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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 3

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.

I offer my continued gratitude for the generous participation of poets. Thirty-two offered a total of sixty-nine verses this time. In the future, I may mention a couple of “runners-up” for my selections but, at least this time, there were too many candidates for that to be a practical option.

Our third verse (daisan) has been supplied by Margaret Beverland. It meets the basic requirements by being written in three lines, with a spring season reference (seedlings), featuring an indoor setting, and containing no cut. Actually, the original offer did contain a mild cut, which the author has revised at my request. It also has a light, forward-looking tone, which feels right for the prologue. These are what I would consider prerequisites. The factor that puts this verse at the top of my list is the use of an English-language idiom from a different part of the world than those occupied by the authors of the hokku and wakiku. It thus represents a grand “push off” for the renku and celebrates the international quality of our collaboration. And, in addition to that, I am attracted to the way in which a new (to me) idiom for a familiar thing (what I would refer to as a greenhouse) tends to make the thing itself seem new and luminous.

Here is the verse you must link to:

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

The next verse, the fourth, is a new challenge and opportunity. Here are the required elements:

  • Non-seasonal (containing no material from the season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the third verse, and only the third verse
  • Shifting to a new topic and setting
  • Maintaining a tone appropriate to the prologue

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, March 25, 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 27 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

comparing maps
to the mountain shrines—
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

This Post Has 91 Comments

  1. Thank you, everyone. Please come back on Thursday morning (east US time).

    This might be a good time to mention something that sometimes happens with a group of poets in renku composition. Sometimes, especially when we have been working on a verse together for a while, we may find ourselves linking to some of the offers rather than to the verse actually incorporated in the renku. This can become unconscious. For that reason, I commend it to your conscious consideration.

  2. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse
    –Margaret Beverland

    what’s for dinner?
    he just shrugs

    Jennifer Sutherland

  3. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    pollarded willows
    stems thrust upwards

  4. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse
    Margaret Berverland

    on this mysterious island
    neither peace nor war
    Vasile Moldovan

  5. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    inside doormat
    needs shook out

  6. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    soft sunset
    tinges the window

  7. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    old radio crackles
    news of missing plane

    Sonam Chhoki

  8. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    mother’s bread dough
    set to rise

    Lorin Ford

  9. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    mother’s bread dough
    rising nicely

    Lorin Ford

  10. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    wholemeal bread dough
    set aside to rise

    Lorin Ford

  11. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    grime scrubbed off
    a lucky sixpence shines

    Lorin Ford

  12. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse Margaret Beverland

    after dinner
    the tastes of dark chocolate

  13. tire rubber, shoe leather
    and the Y of a branch

    or briefer:

    some inner-tube rubber
    and the Y of a branch

  14. A couple of futile revisions:

    headlights illumine
    a raccoon’s eyes

    a dollar stolen
    by the vending machine

  15. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the squirrel cut off
    from its attic nest

  16. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    a child’s face
    on the porcelain cup

  17. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    a family stares
    from a glossy photograph

  18. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    thumbpainting my thoughts
    turn on an ink sickle

  19. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    grandmother’s silverware
    polished every monday

  20. oops, there’s a hyphen in the wakiku.
    another try…

    is this portrait taken
    with a wide angle lens?

  21. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    this self-portrait taken
    with a wide angle lens

  22. where’s the edit button?

    That should have been:

    a kicked stone bounces
    along the gutter

  23. Oops, you already have “stone”

    an empty can bounces
    along the gutter

    (that maybe to far away?)

  24. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    -Margaret Beverland

    a day without touch
    snowfog’s six-foot-six

    -Patrick Sweeney

  25. since cats are a common theme, here is my related verse …

    the tap of cat claws
    on linoleum

  26. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the one we’ve all heard
    about the honey cart

    – Sandra Simpson

    (Not sure how far afield the term is known:
    honey cart = night soil = excrement/manure collection)

  27. Polona – I suppose there may be different schools of thought about this. I am focusing, in this renku, on what I learned from Shinku Fukuda. He would have discouraged either place or person names in the opening section (prologue or jo).

  28. ‘the old tom cat’ is hard to top (among others), especially since it easily sets up the moon verse to follow.

  29. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the barmaid’s cheeks
    dimple as she smiles

  30. Thank you, John, I thought that one might be a bit over the top…
    Another question if you don’t mind: is the use of proper names appropriate at this stage?

  31. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    spit and polish
    on brand new boots

    -Jennifer Sutherland

  32. comparing maps
    to the mountain shrines—
    pilgrims’ stride

    a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the smell of rot
    from the sky burial

  33. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the hiss and crackle
    of nana’s ‘Twilight Time’

    – Sandra Simpson

  34. Nice verse, Margaret, well done!

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    the hiss and crackle
    of our favourite 78

    – Sandra Simpson

  35. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    how lucky to find
    this buried sixpence!

    Lorin Ford

  36. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    a vintage tea towel
    drying words

  37. Polona – Yes, that’s a little violent for the prologue. But tuck it away. It won’t be long before “anything goes.” (starting with verse 7)

  38. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    Shaq’s slam dunk
    shatters the backboard

    – or is this too “wild” for the prologue?

  39. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    silhouettes of possums
    peer from the roof

    – Lorin Ford

  40. a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    how lucky to find
    a sixpence in the mud!

    Lorin Ford

  41. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

    some more wear left
    in these gumboots

    Lorin Ford

  42. This is great! We are off to a really good start. I want to mention something that I see happening. Whether by design, instinct, or good fortune, several of you are offering fourth verses that could be excellent set-ups for the fifth verse, which will feature an autumn moon image. I haven’t been advising you of the nature of the upcoming verse but perhaps I should from now on, since it can be a creative factor and an enjoyable aspect of the game. It’s like “setting” the volleyball for another player to spike.

  43. dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    spectacles placed atop
    the astronomer’s head

  44. 3.
    dampened soil

    of seed trays
    
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    4.
    the loan officer accepts
    my business application

    – Paul MacNeil

  45. comparing maps
    to the mountain shrines—
    pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson
    a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    green jello under
    a plastic dome

    –Terri L. French

  46. comparing maps
    to the mountain shrines—
    pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson
    a sun-warmed stone bridge
    over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson
    dampened soil
    of seed trays
    in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

    harsh words sealed
    in a vellum envelope

    -Terri L. French

  47. a kid with bubble-wrap
    pops each one in succession

    ……..
    mom’s freshly baked muffins
    cool in perfect rows

  48. This is a fair question, Ruth, and one that should be asked in each instance, as we proceed. I would say that the link between “snowmelt” and “dampened soil” is very direct, almost sequential. We will want to employ a variety of linking styles as we go along. The hokku/wakiku link is usually very close and the wakiku/daisan link is quite close in this instance, so we may want to be imaginative about the daisan/verse four linking.

  49. Well, perhaps, John, you can answer a question I have about your choice for the third verse. When newbies like me read the information in the guided links you suggested, to learn about renku haiku, The Click of Mahjong Tiles, for example, lists an “object,” “meaning” or “scent” link in almost every verse. Can you point out what “link” there is in the third verse to the second verse of the renku we are working on? It would be interesting to know, because my offerings (though I haven’t submitted one) have tried to follow that charge.

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