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’ve supplied the opening verse (hokku), and have now selected a second verse (wakiku) from among those submitted prior to this past Tuesday’s deadline.
Thank you! We are off to a fabulous start, with 90 offers from 43 poets! While I must choose only one, I want to thank everyone and encourage you to keep playing. I will be including as many poets as possible in this session and the first round has been so encouraging that I hope everyone will stay with us, and even more will join in.
I have selected a wakiku offered by Billie Wilson. It fulfills all of the suggestions from my first posting and has the added virtue of being from a poet strongly associated with The Haiku Foundation. It can, therefore, be read as our host’s reply, saying something like, “THF is happy to provide support for part of this pilgrimage of poets.” And it embodies the renku concept of “link and shift”—the pilgrim road and the meltwater stream intersect at this point before each continues in its own way.
Here is the verse you must link to:
a sun-warmed stone bridge
The next verse, the third (daisan), is the “push off.” Professor Fukuda wrote, “After the exchange of greetings, the renku really starts with the third verse.” While it links to verse two (and only verse two), it also makes a clear shift of scene and subject matter. Here are some other things to keep in mind when writing this verse:
- this is also a spring verse
- three lines
- no “cut” (think of the cut as occurring between verses two and three)
- It would be good if this verse was an indoor image (the first two having been outdoors)
- maintain an appropriate tone (we are still in the opening sequence of six verses; the jo or prologue)
Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, March 18, 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, March 20 here on the blog, and provide information and instruction 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 shrines—
a sun-warmed stone bridge