Welcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku, go here.
I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.
Twenty-two poets offered a total of eighty-one candidates for verse ten. This is just slightly less participation than we had for the previous verse. In the event that this may be due, in part, to one of our links disappearing from the home page over the weekend, a situation that will continue through the month of May, I would like to alert everyone to the option of using the “Go to” link under “The Renku Sessions” at the top left of the home page. It will take you to another page, from which you can always reach the most current renku post.
I’m going to make a change in a verse that we have already included, namely the hokku. In Japanese practice the fact that the hokku and its leap-over, the third verse, both contain structures (shrines/glass house) would be considered a serious flaw. While we are not engaged in quite so rigorous an approach, I would like to fix this as an example of the kind of revision that is possible. Please note the slightly different wording of the hokku, below.
We are now in a part of the renku where we might go almost anywhere with images and implied themes. My choice of the next verse is affirmative and, at the same time, made with some regret for the wonderful options that I must let pass, at least for the present. We might, for instance, have introduced a fantasy or science fiction element here with Patrick Sweeney’s vivid into the blue electric bath. Or we might have moved into the element of gambling (and perhaps crime) with Scott Mason’s the best man excels. An element of laugh out loud humor is offered by a number of verses. My favorites in this vein are Jennifer Sutherland’s he makes me an offer and who left, Marion Clarke’s a dolphin surfaces, and Alice Frampton’s a mouthful of milkshake. While all of these are attractive options, I have decided to look for something that seems distantly linked to verse nine and therefore represents a dramatic shift. There are two final contenders in this regard. The runner-up is Stella Pierides’ the tooth fairy.
Our tenth verse comes from Asni Amin. I take it to link through the traditional vows of “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” But it also offers a wide array of associations relating to the manner in which a person responds to adversity. Note that this verse names a color. While future verses may feature colorful images, they should not name another color directly.
Here is the verse you must link to:
thinking of a red wig
The next verse, the eleventh, also has no seasonal or other specific topical requirements. A dawn, dusk, or nighttime image (without mention of the moon) might be good at this point. Here are the formal requirements for verse ten:
- Non-seasonal (avoids any topics assigned to a specific season in our list of season words)
- Written in three lines, without a cut
- Linking with the tenth verse, and only the tenth verse
- Shifting widely to a new topic and setting
Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next link on Thursday, May 15 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.
What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session
There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.
It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.
Pilgrims’ Stride to Date
to the mountain pass–
a sun-warmed stone bridge
of seed trays
in the glasshouse
polished every monday
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon
a dragonfly hovers
over the swaying reeds
of a drone
thick with teenage pheromones
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”
thinking of a red wig