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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 33

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.

There were ninety-two offers, from twenty poets this time. Thank you, thank you, thank you times twenty. I love you all. This has been such a great experience.

I have been hoping that we might possibly have a kasen renku with thirty-six authors. This is still possible, though I wondered this time, since there were only a couple of verses submitted by poets yet to be included in the mix. They were enough,however, and so we go on with this hope. Please consider encouraging poets that you may know to participate in writing the final three verses!

In the meantime, I am deeply grateful to everyone for continuing to play and for offering such creative and stimulating verses. Here is a very small sample of those:

on the horse
with the clever name

    –Maureen Virchau

sometimes people
tell me they lived
in our home

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

drying the dog
with my brother’s
squirrel hoodie

    –Peg Duthie

the faux pas
with a gentle hug

    –Betty Shropshire

silk stockings
dry best
in the shade

    –Jennifer Sutherland

the weather man
points the way
with a laser

    –Lorin Ford

all the choices
boiling down to just one
and then this one

    –Alan Summers

looking forward
to disproving
today’s horoscope

    –Marion Clarke

whether Vermeer
did or didn’t
use a mirror

    –Christopher Patchel

Our thirty-third verse comes from Marilyn Potter. We do have references to computers/the internet but the stronger image here deals with architectural style. I especially appreciate the clean, logical line breaks in this verse.

Here is the verse you must link to:

a gothic revival
with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

The next link, the thirty-fourth, is the first in a final sequence of three spring verses that will conclude our renku. It should not feature any plant images since the next verse must have a spring blossom image. Like all verses of the closing section (kyu), it should feature a brisk, optimistic, and somewhat formal tone. Here are the requirements for verse thirty-three:

  • Spring image (but not a plant or blossom)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the thirty-third verse, and only the thirty-third 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, October 28, 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 30 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

pickled grapes and walnuts
swaddled in silk
in my messenger bag

    –Peg Duthie

no more wet newspapers
since the online version

    –Carmen Sterba

a gothic revival
with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

This Post Has 109 Comments

  1. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

    plaintive meows
    from behind the brick wall

  2. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

    sticking pins
    in the voodoo doll

  3. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    -Marilyn Potter

    a black cat sits
    upon my knee

  4. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    -Marilyn Potter

    Tantalus gets a taste

  5. Let’s see. Can’t use plants, birds, insects, mist, haze (too close to fog?), warm, melt, spring . . .

    an hour more daylight
    for sitting on a park bench

  6. hit the submit key too quickly and my previous verse has three lines … supposed to be:

    methodically herb gathering
    with the wildcrafter

  7. Previously posted:

    the first tick-tock
    of the museum’s clock

    Edited to include season word:

    the first tick-tock
    of the kite museum’s clock

  8. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

    at the flooded river
    a fireman harassed by police

    –Alan Summers

    n.b. true story, the firemen reuniting mothers with their children and the police looking confused, and not liking the much needed help. Shame there seems to be a traditional rivalry between the two services. I was going to be a Minder for one fireman who was sure he was going to be arrested for doing his job. Very weird time.

  9. a gothic revival
    with a single click

    -Marilyn Potter

    the great undertaking

  10. Withdrawn due to lack of season word:

    Dali’s Lobster Phone


    her unapologetic preference
    for Post-Impressionism

Comments are closed.

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