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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 13

renkuchainWelcome 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 poets provided a total of one hundred nine candidates for verse thirteen. Now that we have hit our stride with this renku, each week finds me making harder choices. Christopher Patchel once again offered some real contenders, particularly by moonlight / and flashlight / a Ouija seance. Though it lacks the required season word, I was intrigued by the offer of surely / there is more to life / than the moon (h. gene murtha). And, most of all, I would love to have used dreams / of the touch of moths / and moonlight by Stella Pierides and only hesitated to do so because it seems too soon after dragonflies (verse six). Perhaps we could have another flying insect deep in the second half of our renku.

Our thirteenth verse comes from kris moon. In this renku, the signature line is an important element and, in addition to the kaleidoscopic charm of the verse itself, I find it cool, indeed, to have a moon verse from the estimable kris moon, one of the people who translated the list of season words we are using!

Here is the verse you must link to:

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

The next verse, the fourteenth, is also a summer verse. Since kris has given us an “all summer” season word (cool), we are free to use any summer season word or phrase for this next verse. Here are the formal requirements for verse fourteen:

  • Summer image
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the thirteenth verse, and only the thirteenth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, June 3, 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, June 5 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

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

This Post Has 81 Comments

  1. each moon reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    – kris moon

    curtains drawn back
    a moth flies to the light

  2. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising
    -kris moon

    goldfinch shrill
    in the greening willow

  3. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    dumped by a wave
    onto the sand

  4. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    fan riffles
    the pages of my diary

  5. Avoiding the child reference:

    in bare feet
    combing for seashells

    in bare feet
    combing the beach

  6. her beach pail
    full of seashells

    their beach pails
    full of seashells

  7. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    after festival weekend
    our shape in the grass

  8. each mirror reflects
    only a cool moon
    rising

    – Kris Moon

    a putrid stench stretching out
    the midday heat

  9. each mirror reflects
    only a cool moon
    rising

    – Kris Moon

    heat-crazed coyotes
    howling and howling

    * revised for alliteration, count and variety

  10. each mirror reflects
    only a cool moon
    rising

    – Kris Moon

    heat-crazed dogs
    howling and howling

  11. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    -Kris Moon

    older brother suspects
    I’ve freed his fireflies

    -Patrick Sweeney

  12. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    first prize
    in the egg and spoon race

  13. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    still waiting…
    the cat, the fiddle , a dish and spoon

  14. Hi Chris (Patchel) & Lorin,
    I’m not speaking for John, only my own thoughts of renku “tradition” and practice. No doubt that I am showing ignorance along the way.

    In the sample renku (Click of M. Tiles), the 14th verse you mention, Pope, is not scheduled to be a season verse. See Bill’s Annotation, clickable from the top of the Call to this renku by John. A group, or sabaki, can certainly vary placement but in most renku forms “summer” is a single verse at a time, sometimes two, though. Here it was to be #13 and single — if the hokku was “summer” then certainly the wakiku #2, would be likewise. Possible? but rarely then the #3 daisan could be summer also. Specified in the sample work, as well as John’s “stride,” the 13th is both moon and summer. For variety’s sake one of the 3 “moon stanzas” is not autumn. The Pope stanza is the religion reference in that kasen. Usually only one such topic to a kasen. Variety in all things!

    There are no absolutes to a renku form. Closest might be the #s 17 and 35 being “blossom” and spring, and that a kasen renku will have all four seasons and Love. Note in the original classic tradition two large sheets of actual paper (4 sides) were used to inscribe a complete kasen. Not by coincidence, each of 17 & 35 are the next-to-last stanzas on pages two and three (full pages, each with 12 verses. 6 each on the front page and last one, the 4th side, back of the 2nd piece of large paper.).

    Each page, all 4 sides, then, has some special significance. There are usually three aspects of moonness, one each for the first three pages/sides. Our summer moon (#13) is the 2nd such. I expect another to be scheduled by John, following Fukuda’s model. It will fall on page three (between #19 and #30). Also note that John accepted Lorin’s lovely sonata to the moon as the 5th stanza — a “traditional” placement for first page of the first sheet of paper. Ha! Unless the hokku uses the moon and the renku is in autumn.

    So many traditions to honor. Personally I get a kick, enjoyment, out of following in the paths of the Classic Masters (Old Basho!) and the more recent leaders. If Basho used a form in say …. 1694, here we are likewise. And, he did so 320 years ago!

    Sorry for the long digression. – Paul

  15. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    he struts the beach
    in budgie smugglers

  16. motorcycles glitter
    through wet neon streets

    I posted something like this before but it disappeared. Perhaps because I gave no last name?

  17. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    twin sisters
    in watermelon swimsuits

  18. on second thoughts..

    each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    surfers wait …
    for the perfect wave

  19. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    at dawn surfers wait
    for the perfect wave

  20. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    i wear my sunglasses
    at night

    Corey Hart – from 1983

  21. Aalix: “Shifting widely to a new topic and setting”
    are you referring to the previous linking verse or ALL the preceding verses?

    John: Both. Note that the linking statement is “Linking with the thirteenth verse, and only the thirteenth verse”

    Lorin: How is it that verse C here can be seen to add to verse A of the sequence of three? If it can be seen to add to verse A in any way, wouldn’t that indicate a major fault in the renku . . . uchikoshi the fault of returning attention to the last-but-one verse?

    John: A close linkage between non adjoining verses is a flaw. Linkage, however, is in the eye of the beholder to some degree. Since everything in existence is connected in the same way that every person is connected to Kevin Bacon within six degrees of separation, it is possible to see a link anywhere if one looks hard enough. The standard to be applied here can vary among practitioners. It’s like the rating of Sudoku puzzles – some can be easy and some fiendishly difficult. In this exercise, I am aiming more toward easy, hoping to reduce the frustration factor for relative newcomers.

    Also, not every connection within a renku amounts to “linkage.” In this regard, I quote here the first line of commentary by contest judges (hortensia anderson, Judson Evans, Bill Higginson) relating to the first prize renku in the 2005 Einbond Competition, “While it maintains variety and forward momentum, “City on the Hill” simultaneously establishes a sense of complex unity by the cross-association of several overarching themes.”

    P.S. These questions are all welcome and all helpful in the learning process. I am going to be extremely busy this week and next. In addition to full time work, I am in the final week of rehearsals for a play, in the final week of compiling entries for the Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Awards, sponsored by The Heron’s Nest, and helping to arrange for the return of my son to the US after five years in Scotland. And, of course, I will be reading your offers and weighting them every day. I mention this in order to explain if I am unable at some point to offer a timely reply to your questions or comments.

  22. ” Is there a summer reference (that I’m missing) in this verse from the sample kasen?

    Pope John Paul
    waits for the shadow”

    I don’t think so, Chris. Blowed if I could see it, if there was. (interesting verse, though… nice levels … which shadow?)

    But hey, a sample renku isn’t the same as a template renku. Sabaki / composer does have some room to move within all those rules. 😉

    (my 5 cents worth)

    – Lorin

    – Lorin

  23. Is there a summer reference (that I’m missing) in this verse from the sample kasen?

    Pope John Paul
    waits for the shadow

  24. each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    on the flip side
    a bevy of beach babes

    – Lorin Ford

  25. um, my typo ‘link and shirt’.., 🙂 It should’ve been ‘link and shift’, of course.

    – Lorin

  26. “I really love kris moon’s verse, which really adds to my verse, . . . ” – Alan Summers

    Part of Alan’s statement has me confounded, but also bursting with curiosity.

    John (as sabaki) and Alan (as commentator) would you both of you be kind enough to explain?

    A
    the woodland
    of silent stories
    and shadow

    –Alan Summers

    B
    he makes a wish
    to become real

    –Marion Clarke
    C
    each mirror reflects
    only the cool moon
    rising

    –kris moon

    As I’ve understood link & shirt in renku, in a sequence of three verses such as this, whilst verse B may (& should) add to verse A by means of linkage, verse C needs to shift entirely away from verse A … in no way add to verse A or draw attention back to it. (The movement in renku being ever-forward)

    My query: a) How is it that verse C here can be seen to add to verse A of the sequence of three? If it can be seen to add to verse A in any way, wouldn’t that indicate a major fault in the renku . . . uchikoshi the fault of returning attention to the last-but-one verse?

    – Lorin

  27. John,
    I think I know the answer to this, but
    when you say

    “Shifting widely to a new topic and setting”
    are you referring to the previous linking verse or ALL the preceeding verses?

  28. There’s been so many neat verses accepted, as well as posted.

    I really love kris moon’s verse, which really adds to my verse, and Marion Clarke’s verse. Very magical.

    Oh, by the way Kris, if you are reading this, thanks again for a wonder time in Japan! 🙂

    warm regards,

    Alan

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