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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. a liquid film smears
    old men’s eyes grazing
    the pitcher’s mound

  6. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    years forgotten
    as my feet reach higher
    with each swing

  7. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    a morning of kites
    over everything else
    this torn page

    –Alan Summers

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

  9. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    a morning of kites
    over everything else
    and this torn page

    –Alan Summers

  10. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    parting ways
    the balloon string
    and the child’s hand

  11. 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

  12. 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. 🙂

  13. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    the tire swing
    waiting for someone
    to give it a push

  14. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

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

  15. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    -Dru Philippa

    a kaleidoscope
    of kites
    saturate the sky

    – Meli Kyriakos

  16. the stone Jizo
    lets her go on
    starving herself

    -Patrick Sweeney

    (no apostrophe)

  17. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    -Dru Philippa

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

  18. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    -Dru Philippou

    the stone Jizo
    let’s her go on
    starving herself

    -Patrick Sweeney

  19. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    the rope swing
    I swung on as a boy
    swings anew

  20. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    the dandelion
    pushing out more
    micro civilisations

    –Alan Summers

  21. 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?

  22. 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

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

    what remains
    of the bottle rockets
    covered in yellow dust

    – Lorin Ford

  24. 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

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

    signs of plenty
    after the first shower rain
    the snails ruts

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

    in the light
    of the first lighting
    the last kiss

  27. pulling in spring clouds

    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    a cushion the colour
    of green barley with stuffing
    knocked out

    –Alan Summers

  28. whoops – correction

    pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    halter breaking
    the colt with a star
    on his forehead

  29. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

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

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

  31. 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!

  32. pulling in spring clouds
    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

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

  33. pulling in spring clouds

    with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

    the right tea
    always needs to be picked
    for wrong occasions

    –Alan Summers

  34. the slouched shoulders
    of beach combers
    collecting sea castings

    or

    the slouched shoulders
    of beach combers
    following drift lines

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