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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 21

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 fifty-nine offers, from eighteen poets during the past week. My commentary will be brief this time because I will be traveling during the period normally set aside for composing and setting my text.

As you read this, I will be engaged in a live renku writing experience. This is an annual event, at Paul MacNeil’s camp on Onawa Lake in Maine. Paul and I will be collaborating with Yu Chang, Tom Clausen, and Hilary Tann. These sessions have taken place every year since 1999. Onawa is in mountainous country, far from any urban centers. Web access is inconsistent and I am not certain how well I will be able to monitor activity on this site while I am there. If you don’t hear from me until next Monday, this will be the reason.

Poets who have already contributed to our renku continue to offer many really inspiring links. I’ll just mention that Alice Frampton’s eight current offers contained four or five that I would have given strong consideration.

Among potential new contributors, I found myself choosing between two verses offered this time by Betty Shropshire. In addition to the pleasures of creative collaboration, the wide ranging images that are offered sometimes provide surprising new information. An example, for me, was the mention of “Chladni figures.” For anyone who was also unaware of this phenomenon, it is well worth looking into. I am passing on this verse in favor of another because I have a sense that this acoustical image may relate too closely to the skylark song in the leap-over verse.

Our twenty-first verse comes from Betty Shropshire. This is the first three line offer we have included that is written in a 5-7-5 format. I feel that this formal quality complements the image of “the old ways” contained in the verse itself, which in turn links nicely with the discipline of yoga. I acknowledge that there are potential concerns: an earlier cooking image (seven verses ago), earlier color name (eleven verses ago, or more recent if one counts “milky”). But there is much in this verse that adds nuance and savor to our renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

The next verse, the twenty-second, is the last in this series of three non-seasonal verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-two:

  • Non-seasonal image (should not contain words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-first verse, and only the twenty-first 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, July 29, 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 31 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

      plain truth
      of a skylark’s
      song

        –Stella Pierides

      our yoga instructor
      tells us to breathe

        –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

      smoldering dung cakes
      burning in the blackened pit
      flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

      This Post Has 62 Comments

      1. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry
        –Betty Shropshire

        a worn entry ticket
        to the Taj Mahal

      2. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

        party favors discreetly
        slipped in the garbage

      3. who knows not this man o’war
        scooped up from a briny bath

        …I know these entries are not eligible but still it’s fun to throw them out into the ether.

      4. But who would soar the solar height,
        to set in such a starless night?

        Lord George Noel Gordon Byron (1788-1824), Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte.

      5. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        -Betty Shropshire

        rising threshold guardians
        stir my ashes

        -Patrick Sweeney

      6. oh ! sunflower is a late summer season word ( of course ) should have realised..

      7. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

        in a field of sunflowers
        someone’s loved one

      8. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

        seventeen ways
        to cure cibophobia

      9. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry
        Thai cuisine on the menu
        honey cookies tame the heat

      10. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

        the scent of sweetness from the earth
        …truffles

      11. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        –Betty Shropshire

        my turn to walk
        across hot coals

      12. smoldering dung cakes
        burning in the blackened pit
        flavors the curry

        -Betty Shropshire

        naruko-kei kokeshi’s neck
        cries when turned

        -Patrick Sweeney

      13. Have a wonderful time at the renku in Maine, John – it sounds like fun! Last I heard from Paul (in April) he was having some back trouble, so I hope he’s okay now. Please pass on my regards.

        marion

      Comments are closed.

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