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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 15

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-one poets have produced sixty-two potential verse fifteen entries. Many really resonant images are contained in verses offered by both regular contributors and some newcomers. An example of the latter would be whispering / so the neighbors / can’t hear by Meli Kyriakos. I also lingered over cries of joy and pain / and the smell of piss rising / from the subway mouth by mark harris, sweeping up / discarded tickets / from the station floor by Stella Pierides, with a wary eye / the zoo-keeper / sweeps the concrete pens by Sue Richards, and this portion / brought to you / by Monsanto (Christopher Patchel). I was intrigued by Jennifer Sutherland’s three ways / to sharpen / a kitchen knife but, with silverware mentioned in verse four, felt I must pass on it. Same goes for Scott Mason’s the subway grate / claiming another / stiletto – a great verse but perhaps not for a renku in which the hokku contains the phrase “pilgrims’ stride.” (Yes, I am aware that a stiletto is also a knife.)

While all of the above were tempting, the final choice was between two. One appears below and the other was leaving the tattoo parlour / with a tiger / on his back by Jennifer Sutherland. Her verse really offers the urban snarl that I was looking for.

Our fifteenth verse comes from Christopher Patchel. The situation depicted is familiar to almost anyone who has an e-mail account and pinning it to a fish in a frying pan is great fun!

Here is the verse you must link to:

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

The next verse, the sixteenth, is also non-seasonal. (In case it is helpful to know it, the seventeenth will be a spring blossom verse.) Since the verse fifteen selection I have made is not overtly an urban image, we could still perhaps use a strong urban image at this point. Here are the formal requirements for verse sixteen:

  • Non-seasonal image (not containing any of the words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the fifteenth verse, and only the fifteenth 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 17, 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 19 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

      freshly-caught fish
      sizzles in the pan

        –Aalix Roake

      a wealthy prince
      exiled in Nigeria
      soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

      This Post Has 77 Comments

      1. Edit for submission on June 17

        Langston Hughes’ Weary Blues
        rocking Harlem

      2. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        – Christopher Patchel

        shrine after shrine
        to the gods of desire

      3. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

        we agree to meet
        in the City of Light

      4. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        broken the parents leave
        the hospital without the baby

      5. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        the infant boy born with
        no parents to take him home

      6. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        the infant boy born with
        no parents to call him home

      7. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

        from the alleyway’s darkness
        pale fingers unfurl

      8. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

        from the Bowery’s darkness
        pale fingers unfurl

      9. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

        from the Bowery’s darkness
        fingers unfurl

      10. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        –Christopher Patchel

        the Central Park kibitzer
        suggests a better move

      11. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help
        –Christopher Patchel

        in our first round of poker
        he lays down a royal flush

      12. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help
        –Christopher Patchel

        the heart drawn to Dublin
        on Bloomsday

        Lorin Ford

      13. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help
        –Christopher Patchel

        all the world is Dublin
        on Bloomsday

        – Lorin Ford

      14. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

        -Christopher Patchel

        performing a half-forgotten ceremony
        the ancestors draw near

        -Patrick Sweeney

      15. Hello, everyone. Catching up once again. The play I have been performing had its final performance last night.

        I have incorporated Christopher’s first suggestion (see above). The verse to which you must now link reads:

        a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my help

      16. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        – Christopher Patchel

        perhaps said prince can find
        the missing Nigerian girls

        – Tal Goldman

      17. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        cocktails at 5
        in a bar in Queens?

      18. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting me

        (Another option compliments of Paul MacNeil)

      19. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        smoke billows
        from the factory rooftops

      20. I didn’t notice the repeated ‘reply’ until Alice mentioned it, but my revised verse was actually ‘soliciting my help’ so that’s one option. Another option would be to change Paul’s ‘reply’ to: respond, repeat, say, answer, ?

      21. Just catching up a bit. We performed last night and then I picked up my son at the station to welcome him home after nearly six years in Scotland. When we got home, I discovered that the heavy rains had caused some minor flooding in one of the bedrooms. Then I was sick all night. Should be an interesting final performance tonight!

        Anyway, it seems clear that several of you are catching on to the need to avoid repetitions – comments from batsword and Karen Cesar making that plain. Also, Alice Frampton has made a good catch. This kind of thing is easily fixed but best to fix it now before we pile more verses on top of it. I could do this myself but Christopher Patchel is prolific and inventive, so I’ll ask him for an alternative. In his verse:

        a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        we need a word other than “reply.” Christopher, what would you suggest?

      22. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        calling his number
        but who will answer?

      23. expect we can’t have food again, so here’s yet another offer:

        a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        between the marble pillars
        panoramic ocean views

      24. John,
        I have a bit of a problem with the word “reply” as it appears in the 9th verse. It’s not a common word like the articles and prepositions, so . . .
        Thanks!
        A

      25. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        short of time
        she tries speed dating

      26. woopsi ! Sorry !

        a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        finally a handsome fireman
        responds to the false alarm

      27. freshly-caught fish
        sizzles in the pan

        –Aalix Roake

        finally a handsome fireman
        responds to the false alarm

      28. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        rush hour cabbies
        swap one finger salutes

      29. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        the shadowy figure crawls
        through the car window

      30. John,

        Re: Christopher’s verse invokes, for me at least, the kind of ubiquitous on-line scam that is sometimes referred to as “fishing.”

        The word you wanted is “phishing” (which does the same thing — i.e., to gather personal information)

      31. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        love stricken soul
        tragically buys airline ticket

      32. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        the street mime
        stifles his sneeze

      33. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        –Christopher Patchel

        a rhinestone tiara
        in a tissue lined box

        or

        a rhinestone tiara
        gathers dust on the bureau

      34. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        through the red-light district
        hustlers, junkies , pimps and hoes

      35. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        through the red-light district
        hustlers,druggies, pimps and hoes

      36. a wealthy prince
        exiled in Nigeria
        soliciting my reply

        a taxi cruises
        around for a fare

        late night taxi
        cruises around for a fare

        (avoiding the repetition of “a”)

      37. Hi Dru,

        I could repeat what I say every time about this. But I’ll presume you and other participating poets remember all that.

        For me, I think of how the gesture that says “sucker” may consist of putting a finger, representing a fish hook, into one’s cheek and pulling on it. Christopher’s verse invokes, for me at least, the kind of ubiquitous on-line scam that is sometimes referred to as “fishing.”

        John

      Comments are closed.

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