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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 9

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.

Twenty-six poets produced a total of ninety offers to complete our first sequence of love verses! It was truly difficult to choose this time. There were really lovely scent-based verses (Dru Philippou’s harmonizing scents and Terri French’s the scent of his cologne are particularly tempting) but, even though the “atmosphere” in Norman Darlington’s verse is essentially figurative, previous verses featured images of things either in the sky or airborne; so it seems necessary to pick up on “scents” somewhere further along the trail. I love Karen Cesar’s together so much but I’m going to hold off on second verses from any of our poets, at least for a while. I was also very pleased with Marion Clarke’s wishing but, with music in verse five, a jukebox would tend toward retrograde movement here. Others among the many tempting verses include offers from Sandra Simpson (in the darkest) and Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy (her patience). If we were writing with an exclusively American group, I would gladly have chosen Christopher Patchel’s ask your doctor but I’m not certain how widely recognized this American television ad is outside of the USA.

Our ninth verse comes from Paul MacNeil. We do not yet have a first person verse. And the tongue twisting quality of this one creates a new and different sense of pace than hitherto featured in our renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth”

    –Paul MacNeil

The next verse, the tenth, has no seasonal or other specific topical requirements. This is an opportunity for us to introduce some general topics that have not been touched upon. Examples might include an animal (one not assigned to a season on our list of season words), medicine/illness, politics, a non-English word or phrase, or athletics (again, not something associated with a particular season). Please resist the temptation to cover two or three of these in a single verse. It’s like taking a second helping (or third!) before everyone at the table has been served. Here are the formal requirements for verse ten:

  • Non-seasonal (avoids any topics assigned to a specific season in our list of season words)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the ninth verse, and only the ninth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting (and perhaps shifting in a way that has not yet been used?)

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, May 6, 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, May 8 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 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

      a sonata
      on the concert Steinway
      played to the moon

        –Lorin Ford

      a dragonfly hovers
      over 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

      This Post Has 87 Comments

      1. the atmosphere
        thick with teenage pheromones

        –Norman Darlington

        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        “It’s time to burn the beret
        and bury the blue dress.”

        -Karen Cesar

        * Monica Lewinsky quote

      2. the atmosphere
        thick with teenage pheromones

        –Norman Darlington

        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        where least expected:
        HERE BE DRAGONS

        – Karen Cesar

      3. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth”

        who left
        the birdcage open?

      4. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        the sorrel mare
        jumps the pasture fence

      5. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        —Paul MacNeil

        the vultures’ wild circlings
        over the old asylum walls
        –Marilyn Walker

      6. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        the best man excels
        at three card monte

      7. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        a belly flop
        on the Senate floor

      8. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        a belly flop
        on the floor of the House

      9. deciding afterall,
        that the badger cull failed

        (a recent cull in UK to try and stop the spread of bovine TB)

      10. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        until the news
        hits the tabloids

      11. I stumble
        trying to reply
        ‘I plight thee my troth’
        -Paul McNeil

        the politician’s
        answer opaque as his eyes

      12. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        -Paul MacNeil

        into the blue electric bath
        coaxial cable to my hip

        -Patrick Sweeney

      13. a slight fix . . .

        a murder of crows silent
        as it blends into twilight
        -Alice Frampton

      14. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth”

        – Paul MacNeil

        learning Italian
        from old cassettes

        – Sue Richards

      15. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth”
        – Paul MacNeil

        after the extraction
        the lips lisp

      16. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        – Paul MacNeil

        remember when Don Knotts
        and Rindercella were a hoot?

        – Sandra Simpson

      17. or, to avoid another “the”

        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        – Paul MacNeil

        those good old days when
        Don Knotts was a hoot

        – Sandra Simpson

      18. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        – Paul MacNeil

        the good old days when
        Don Knotts was a hoot

        – Sandra Simpson

      19. a murder of crows silent
        as they blend into twilight
        -Alice Frampton

      20. Karen:

        “John is it OK for me to keep submitting as long as I understand you are not choosing verses from those who have had a verse chosen already?”

        Yes, please! I hope everyone will keep playing. I don’t rule out including a second verse from someone at some later point but first I will try to include as many poets as possible. But, in the meantime, playing along will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the renku. Plus, I just like seeing what you come up with!

      21. the atmosphere
        thick with teenage pheromones

        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        the valley rich
        in fossil shells

      22. the atmosphere
        thick with teenage pheromones

        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        olms on display
        in Postojna Cave

        a bit of local endemic fauna, probably too exotic if i were posting a candidate verse
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olm

      23. what a revoltin’
        development dis is

        * puts this phrase more directly in Durante’s persona … and would probably need to be put in italics or quotes. I would probably choose the first more general one as it is, well, more general. John is it OK for me to keep submitting as long as I understand you are not choosing verses from those who have had a verse chosen already?

      24. –Alice Frampton
        the atmosphere
        thick with teenage pheromones

        –Norman Darlington
        I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        what a revoltin’
        development this is!

        – Karen Cesar

        * catch phrase of the 1940’s associated with ‘ Life of Riley’ radio show and Jimmy Durante, a comedian of the time

      25. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth”

        –Paul MacNeil

        the cattle stampede
        to the trough*

        – Tal Goldman
        *(a delightful malapropism)

      26. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth”

        the pole vaulter
        counts her steps

      27. (for my friend, Carla, who struggles with MS)

        an orange ribbon
        tied to her cane

      28. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        he makes me an offer
        i can’t refuse

      29. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        the chess master’s sheepish smile
        yielding to the touch-move rule

      30. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        a chipped china mug
        from the white elephant stall

      31. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        dust on the covers
        of penny dreadfuls

      32. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        we continue
        leaving no stones unturned

      33. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        a gift of carnivorous plants
        for the brand-new Queen

        – Sandra Simpson

        (Queen Maxima of The Netherlands received such a bouquet in September 2013)

      34. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        zig-zagging away
        the lucky rabbit’s foot

        – Sandra Simpson

      35. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        the famous actor winks
        grins, and throws a punch

        – Sandra Simpson

      36. sorry, an extra a showed up and this is better anyway

        temptation leads her
        to the coldness of ice cream

      37. I stumble
        trying to reply
        “I plight thee my troth.”

        –Paul MacNeil

        being over familiar
        with the blood group chimera

        -Alan Summers

      Comments are closed.

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