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 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:
of seed trays
in the glasshouse
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
to the mountain shrines—
a sun-warmed stone bridge
of seed trays
in the glasshouse