Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 36

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 have been trying something a little different this time. Instead of making all of the selections myself, new verses were selected by the poet who wrote the preceding verse. This was on a voluntary basis and I preformed this task for anyone who opted to pass up the opportunity.

kjmunro has been our final selector. Here is her report:

“I have very little renku experience, so thanks to everyone for this opportunity! First some verses I was considering:

Marietta McGregor’s ‘crystal glasses on a table/laid for travellers‘ —I love the idea of the travellers, but we have already had a pilgrim shrine and a milk glass on the counter.

circles of children/dance to folk songs‘ —I like the circles, and ‘cheers for the oldest/runner of the race‘, both from Carmen Sterba —but is it spring?

From Mary Kendall ‘a cloud of honeybees/circles the new hive‘ —more circles, but we have already seen a dragonfly and sugar cubes.

Also from Mary; ‘young voices & skipping ropes/now set the beat‘ —but we just had a kite, and we have heard some conversations too…


a stream of bubbles
from beyond the fence

            1. –Marion Clarke

has that open-ended quality I am looking for—it is spring and, although still outside, has moved at least from the earth to the sky. It is true that we have had a peace wall already, but I have chosen this verse anyway mainly because of the feeling it gives me of something that goes on…

Thank you to all the participants, to THF, and to John, for this challenging task!

With best wishes from the sunny Yukon,

Thank you kj and everyone who has participated. I wish we had been able to include absolutely everyone and hope that this has been a rewarding experience for one and all. Your comments are invited now. I will just say that this experiment in sharing the leadership has felt good to me and the many points of view represented seem to have imbued this renku with a spark of vitality that makes it stand out. It happened that I was leading a renku session during this past weekend and I read our first thirty-five verses to those attending. It was, in very many ways, a great example of the variety, interplay, and forward motion of good renku.

Our next session will begin in early October and will feature Kala Ramesh. She will ask you to offer a hokku and will provide instructions for that in her first post. Stay tuned!

With thanks and best wishes to all,


New Calendar

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

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
for conversation

    –Marietta McGregor

all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

lunar maria
resolving into
the rabbit

    –Lorin Ford

one last guess at
the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    –Peter Newton

the scarecrow’s
clean clothes

    –Sally Biggar

searching for candles
in the back of the drawer

    –Carol Jones

ribbon-tied letters
release the faint scent
of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

how this kite gently pulls
us together

    –Betty Shropshire

a pink petal
comes to rest
on a raindrop


a stream of bubbles
from beyond the fence

    –Marion Clarke

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. Lovely ending. Congratulations, Marion!

    Thank you, John, for your leadership. I think the renku reads very well. It has been most enjoyable to be along for the ride.
    Thank you all.

    Sorry for your loss, Polona.

    Peace and Love

  2. Congratulations, Marion and KJ! What a wonderful way to end the renku! This has been so much fun . . .so thankful for the experience and for everyone involved.

  3. Thanks everyone for the kind words – it has been a pleasure (& an honour) to participate in this way… please forgive me for not replying personally to each one as I am packing for Santa Fe (see you there, Carmen!) … the leaves are turning here, & frost at night, so while I am looking forward to the weather there, my thoughts are with those enduring the extremes of Mother Nature…
    with best wishes to you all, Kathy

  4. what a wonderful experience this kasen has been! thirty six weeks of collaboration within a supportive group of poets resulting in a variety of styles and topics and a really nice flow to the renku. everyone did a great job when in the position of sabaki, and special thanks to John for facilitating the whole process. i think the experiment proved a great success.
    life presented challenges for some of us during the course of the composition. I’m glad, John, that your wife is on the mend, and hope Betty isn’t too badly affected by Harvey. as for me, well, i buried my husband just over a month ago so wasn’t really up to participating actively in the final stretches of this renku. still, i want to say i loved every week of its course.

    1. Oh, Polona, I’m so sorry to learn about your husband. Thinking of you at this sad time.


    2. Polona, I hope you have family and friends who will gather around you at this difficult time. Though most of our poet community may live far away, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

    3. Polona,
      I’m so sorry to learn about your husband’s passing. Please know that you will be in my prayers and my thoughts.

    4. Oh, Polona…what we lost was minor as a family spread across the gulf coast…nothing to ever compare to the heartbreak you are experiencing. My deepest condolences. Betty

    5. @Debbie

      thank you all for your words, thoughts and prayers.
      he had been ill so i knew it was coming. still, it doesn’t make it much easier…
      but life goes on and i’m not done yet! there are still things to look forward to…

  5. What a lovely last verse, Marion! It brings back blowing bubbles in childhood. Good to hear that Kala Ramesh will be the next sabaki!

    By the way, I’m going to Haiku North America in Santa Fe next week. Marshall Hryciuk will be the renku sabaki for three nights. Karen Sohne will be facilitating the renku. I’m sure John Stevenson will be there. Is anyone else going?

  6. Congratulations, Marion! Very happy for you. A perfect ending. Cheery with a bit of mysteriousness. I can hear the laughter of children. And such a thoughtful and detailed commentary, kj. Thank you for all your time and consideration.
    Many thanks to John. A truly excellent teacher. Very knowledgeable, welcoming, open & kind. The world is a better place.
    Thank you to all the poets here. I truly enjoyed this experiment. Fun and educational. I especially appreciate the commentaries. It was so interesting to experience our writing styles beyond that of haiku and renku verses. Happy trails until we meet again.

    1. Thank you, Maureen. I love how you interpreted my verse. Yes, there will always be children where there are bubbles – even if they are hiding behind a fence! 🙂
      This was indeed a special renku and John was a kind and most helpful leader.

  7. Wow, thank you so much for selecting my verse, kj. (I hadn’ t realised wall, borders and fences would play such a big part in my writing 🙂 )

    John, what a great renku. Thank you for leading us and inviting those who felt inclined to act as sabaki to do so. It has been a lot of fun and much has been learned.

    And thanks to everyone who took part – there has been a great collaborative spirit in this renku and I will miss it. I know it will take quite some time for me to stop checking in to see what’s been posted!


  8. Wow, can’t believe it’s over! Thirty-six weeks of anticipation and pleasurable reading. All good things do end, though. What a lovely verse of farewell, Marion, congratulations! Thank you kj, I enjoyed your choice and your reasoning.
    Great thanks to John as sabaki for quiet guidance all the way through. I’ve enjoyed playing very much and will miss everyone. Thank you all. Maybe we’ll meet again in another renku!

    1. Thank you, Marietta – and I certainly hope we all meet up again in a forthcoming renku. 🙂

      1. I’ve just realised that I missed John’s last point about Kala leading the next session – looking forward! 🙂

  9. A lovely bubbly ending for this renku, Marion. 🙂 And I see in those floating bubbles all the colours of the rainbow… how fitting, not just as a link to k.j’s verse, but as a light-hearted, implied reference to the whole renku. Well chosen, k.j. 🙂

    John, it’s been a true delight to be involved in this renku. This has been a great experience of truly collaborative renku. Deep bows and many thanks to you. It has been fun, and thanks also to everyone else involved.

    – Lorin

    1. I’m delighted you enjoyed it, Lorin. Yes, I’m a big fan of anything rainbow coloured. Must be the Aquarian in me! 🙂


  10. Congratulations, Marion, on your excellent verse. KJ, I enjoyed following your thinking in selecting this final verse. Well done, both of you!

    John, thank you for being such a fine leader and taking a risk by letting us have a go at being sabaki. Being able to ask questions and listen to such thoughtful answers made this very meaningful. Thanks to all the poets–I loved reading your verses each week.

  11. A very fine effort, one and all. Thanks to John Stevenson for a lot of work!

    When I’ve written renku with John, we all read the finished project out loud. . . each taking her/his own part. I think we writers and readers of New Calendar could enjoy reading it aloud slowly and with meaning. We have some humorous, some serious, some square, human and nature, some beautiful verses. A good capstone to this wonderful artistic experience.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better so may I just second Paul’s sentiments
      kanpai all

      Michael Henry Lee

    2. I totally agree, Paul and wouldn’t it be lovely to have a recording of everyone reading their verses! 🙂


  12. Thanks for letting me take part in this Renku session. Many thanks, John, for including one of my verses, an honour indeed.
    I’ve really enjoyed reading the wonderful entries over the past few weeks, an immense learning curve and so much to learn, still.
    Look forward to the next session.

    Congratulations, Marion. A brilliant choice, kj.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top