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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 27

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.

Fifteen poets collectively presented fifty-four verse offerings this time, a good turnout considering that we lost part of our submission period to site maintenance. My post will once again be abbreviated, because of a combination of the time lost to site maintenance and the demands of my day job.

We had an auspicious debut from Maureen Virchau. She offered fourteen verse twenty-seven suggestions, the majority of them encouraging strong consideration. Only technical matters have prevented her from joining our renku on the first try. Some examples of technical issues:”telephoto lens” in an earlier verse precludes photographs or glasses, “century” in an earlier verse precludes us from specifying a number lower than one hundred, “scraping the ice” in a recent verse precludes “buffing out the scratches.” I hope Maureen will keep playing and, if so, I expect we will soon be including a verse from her.

Our twenty-seventh verse comes from Sandra Simpson. Alcohol is often included as a renku topic. “Voddy tonny” may be an idiom in more general use than I know of but I read it as having a sort of “baby talk” quality and that could be fun to play against in our next verse. I’ve made a couple of changes in Sandra’s original text – principally, moving line three to the beginning to avoid a cut and changing “second” to “next” in order to skirt the retrograde numbering issue. Not that it is in any way a requirement, but I am pleased with the symmetry in our renku – having two love verses from male poets and two from female poets.

Here is the verse you must link to:

a large voddy tonny
for the woman who may be
his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

The next verse, the twenty-eighth, is non-seasonal. It will be followed by an autumn moon verse. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-eight:

  • Non-seasonal (should not include words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-seventh verse, and only the twenty-seventh 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, September 16, 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, September 18 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

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century

    –batsword

first snowfall
covering little by little
all the dirt

    –Vasile Moldovan

scraping the ice rink
of blood, sweat and tears

    –Carole MacRury

the sting
of a paper cut
on her tongue

    –Terri French

used books signed
for someone special

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a large voddy tonny
for the woman who may be
his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

This Post Has 70 Comments

  1. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    happy hour
    at the cat and fiddle

  2. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    officers and gentlemen
    called to the inquest

    – Lorin

  3. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    I’m proud to be
    an Okie from Muskogee

  4. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    From Russia With Love
    a mail order bride

    Ist line used with-out permission from the James Bond film featuring the best & sexiest ‘007” Sean Connery – the others are not in his ballpark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqAOf66o1Wg

  5. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    not letting the skeleton
    rattle my bones

  6. Thank you very much for the opportunity to rewrite our verses, John.

    a stir in the crowd
    with the slur of a slur

  7. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    double, double
    toil and trouble

    [or without the comma]

  8. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    somewhere a spider
    curls up and dies

  9. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    false teeth grin
    from the bedside table

  10. Off to a great start, everyone! I love the looney quality of some of these offers. The renku wants some of that.

    A word to some who are writing great stuff but may not be aware of something I haven’t specifically mentioned. We have “his” in the previous verse and “her” a couple of verses before that. We won’t want to use those (or probably any) possessive pronouns for a while. If you can rewrite some of your offers to remove the pronouns, great. Otherwise, this is just for consideration with subsequent offers.

  11. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    by thirty she’s drinking
    straight from the bottle

  12. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    breast implants
    for her 21st birthday

  13. whoops…. ‘whale’, of course, is notoriously a Winter kigo in Japan (because it’s Winter in the Northern Hemisphere when they hunt them, even to this day) and this is a ‘no season’ verse position.

    – Lorin

  14. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    who could know
    about the sinkhole?

  15. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    in this life
    the certainty of death

  16. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    the cabin cruiser lists
    to port then starboard

    – Lorin

  17. ““Voddy tonny” may be an idiom in more general use than I know of but I read it as having a sort of “baby talk” quality . . .” JS

    I’ve never heard it (thank goodness! & any woman I know would be making the old finger-down-the-throat sign if they did hear it) but I’d guess that the drink referred to is a vodka & tonic. Nicely done, Sandra, in giving a picture of a ‘Huff Heffner plus Bunny’ or ‘Nichole what’s-her-name & some rich old goat’ kind of match, without stating it.

    Or the hilariously horrible pair in the novel, ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’.

    – Lorin

  18. a large voddy tonny
    for the woman who may be
    his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

    another game of blind man’s buff
    at the nudist colony

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