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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 30

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.

Verse thirty will emerge from a total of sixty-six offers, made by a total of eighteen poets. My final selection came down to the following short list:

the difference between
a light bulb and a pear

    –Maureen Virchau

dissecting a walnut

    –Lorin Ford

hidden in golden leaves
pale orbs of mushrooms

    –mary white

the scarecrow reads
renku to the rabbits

    –joel irusta

dancing skeletons
chanting trick or treat

    –jerry julius

backyard selfie
with a leaf-bearing wind

    –Carmen Sterba

The first two of these (by Maureen Virchau and Lorin Ford) are eliminated, reluctantly and only, because we already have a verse from each of the poets. The verse from jerry julius relates to a holiday that is tied to a calendar date, October 31, which occurs in the spring for our Southern Hemisphere poets. It is possibly for this reason, at least in part, that Halloween is not listed as a seasonal topic on our list. Carmen Sterba’s offer was a frontrunner for quite a while but I couldn’t find a definite reference for it in our season words list and we already have a camera in the renku (verse 18). And, finally, I am releasing mary white’s gorgeous cornucopia of autumn images since we have a number of verses specifying or strongly suggesting specific colors.

That leaves one. Our thirtieth verse comes from joel irusta. The gentle nuttiness of this image seems like just the right closing for the “ha.”

Here is the verse you must link to:

the scarecrow reads
renku to the rabbits

    –joel irusta

The next link, the thirty-first, is the last in this series of autumn verses. It is also the opening verse of the closing section (kyu) of our renku. This section is sometimes referred to as the “fast finish.” The tone is brisk, optimistic, and somewhat formal. Here are the requirements for verse thirty-one:

  • Autumn image (with a brisk, optimistic, and somewhat formal tone)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the thirtieth verse, and only the thirtieth 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, October 7, 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, October 9 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


      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

      stirring the crowd
      with the slur of a slur

        –Maureen Virchau

      continents join
      under this moon
      the bones of my head

        –Patrick Sweeney

      the scarecrow reads
      renku to the rabbits

        –joel irusta

      This Post Has 83 Comments

      1. passing wind
        busies a leaf
        through the stacks

        – Betty Shropshire

        . . . ‘passing wind’, Betty? 🙂 That’d be a bit after eating the curry, perhaps?
        Thanks for the chuckle. 😉 Promise you’ll read it out, po-faced, at the next barbeque you attend. 🙂

        – Lorin

      2. the scarecrow reads
        renku to the rabbits

        –joel irusta

        surely it’s a lion
        stalking and pouncing
        on fallen leaves

        – Lorin

      3. Slight revision:

        writing poetry
        sitting on a bale of straw
        in the truck’s headlights

        Getting rid of the “this” meant going with two gerunds

      4. Previously posted:

        an ode to the chestnut
        in the poet-in-residence’s

        Another version:

        an ode
        to a chestnut
        in the poet’s briefcase

      5. Previously posted:

        the poet
        finding the right word
        in a chestnut’s shell

        Another version:

        the right word
        in a chestnut’s shell

      6. the scarecrow reads
        renku to the rabbits

        –joel irusta

        eyelids droop
        as night unfolds
        in the autumn lamplight

      7. Previously posted:

        children laughing
        atop a pyramid
        of hay bales

        Rewritten to replace “hay” with “straw”:

        children laughing
        atop a pyramid
        of straw bales

      8. Yes, good on ya, Joel! 🙂 It’s high time, and it’s a delightful verse.

        the scarecrow reads
        renku to the rabbits

        –joel irusta

      9. Thanks Maureen! I’m thrilled to have a verse in the renku!

        the mattress filled with
        new straw is now
        bug free

      10. That’s a wonderful verse, Joel. 🙂

        Previously posted:

        keeping an apple peel

        Rewritten in the necessary three lines:

        an apple peel

        Another version:

        the apple skin

      Comments are closed.

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