Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 18

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.

We had seventy-six offers, from twenty-one poets, this time. As you probably know, I am giving special attention to the offers of poets who have not yet placed a verse in our renku. Among these, I looked closely at verses by Dru Philippou, Stella Piedrides, batsword, and Stewart C Baker this time. My early favorite was in the fresh wrack line / a friendship bracelet (Stella Pierides). In order to use this verse, I would want to eliminate the cut between lines produced by opening with a prepositional phrase (a common practice in English-language haiku). I could have resolved that by reversing the order of the lines but then we would have had another verse starting with “a” and it would have been the third out of our four most recent. Other fixes would have required more extensive rewriting than I plan to do in this series. Still, this is a very attractive image. I am presuming that the late spring season reference is to beach combing.

From batsword, we had several offers that attracted a second look. In particular there was restless colts / flicking off flies. I suppose the main reason that I haven’t selected this one is that I would like a slightly longer verse here. My personal preference is for short lines and sharply focused images (like this one) but I am concerned that the renku may have too much of that, just because I like it so much.

Then there was Stewart C Baker’s spring thunder shivers / the perennial ryegrass. This was the last verse that I considered before making my selection and I do like it very much. In the end, I let it pass because I didn’t want us looking down at vegetation on the ground in both verses seventeen and eighteen, not that this would have been a bad thing.

Our eighteenth verse comes from Dru Philippou. The link is word based. “Nimbus,” which means something like “halo” or “aura” in verse seventeen, is reconsidered as meaning “cloud” in verse eighteen. At the same time, a significant change of tone is taking place. The lovely, contemplative, and somewhat passive spirit of verse seventeen is answered by the active, almost aggressive “taking” of a photograph in the new verse. One thing this allows me to mention – this is the first time we have named a season. If you look at our season word list, you’ll see that this is clearly an acceptable practice. But, having done it now, we won’t want to name a season again (use the words “summer,” “winter,” etc.) for most, if not the entire, remainder of the renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

The next verse, the nineteenth, is the final entry in this series of three spring verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse nineteen:

  • Spring image (“late spring” or “all spring” and not a blossom)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the eighteenth verse, and only the eighteenth 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, July 8, 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, July 10 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

      sugar plum fairy came
      and hit the streets…

        –Jennifer Sutherland

      a milky nimbus
      at dusk
      beneath the cherry tree

        –Scott Mason

      pulling in spring clouds
      with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

      This Post Has 69 Comments

      1. Thank you, Mary Stevens, for the enouragement and thank you all for another round of creative offerings. See you here tomorrow.

      2. to the west
        we spot the burning hills
        and ponder our options

      3. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        -Dru Philippou

        strangers walk
        on cobbled paths
        aside the ploughed fields

      4. Thank you, John, for breaking down this game, play by play. Contemplating one verse per week makes the concepts much easier to understand and integrate than being presented with an entire Renku at once. And thank you to participating poets! This is really fun!

      5. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        years forgotten
        as my feet reach higher
        with each swing

      6. the storm violently lifts
        the kite upward with
        the child still holding on

      7. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        parting ways
        the balloon string
        and the child’s hand

      8. Lorin-san,

        I’m having quite a summer with my crows. I’ve been feeding them peanuts …which I shouldn’t do, and have…consequently, become friends with a family of crows. The young ones display the joy and energy that we love in human kids…I sip my beer and watch them and I’ve learned so much…

        Thank you for your kind words. This renku has been fun. I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to interact with such great poets.

        Gambatte Kudasai!
        Patrick

      9. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        the young crows, too
        are glad to be
        in this world

        -Patrick Sweeney

        A lovely, deft link with a nice mood and & tone the end of side 2! And subtly humorous, too. In my view, anyway. 🙂

      10. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        the tire swing
        waiting for someone
        to give it a push

      11. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        she captures
        the little girl’s smile
        in a soap bubble

      12. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        -Dru Philippa

        a kaleidoscope
        of kites
        saturate the sky

        – Meli Kyriakos

      13. the stone Jizo
        lets her go on
        starving herself

        -Patrick Sweeney

        (no apostrophe)

      14. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        -Dru Philippa

        the snap of sheets
        drying in the April breeze
        lifts her spirits

      15. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        -Dru Philippou

        the stone Jizo
        let’s her go on
        starving herself

        -Patrick Sweeney

      16. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        the rope swing
        I swung on as a boy
        swings anew

      17. Good point about intervals. I’ve been saying things like “not until later, if at all.” But how much later, in my experience, varies considerably among renku people. While eight verses would be long enough for some before naming another color, I would prefer to wait longer. But I rarely say never. Who knows what the temptations may be?

      18. ps… though I understand that any verses I submit are unlikely candidates because of my previously selected verse, I’m curious to know whether the caution about repeating the name of a colour after Asni’s ‘red wig’ verse would apply to the EL version of a kigo on the list we’re using? (and especially after an interval of 8 verses)

        yellow dust (tsuchifuru, all spring). Blown from China.

        – Lorin

      19. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens
        –Dru Philippou

        what remains
        of the bottle rockets
        covered in yellow dust

        – Lorin Ford

      20. Ah, yes, 4th July. Happy Holiday! 🙂

        pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens
        –Dru Philippou

        the squeaky wheel
        of the balloon man’s cart
        screeches far and wee

        – L.L. Fordings

      21. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens
        Dru Philippou

        signs of plenty
        after the first shower rain
        the snails ruts

      22. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens
        Dru Philippou

        in the light
        of the first lighting
        the last kiss

      23. pulling in spring clouds

        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        a cushion the colour
        of green barley with stuffing
        knocked out

        –Alan Summers

      24. whoops – correction

        pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        halter breaking
        the colt with a star
        on his forehead

      25. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        born as night falls
        a colt with a star
        on his forehead

      26. building my greenhouse
        on a wood foundation from
        the fallen mulberry tree

      27. Hi, John,

        It helps a lot when you explain your choices. For me, the more detail the better. And, it is a great learning process for me!

      28. pulling in spring clouds
        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        at the last moment
        the string snaps and off
        flies my kite

      29. pulling in spring clouds

        with a telephoto lens

        –Dru Philippou

        the right tea
        always needs to be picked
        for wrong occasions

        –Alan Summers

      30. the slouched shoulders
        of beach combers
        collecting sea castings

        or

        the slouched shoulders
        of beach combers
        following drift lines

      Comments are closed.

      Back To Top