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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 22

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.

Our totals this time are twenty poets and fifty-six verse offerings. As I suspected, my access to the internet was intermittent at best while I was in Maine last week. The isolation was certainly helpful in our renku writing there, if not my following activity here. We completed two renku in two days and still had time for kayaking, some light hiking, and more good food than I normally see in a month.

My tentative plan, once we have completed our Kasen renku, is to write one more post as an overview contrasting the experience of creating a renku in this setting with live sessions. I’m guessing that this will produce some discussion and then, I hope, the sessions will resume with a new renku and a new guide.

Loved Scott Mason’s discretely disposed of party favors. Christopher Patchel’s knocked out / in the first round is a good idea for a topic we haven’t touched upon and I hope others will offer us a verse with a sports image sometime within the next few verses.

I made a choice between two “family” verses this time; from carol harrison and batsword. Either would work very well in this position. I suppose my reasons for choosing between them, to the degree that they amount to anything beyond instinct, have to do with saving pronouns for later use and a choice between the qualities of “lust” and “grudge,” either of which add something tangible. Pronouns and lust remain available for us in the next set of love verses.

Our twenty-second verse comes from batsword. I am imagining a couple of scenarios suggested by this verse, in conjunction with its predecessor. One deals with feuds between families/clans. The other involves internal strife that may divide a single family for year after year and be carried forward through generations beyond that of the originally offended parties. Such resentments can come to permeate the foods served at the family dinner table.

Here is the verse you must link to:

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century


The next verse, the twenty-third, is the first of two consecutive winter verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-three:

  • Winter seasonal image (should include a winter word or phrase from our season word list)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-second verse, and only the twenty-second 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, August 5, 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, August 7 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

        –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

        –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

      the family’s grudge
      celebrates a century


      This Post Has 47 Comments

      1. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        lightning splits
        our old oak tree
        straight down the middle

      2. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        her elegant script
        on the friendship quilt
        everyone wanted

      3. g’day John,

        Thank you for taking my verse.

        the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century

        under the sasanqua
        holding our diplomas
        champagne overflows

      4. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        at the trail head
        two ski tracks

      5. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        sparks ignite
        as we gather around
        the bonfire

      6. whoops..we already have soil in verse 2..

        the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        whilst wrath
        takes root
        beneath cold ground

      7. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        this evening
        we thaw out
        by the fireplace

      8. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        barefoot on black ice
        my red-headed sister’s
        only vow

        -Patrick Sweeney

      9. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        Monday morning
        quarterbacks with the
        wisdom of hindsight

      10. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        skiers traverse
        the mogul field’s
        short-radius turns

      11. the family’s grudge
        celebrates a century


        ignoring the risk
        early-season skaters
        on thin ice

      Comments are closed.

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