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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 30

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.

Lorin Ford makes this week’s selection:

“My thanks to everyone who submitted verses and especially those submitting for the first time and those who’ve continued to submit verses throughout the course of this renku.

Like Polona, I would’ve liked to include a new participant. Aparna Pathak’s verse offer was in the running but that ‘saucer’ kept taking me back to the ‘agar plates’ in the uchikoshi/ last- but- one verse, something I believe must be avoided at all costs.

The verse I’ve chosen after weighing the merits and demerits of all verses offered is likely to be controversial for two reasons: a) it contains a proper noun, the fourth if we include ‘Tolstoy’ and b) it includes a number lower than Michael’s ‘thirteen’. I believe the merits of this verse far outweigh these transgressions.

one last guess at
the weight of the Blue Hubbard

      1. –Peter Newton

On the ‘numbers’ issue: whilst ‘thirteen’ in Michael’s verse could be written as the numeral 13 (and probably would be in a store or supermarket) ‘one’, here, cannot be written as a numeral. It’s part of a common colloquial expression which has little to do with actual counting. (Consider “one last cigarette” etc.) Substituting the indefinite article would weaken what’s fresh and new about this verse: the down-to-earth bodily effort we experience when lifting something heavy, sometimes expressed in grunts and breathlessness.

Part of what draws me to Peter’s verse is that this sense of sheer physicality is enacted by each stressed syllable and by the line break, which conveys the heft. Form supports content.

How different it would feel to lift that pumpkin on the moon, where the gravity is about 17% of what it is on Earth. This implied contrast works as part of the link to the moon verse, but not the whole. We also have that roundish, blue-green, warty-skinned pumpkin which recalls the moon and the moon’s “seas” in shape and random surface pattern. Just for a brief moment the two images, pumpkin and moon, combine to propose the absurd notion of someone trying to lift the moon. The huge pumpkin is successfully lifted in line two, for however short a time (as long as it takes to say “the weight of the Blue Hubbard” seems about right to me), so an estimate of its weight can be made.

With these two lines a new place and a new occasion for our renku is implied. We’re at an agricultural fair or show and since the peak season for ‘winter squashes’/pumpkins is mid-autumn, we know the season. Though foregrounded here, participating in the ‘weight of the big pumpkin’ game is but one expression of the conviviality of such country events and is surrounded by the atmosphere of the whole. Everyone comes and there’s something for everyone: cake judging, country music, brew tasting, cattle dog and sheep dog trials, wood-chopping, staying on a bucking steer three seconds longer than one’s step-brother . . .  and much more.

I can’t think of a better place or mood for the high point of autumn or the concluding verse of our ha section.

Thank you, Peter.”

Peter Newton will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Peter, please contact me, either in a reply below or by e-mail (ithacan@earthlink.net) 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 (August 2, eastern US time) 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 thirty-one will be an autumn verse, written in three lines. This verse begins the “kyu” or closing section of our renku, which will consist of the final six verses. Of this section, Shinku Fukuda has written, “This part should be written calmly and pleasantly. Here again, we can say ‘we write in in suit and a tie’.”  A very strong shift in tone, to something serene and simple, will help to make this transition clear to readers.

Verse thirty-one must link to the thirtieth verse (and only the thirtieth 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,
John

 

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

snowflakes
falling north and south
of the peace wall

    —Marion Clarke

Tolstoy in Russian
by a roaring fire

    –Michael Henry Lee

could it be
that women prefer
a room with a view?

    —Karen Cesar

absinthe and “that look”
as they suck on sugar cubes

    –Betty Shropshire

date nights
purely
for conversation

    –Marietta McGregor

all the agar plates
contaminated

    –Polona Oblak

lunar maria
resolving into
the rabbit

    –Lorin Ford

one last guess at
the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    –Peter Newton

This Post Has 144 Comments

  1. (note: I “borrowed” 2 lines from an offering I made in 29 since I think they might fit better here)
    .
    in a field of fresh color
    my rake unearths
    the scent of passing time

  2. We have had mention of the British renku scholar John Carley and the modern Japanese renku Master, Shinku Fukuda. Both died not too long ago. A third renku specialist/scholar we’ve lost was William J. “Bill” Higginson.
    .
    Bill taught along the lines of diversity of topic and verse structure to vary, in no pattern, Person, Place, Thing. And person in English grammar represented by first, second, and third person. So far, we have only three obvious first person stanzas. A few in second person, with third person, place, and thing all well represented.
    .
    Variety in all things, variety is king.

    1. Paul, I agree with you about “variety in all things” but I don’t agree that we have only three obvious first person stanzas. You’re probably referring to the use of the first person pronoun + first person possessive pronoun? ( “I ” & “my”)

      But Peter’s verse #30, the one we’re linking to, clearly demonstrates first person speech as does Polona’s verse #8 (which should have a question mark after it)

      has the lord executed
      his droit du seigneur?

      and Karen’s verse #25

      could it be
      that women prefer
      a room with a view?

      The pronoun isn’t the only way to show clear first person, and too much of “I” “me” and “mine” in a renku stick out &, in my view, take the reader back.

      Beyond these 3 examples of direct first person ‘speech’ without a pronoun, many or most of the verses are statements or observations which imply first person narrator/ persona.

      And it is impossible to write anything in second or third person without quoting followed by “you said” or “he/she/ they/ Harry etc. said”. But you probably mean pronouns again: you, your, their, his/ her/ its, etc. ?

      – Lorin

      – Lorin

      – Lorin

    1. . .. saw them on the ABC News channel the other night: rescue dogs trained to hunt truffles in Tassie. 🙂

      – Lorin

      1. … but ‘hounds’ & ‘pig’ and any other animal might not have sufficient separation from ‘rabbit’, even the moon rabbit. Any animal here would ‘return to last-but-one verse,


        – Lorin

  3. the orchard floor
    carpeted in windfall
    apples, pears and bees
    .
    or
    .
    the orchard floor
    carpeted in windfall
    apples and pears

  4. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .
    .
    red dogwood berries
    stolen by a small flock
    of passing cedar waxwings

  5. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    – Peter Newton

    the mycologist
    points the way
    with a shroom

    – Lorin

      1. I didn’t think so, Marietta. He/she is clearly out on a ‘field trip’. Besides, so far in this renku we have no named profession or trade in this renku, and that would be a plus in its favour.

        If the ‘agar plates’/ assumed lab were in the last-but-one verse, yes, I’d agree. But we have the moon there.

        However, 🙂 the question is moot, since I wrote the verse & there’s a snowflake’s chance in hell I’d have another verse selected in this renku. 🙂 I wrote it just for fun, because it occurred to me & I liked it.

        (& check out the last renku, where the sabaki had 3 ‘recreational sports’ topics, each with just one verse between! That sort of thing has not happened in this renku, despite that most of us are amateurs)

        – Lorin

          1. Well, Marietta… you could try a ‘trade/ profession/ job/ occupation’ ku, too. 🙂


            – Lorin

  6. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    – Peter Newton


    much obliged
    to the southerly gusts
    for windfall apples

    – Lorin

  7. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    – Peter Newton

    mushroom hunters
    outstared by a mob
    of black baldies

    – Lorin

  8. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    – Peter Newton

    a mushroom hunter
    points the way
    with his pocket knife

    – Lorin

  9. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .

    –Peter Newton
    .
    .
    leaf upon leaf
    around the base
    of a gazing ball
    .
    Karen Cesar

    1. Possibly ‘ball’ & ‘gazing’ would be out, considering the moon in last-but-one, Karen?

      – Lorin

    1. Plums? That’d be around Christmas … in Victoria, and probably in Canberra too wouldn’t it, Marietta? Plums are a ‘summer’ fruit.

      – Lorin

  10. I do like the Blue Hubbard verse, Peter and Lorin. Congrats to both!
    About half-an-hour’s drive from Canberra, a tiny village called Collector has an annual Pumpkin Festival, attended by thousands. The squash that scoop the pool tend to be orange and taller than the kids who climb all over them.

      1. Nah, I know it’s after the event, but it wouldn’t have been an issue in any case, Betty, as our verses focus on different rustles! 😄

    1. even better, Marion 🙂

      scarecrows are a rare sight in fields these days, but the tales told when young will always remain.

      1. You still see the odd one round here, Carol, but I suspect in a lot of cases they’re just for fun – although I’m not totally sure. 🙂
        marion

  11. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .

    –Peter Newton
    .
    .
    the leaf blower
    .
    in a losing battle
    .
    with the maple
    .
    — Karen Cesar

    1. Oops 🙊
      .
      the leaf blower
      in a losing battle
      with the maple
      .
      –Karen Cesar
      .
      Or, if you think ‘leaf blower’ is too close to ‘breeze’,
      .
      the leaf raker
      in a losing battle
      with the oak
      .
      –Karen Cesar
      .
      * Of the two verses, I think I prefer this last one with the oak. 😊

      1. No way is a leaf blower close to a breeze! 🙂 One is pleasant, the other is clearly the invention of some misanthrope bent on disturbing the peace in the most assertive manner.

        Lorin

        1. the leaf blower
          winning the battle
          with the birches

          🙂 … that’s ‘birches’, with an r, not the other word with a t.

          – Lorin 🙂

      2. Also, unlike a breeze, a leaf blower comes attached to a man with an idiotic sense of purpose on his face and big earmuffs, whether he be council worker or neighbour. 🙂 He can’t hear your screams.

        – Lorin

      1. Hahaha – I was imagining a pen squeaking as a child draws a face on a balloon for a scarecrow’s head, Carol. It perhaps a field mouse has just been startled – which has given me another idea.,.

  12. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .
    –Peter Newton
    .
    tiny pilgrims
    and Indians lining up
    to go onstage
    .
    – Karen Cesar

  13. I was not aware of Blue Hubbords or the guessing game. Though I’m an American, I spent 32 years in Japan and know more about Japanese holidays and food than those of my country. Now after reading what Lorin said about the verse, I can appreciate Peter’s strong offering!

    1. It’s not just the USA & Australia, Carmen. Some places in Europe and Britain have dedicated ‘pumpkin festivals’ and Peter’s haiku might be placed in many countries. There’s an annual EL haiku competition from Croatia associated with a Pumpkin Festival:

      https://www.facebook.com/bucijada/posts/1000130746691868

      So it’s pretty much ‘down home’ for many world regions. 🙂 And yes, Peter’s verse is a ‘strong’ one. 🙂

      – Lorin

      1. I had a pumpkin haiku placed third in that contest one year, Lorin! 😀

        The only time we hear anything about pumpkins in Ireland is at Halloween when we buy one and carve it to make a spooky lantern. They often don’t have much inside them and are labelled “for decorative purposes only” so I’m guessing they’re either grown specifically for carving or are from a “failed” crop – but I don’t really know much about their cultivation … perhaps they’re imported?

        1. After Halloween the price drops and lot of folks buy them in the US for food as a vegetable and also to dry the seeds which make a fine snack, oven-toasted and salted. Inside is mostly guts, yucky, and seeds. Never seen one tending to be hollow. They are a squash, vine grown, and are nutritious. People who still can food (in jars — go figure) “put up” pumpkin flesh, peeled, and can freeze it too. Serve just like other squashes — good mashed and buttered (microwave works) maybe nutmeg and or brown sugar? Or as a one-crust pie . . .
          .
          My son-in-law grows a few in a small back-yard garden with herb, lettuces, etc.. Hard to stop them.

          1. “Inside is mostly guts” 🙂 🙂 🙂

            Perhaps those that we get are just old. They’re kind of cobwebby inside…creepy deepy things!

        2. yeah, Marion, we get them too, in supermarkets for Halloween (which, in Australia, is in spring) They’re easy to carve, bred for the purpose and totally inedible, unlike proper pumpkins. 🙂

          – Lorin

          1. Here in the states, they sell very small pumpkins called “sugar pumpkins.” Many of these are sold as decorations, of course, but the best way to use these little ones is to cook the flesh and make a pumpkin pie, pumpkin tea load/bread, pumpkin soup, etc. The huge ones for decoration are bred for that purpose–they do have seeds but their flesh is thin and dry.

            Oh, pumpkin is also wonderful in Moroccan cooking…yum!

          2. .. and there’s pumpkin scones, too, Mary (but from proper pumpkins, not those special Halloween ones)
            On the plain nutritional level, every kid in Australia has had pumpkin mashed in with their mashed potatoes from the beginning. 🙂

            – Lorin

          3. I’m sure if I looked I could find edible pumpkins, Lorin, as butternut squash is very popular – although that might not be from the same family?

          4. Marion, yes, butternuts are pumpkins. In the USA they sometimes call pumpkins ‘winter squashes’. I think pumpkins & squashes are of the same general family. But we know the difference between a zucchini / courgette (a ‘summer squash’) and a butternut or any other proper pumpkin. Harder flesh & rind, usually a shade of orange, harvested in Autumn & will easily keep through winter. without refrigeration.

            – Lorin

  14. corn dollies sway
    from the rafters
    in the barn

    *
    If you don’t mind I’ll continue till the end of this Kasen.
    Then I’m off to learn the complex rules that form the foundation of
    this wonderful genre, Renku 🙂

        1. Welcome. 🙃
          .
          My husband had a copy printed and bound for me. I like having a copy in hardbound to read and annotate. I also downloaded it to Cabinet and Kindle. 😂

          1. What a great idea. Thanks for the links. I’m still very much at a “learning stage” when it comes to renku, and these articles will be good for me to read and study.

            Mary 🙂

      1. Blimey, plenty to read on the subject, there. Thank you, Karen.

        I’ve seen renku reckoner on amazon, I’ll send for that one now you have mentioned it 🙂

        1. Yes, of the two, Renku Reckoner is the more readable. JEC had a wonderful way of making things understandable. If you can get your email to me, I can send you a PDF of the prototype he sent to friends and encouraged being distributed. I know you will want the hardbound one too though, and frankly, I don’t remember if the hardbound has more in it than the PDF.
          .
          Karen 😀

          1. That is so kind, Karen.
            I have no issue with sending you my email, but I have no idea how to get it to you –
            maybe one of the administrators could help. if not, thanks so much for your offer.

          2. Carol, if you can’t find Karen, send me an email to haikugourds at gmail dot.com (you’ll be able to figure that out but the robits can’t) and I’ll send you the pdf that JEC gave us with permission to share with friends.

            John:

            http://livinghaikuanthology.com/index-of-poets/livinglegacies/2710-john-e-carley.html

            He was a Yorkshire man…or was it Lancashire? Yikes, he’d murder me for not remembering the difference. 🙂 His favourite beer was ‘Sunshine’.

            I miss him.


            – Lorin

          1. If one get to the HSA Einbond site, navigation is easy to all the content since 2002 with most of the years having judging notes. No contest in one recent year. This Memorial contest dates a lot further back than 2002, but those are lost to the mists of time — except for the files of the participants. My first entry was 1999. Perhaps some dusty stack of papers owned by the Haiku Society of A. or former officers exist?? John might know . . . officers change annually and ALL are volunteers.

          2. “This Memorial contest dates a lot further back than 2002, but those are lost to the mists of time — except for the files of the participants.” – Paul

            Paul, lost to the HSA, perhaps, but I sourced the results of an early HSA Merit Books Award via and thanks to Charles Trumbull. I’ll wager he has the old Einbond results as well.

            – Lorin

          3. A great solution, Lorin. 👍 I hope Carol (and anyone else wanting a copy finds your link). I only have one email and for obvious reasons hesitate to post it in a public forum. 😀
            .
            Your 2013 HSA Bernard Lionel Einbond Renku Competition winner is a favorite Renku of mine, in particular John’s Sandra & John’s hokku/wakiku pair:
            .
            a line of ants
            in the courgette flower—
            early morning heat
            .
            Sandra
            .

            perhaps you’d care
            to share my parasol?
            .

            John

  15. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .

    –Peter Newton
    .
    a thick stack
    of construction paper leaves
    on teacher’s desk
    .
    – Karen Cesar

  16. Good stuff Lorin and Peter
    *********************
    a toast to all those
    who’ve made the harvest
    a bounty

    1. whoops! Sorry! I thought I was posting that right down at the bottom of this thread, in reply to Carol.

      – Lorin

  17. Thanks. I’m glad to be back in the mix. I will do my best to select the next verse though Lorin’s commentary is a tough act to follow. Also, very helpful.

    So what we’ll be looking for in verse thirty-one will be an autumn verse, written in three lines.

    According to John Stevenson’s instructions, “this verse begins the ‘kyu’ or closing section of our renku, which will consist of the final six verses.

    Of this section, Shinku Fukuda has written, “This part should be written calmly and pleasantly. Here again, we can say ‘we write in in suit and a tie’.” A very strong shift in tone, to something serene and simple, will help to make this transition clear to readers.

    Verse thirty-one must link to the thirtieth verse (and only the thirtieth verse) but it also must clearly shift away from it in terms of scene, subject, and tone.”

    Thanks again for this valuable lesson in renku–I am somewhat new to this extended linked form as I know others are as well. But let’s have fun along the way.

    –Peter

    1. Another analogy on the movements of jo /preface, ha/ development and kyu/ finale, in case it might be any help:

      “Master Zeanu repeatedly likened jo-ha-kyu to the course of a mountain river: jo is the tributary’s gentle rill, ha the river in spate as it cuts back and forth between mountain peaks; and kyu the plunge of a mighty waterfall into a deep and silent pool.” – John E. Carley, from ‘Renku Reckoner’.

      A bit later, JEC provides a similar analogy for the kyu section in his own words:

      “Far from being a succession of anodyne verses, kyu is the crash of the breaker on the beach, followed by the hiss of foam and the growl of the undertow.”

      Waterfall, or a breaker nearing the shore . . . these seem good analogies to me. 🙂

      – Lorin

  18. Still decorating 😉🍂:
    .

    one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .
    –Peter Newton
    .
    pine cone wreaths
    and corn stalks fastened
    to porch pillars
    .
    – Karen Cesar

  19. one last guess at
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard
    .

    –Peter Newton
    .
    a plaid throw
    and plump pillows
    on the porch swing
    .
    – Karen Cesar

  20. Love this verse, Peter. My favorite season is autumn, and your verse definitely captures its charm.
    .
    I adore your commentary, Lorin. As always. So well-written, insightful, and captivating. Another amazing job as sabaki. Thank you very much for all your hard work.

    1. thanksgiving in space? ha! 😀
      .
      fun but hardly a contender with the moon in the leap-over verse, not to mention the questionable seasonal reference

      1. Welllll it WAS fun . . .

        No space, but I got the wild idea and couldn’t resist weightless…… snicker

        Seasonal is appropriate, Thanksgiving in the US. WE have other a localisms in world kigo, so this can be, too, ey? But that is only academic, now.

  21. checking the cupboard
    for cinnamon
    and allspice
    .
    .

    Am I dancing too near the edge? Is food clearly taken? To me, this is implies seasonal cooking… and pairs with pumpkin, too. I do like my other link … smug that I am.

    1. Hi Paul 🙂

      Cinnamon and allspice would conjure up the aromas of Christmas cooking here (pudding and cake) as we don’t tend to use those seasonings in Ireland at other times of the year (unless when cooking a Moroccan dish, which is not very common)

      1. Marion it would also be our fall harvest festival, Thanksgiving. But Christmas too. I tried to edge into autumn by referring to checking my shelves and stocking up for the holidays… All depends on the Sabaki, or the group if democratic and no sabaki.

        I had a relative who made plum pudding (or fig) early and had to have time to wrap it in brandied cheesecloth before Christmas. DEElicious! Served with “hard sauce” — butter and sugar, maybe some rum or brandy?

        1. Like Marion, I’d be making Moroccan Spiced Lamb with those aromatics, Paul, any time of the year here in Oz, and serving it with saffron rice pilau, especially on a cold winter’s day like today! 🙂

          1. Yep, I’m with Marietta. Apart from Indian & Moroccan cooking, both of which I do, I often have porridge for breakfast with cinnamon & tumeric added, the year around except for summer. Dried spices are in use all year, unlike fresh, seasonal herbs.

            – Lorin

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