere a certain date would mean a different season, yes, of course this is true.
        but the location is defined in the verse: Israel. and Israel, to my knowledge, has always been in the northern hemisphere.


        1. So conversely in a ” world ” non seasonal reference renku, July 4th; kosher or not?

          1. either summer or winter, but in no way non-seasonal

            not a seasonal reference does not mean a non-seasonal reference :)

        2. Polona & Carmen,

          Yes, Jerusalem is a place. Certainly, any place is subject to nature’s cycle of seasons, but commemorations of Jerusalem Day might happen anywhere in the world.

          Also, Japanese renku have ‘non-seasonal’ verses. Say I’m in Tokyo and I put the kettle on to make a cup of tea: it could be any season, it has to be some season, but in writing a ‘non-seasonal’ verse I don’t refer to any season.

          A seasonal verse refers to a season. A non-seasonal verse doesn’t.

          “. . . the location is defined in the verse: Israel , . .” – Polona

          No, it isn’t. A historical political event commemorated as ‘Jerusalem Day’ , which occurred in Jerusalem, is named in Debbie’s verse. (We do not consider that ‘Christmas Day’ defines the location Bethleham, do we?)

          recalling where they were
          on Jerusalem Day

          –Debbie Feller

          People are recalling where they were on Jerusalem Day. Each may have been anywhere in the world, doing anything. People tend to remember where they were when they receive news of an event significant to them. (I recall where I was when the USA President Kennedy was shot. ) Some of these people may also be commemorating Jerusalem Day, which brings back the memories of where they were on the historical date.

          In Jerusalem, no doubt Jerusalem Day coincided with seasonal events in the natural world.
          But someone in Kansas recalling that they were photographing tigers in Sumatra on the historical Jerusalem Day is unlikely to have a clue as to seasonal phenomena in Jerusalem that day.

          – Lorin

    2. Polona, I also think the Jerusalem Day verse is seasonal. For example, Buddha’s birthday is considered a seasonal verse. It a day of note that comes at the same time every year. Jerusalem Day is not only remembered in Israel but for Jewish people around the world. Buddha’s Birthday is remembered not only in Asian countries but by Buddhists around the world.

    1. Oooops – on my phone here and didn’t see it should have been a three liner! ?

      falling on both sides
      of the peace wall

      1. By the way, my wall is in Belfast but I presume there can’t be two place names together?

        1. Marion, I would have to check with John, or maybe he will check in and reply, but I am thinking like you, that two place names aren’t used in consecutive verses. Thank you for your verses! I really like the virgin snow one!

  6. a deathly stillness
    as snow brings life
    to a halt
    an eerie stillness
    as snow brings life
    to a halt

    1. You did such a good job at capturing that feeling, Mary! Thank you for giving me great choices to pick from!

  7. Congratulations on this thoughtful verse, Debbie. It provides a wonderful shift for our verses. Michael Henry, I really enjoy reading your thoughts as you sorted through the verses. :)
    recalling where they were
    on Jerusalem Day
    –Debbie Feller
    snow fences
    already filled
    with silence

  8. Thank you , Michael, for choosing my verse from so many great ones! I have a friend in Jerusalem and she sends out letters describing what she observes. As she asked others where they were on this day, the answers were really touching.
    John, I would like to choose the next verse, even though I am new at this. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow!

    1. Thank you , Marina, for your verse! I don’t think we have photography or social media in a verse . . .yay!

  9. Michael, an excellent choice and commentary. Debbie’s verse brings sombre recollection of a political event, the contingencies of which are still being played out today.

    Thanks for your mention of my verse. No, it’s not a crossword clue, just a theatre superstition. :-) One refers to ‘the Scottish play’ rather than say that play’s title aloud, especially during rehearsals, to avoid bad luck. You got the right play. :-)

    – Lorin

    1. Thank you for your support and the “inside” on the Scottish play
      always a joy to learn something new

  10. Hi everyone. I’m starting the day with a test post, since I was having trouble with the last time I tried. I hope you are seeing this rather than I seeing an error message!

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