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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 4

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.

Thirty-three poets offered a total of seventy-three verses for the fourth position in our renku. The level of creativity is inspiring and, in addition to the verse I have selected this time, I would like to commend Scott Mason (astronomer), Kris Moon (bubble-wrap), Sandra Simpson (favourite 78), Paul MacNeil (loan officer), Christopher Patchel (progress bar), Dru Philippou (glossy photograph), and I could easily go on. Everyone’s contributions are truly appreciated.

Our fourth verse comes from Polona Oblak. It represents a different style of linking. While the authoritative word on what is intended rests with the poet, I see this as linking by the hint of interests shared most often by people later in life–gardening and antiques. There is the further linkage of work that requires attention to details while being somewhat repetitive. And the shift provides us with our first reference to a family relationship.

Here is the verse you must link to:

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

The next verse, the fifth, is an autumn moon verse. Here are the required elements:

  • contains a reference to the moon (note that in renku practice any mention of the moon is presumed to refer to an autumn moon unless otherwise specified)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the fourth verse, and only the fourth verse
  • Shifting to a new topic and setting
  • Maintaining a tone appropriate to the prologue

Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, April 1, 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, April 3 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

      grandmother’s silverware
      polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

      This Post Has 121 Comments

      1. I didn’t realize, before starting, how hard these choices would be. But I am grateful, if humbled, to find that you have made them so. To be resumed on Thursday morning!

      2. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        her childhood
        in Ireland even the moon
        of chipped porcelain

      3. A beautiful haiku, Alan. Dru

        a boy changes
        his telescope into
        a moon ladder

        –Alan Summers

      4. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday
        — Polona Oblak

        keeping the frogs up
        all night in the shining pond—
        mid-summer moon

      5. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        hunter’s moon
        a trail of blood
        behind the werewolf

        Jennifer Sutherland

      6. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        hunter’s moon
        a werewolf leaves
        his victim dying

        Jennifer Sutherland

      7. one more:

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        a sonata
        on the concert Steinway
        played to the moon

        – Lorin Ford

      8. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        an old favourite
        on the concert Steinway
        in time for the moon

        – Lorin Ford

      9. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        the same sonata
        on the concert Steinway
        the same old moon

        – Lorin Ford

      10. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        in time for moonrise
        a sonata
        on the concert Steinway

        – Lorin Ford

      11. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        a sonata
        on the concert Steinway
        in time for the moon

        – Lorin Ford

      12. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        – Polona Oblak

        each phase
        of the moon parses
        a memory
        – dafne

      13. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        –Polona Oblak

        yews
        in the cemetery shiver
        points of moonlight

        Sonam Chhoki

      14. and to go in a slightly different direction

        in the moonlight
        red leaves
        rustle

        rust in previous comments suggested it, thanks, Terri

      15. Maybe this is better than my earlier

        red leaves
        wave without sound
        in the moonlight

      16. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblaka

        at the junk yard
        an old Chevy fender reflects
        the rusted moon

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        at the rehearsal
        the moon
        right on cue

        – Lorin Ford

      18. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        reflecting the sun
        midnight moon perches high
        above the pass

      19. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        the moon reveals
        our midnight rendezvous
        in the graveyard

      20. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        in the moonlight
        old oak stained cabinets
        glow

      21. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        by the light
        of this big, orange moon
        a jaunty fox …

        – Sandra Simpson

      22. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        a sip of Masala chai
        and the moon shifts shadows
        for a mime show

        –Alan Summers

      23. or maybe

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        caught in the mirror
        my reflection
        and the moon’s

        -Jennifer Sutherland

      24. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        caught in the mirror
        my reflection
        and the moon

        -Jennifer Sutherland

      25. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        -Polona Oblak

        With the moon so near
        I keep both hands
        at my sides

        -Patrick Sweeney

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        for a bush poet
        the moonlight
        and a magpie’s song

        – Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        on a bushman’s tent
        the moonlight
        and a magpie’s song

        (for John Shaw Neilson)

        – Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        dampened soil
        of seed trays
        in the glasshouse –Margaret Beverland

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        on a poet’s tent
        the moonlight
        and a magpie’s song

        – Lorin Ford

        (for John Shaw Neilson … had to do it)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaw_Neilson

        http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/neilson-john-shaw/the-magpie-in-the-moonlight-0037070

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        even carousers
        pause to remark
        on the moon’s halo

        Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        high above
        the cathedral spire
        a haloed moon

        Lorin Ford

      31. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        autumn moon sees
        all the lost things
        from the tornado

      32. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        trading tales
        about all the colours
        of the moon

      33. Sorry, I see now too many apostrophes … and I’m forgetting to sign my ku, so apologies for that too!

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        heeding the cry
        of the carnie & rolling up
        this big old moon

        – Sandra Simpson

      34. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        tonight’s moon
        heeding the carnie’s cry
        & rolling up

      35. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        tonight’s moon
        somehow making his promises
        believable

      36. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        promising all
        the usual things,
        a moonlit carnival

      37. over the moon
        about their baby’s
        first steps

        (I’m guessing the use of idioms is cheating but I couldn’t resist)

      38. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        -Polona Oblak

        Panthalassa sky…
        favoring one side
        I capsized the moon

        -Patrick Sweeney

      39. dining on quince
        by moonlight
        with a runcible spoon – Scott Mason

        the cow jumped over the moon
        read aloud
        by my computer – Chris Patchel

        the man in the moon’s
        uncanny resemblance
        to Uncle Edward

      40. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        by the light of the moon
        he helps her untangle
        her long white hair

      41. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        (slight change from the other entry)

        through moonlight
        the neighbor’s flute song
        repeating itself

      42. Christopher,

        Formatting seems to be undependable. Perhaps you could add a note about formatting, e.g. “’way to post’ should be italicized.” I’m not sure that italics will work in the opening but never say never. And we will quite possibly want this later, if not now.

      43. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        –Polona Oblak

        through moonlight
        the neighbor’s flute song
        repeats itself

      44. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        chaff rises
        from the threshing floor
        flits in moonbeams

      45. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        chaff rising
        from the threshing floor
        flits in moonbeams

      46. We are off and running again! Just a few reminders / hints: (1) be careful about using words (other than articles, prepositions, etc.) that have already been used (“stone” for instance) (2) since a stream has been invoked in verse two, please hold off on other bodies of water for a while (3) any verse that contains a dash or ellipsis is likely to have a “cut” (the cut should be between verses, not within them). Thanks!

      47. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        beams of moonlight
        cross the stone-lined
        threshing floor

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        granddad’s secret
        a moonshine still
        in the woods

        Jennifer Sutherland

      49. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday

        the moon
        tosses its coins
        along the shore

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        four hands
        at the concert Steinway
        play for the moon

        Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        four hands
        at the concert Steinway
        interpret the moon

        – Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        rising above
        its wrinkled reflection
        tonight’s moon

        Lorin Ford

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

        grandmother’s silverware
        polished every Monday –Polona Oblak

        rising above
        its wrinkled reflection
        the spring moon

        Lorin Ford

      54. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        in a moonlit ring
        the sumo recites a prayer
        with a toss of sacred salt

        Ron C. Moss

      55. Yes, Paul, lots of ways to link to the preceding verse (maeku) and with so many potential contributors to this renku, it has to be competitive and it’s absolutely necessarily that there is one Sabaki and Sabaki rules. 🙂 It may be an advantage to have worked with a particular sabaki previously, as the link, as well as other considerations, is ultimately in the mind of the sabaki. We all rely on that.

        You’ve got me wrong, though: I didn’t intend to indicate that your verse involved prior offers as ‘seeds’ or inspiration. It clearly didn’t. It was an original verse of your own that linked to the maeku. What I said was a ‘by the way’: it might have been or (better) I could interpret your verse as being *also* a comment / allusion to some candidate verses posted that seemed to have been inspired (used as seeds) by previously posted candidate verses . . . taking someone else’s idea and adding one’s own twist to it.

        I hope I’ve been able to clear this up with you now.

      56. Thanks, Lorin. But no, I’d never involve a submitted try to a Sabaki with some prior unaccepted stanzas. I write with John in person every year, perhaps several renku, and we use a Democratic method = no Sabaki. Each member of the group approves the verse proposed by the member whose turn it is (assigned). Lots of ways to write a renku. Lots of ways to link, too, as John is teaching all of us. See Fukuda-sensei, Higginson’s website, and Carley’s, too. As John just taught, the link is in a way in the eye of the writer. A Sabaki, or a Democratic group may see it that way or find additional other links. A verse is “accepted” when a group of a leader says so. Can always be more than one linkage — adds subtlety to the whole. – Paul

      57. Well, this was a pleasant surprise, and much appreciated.
        By the way, I have no objections to possibly capitalising Monday and/or Grandmother if it better suits the style of the kasen (but i suppose there’s plenty of time left to make that decision)

        As for the link (hope this helps a little, Ruth), one of my thoughts was indeed along the lines of repetitive work (as John so aptly observed). Other possibilities would be the associacion of tray and silver, and generations: new (seedlings) vs. old (grandmother).

      58. “. . . this refers to turning to a different meaning of the word “seed.” As opposed to starting plants to grow, consider “seed money.” I appreciate that you asked, “– Paul

        Thanks for explaining this link, Paul. I sort of got it, but wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just me reading into it. 🙂 When I first read it, I wondered if it was an allusion to what was happening on the thread: verses offered in previous posts being used as ‘seed verses’ by others who posted later.

      59. granmother’s silverware
        polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        Shouldn’t that be ‘grandmother’s silverware’ ?

      60. Dear Ruth,

        Glad to answer re: linking of my former candidate verse to Margaret’s accepted daisan (#3).

        the loan officer accepts
        my business application
        – Paul MacNeil

        . . . this refers to turning to a different meaning of the word “seed.” As opposed to starting plants to grow, consider “seed money.” I appreciate that you asked, – Paul

      61. Thank you, Sandra, for your reply. I do see now how your offer linked interestingly to #3’s verse. Unfortunately, for the others, not so much, even with John’s respectful explanations. And perhaps that’s what may be difficult for me, not wanting a tangent that needs to be defined.

      62. Hi Ruth,

        All I can say about my candidate verse is that glasshouses to me suggest something old-fashioned, most people in my country now use plastic houses as they’re easier to maintain and offer better insulation, etc – so the link in *my mind* is between something old (glasshouse) and something old (the 78 record).

        Sabaki often see other things in candidate verses and that’s okay too.

      63. Hi, Ruth. As I said about Polona Oblak’s verse, the final word on the intended linkage belongs to the poet. That said, I would suggest that many of the other verses I mentioned link “glass” to other forms or attributes of glass or to the concept of transparency. Kris Moon’s verse also links to the miniature sequential – seeds in seed trays and individual bubbles in bubble-wrap. One might picture some of the same fingers that poked holes for seeds involved later in popping bubble-wrap. I don’t know that any of the poets had these particular things in mind. And there are many other potential linkages. We don’t need to be exhaustive about links but it does help to be specific. Thanks for this question!

      64. John,

        If this renku is also a teachable moment, perhaps you could help some of us see the link to #3* for those you “commended” for #4.

        the hiss and crackle
        of our favourite 78
        – Sandra Simpson

        the loan officer accepts
        my business application
        – Paul MacNeil

        spectacles placed atop
        the astronomer’s head
        – Scott Mason

        a kid with bubble-wrap
        pops each one in succession
        – Kris Moon

        a family stares
        from a glossy photograph
        – Dru Philippou

        a progress bar
        for the jpeg upload*
        – Chris Patchel
        (I got this one.)

        * dampened soil
        of seed trays
        in the glasshouse
        –Margaret Beverland

      65. grandmother’s silverware
        polished every monday
        —Polona Oblak

        through moonlight
        the coyote’s falsetto
        near the chicken coop

      66. 4.
        grandmother’s silverware
        
polished every monday

        –Polona Oblak

        5.
        my imagination
        and blotchy craters
        making a moon face

        – Paul MacNeil

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