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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. Great work, everyone. Next verse will be posted tomorrow morning.

  2. 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

  3. 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

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

    who left
    the birdcage open?

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

    the sorrel mare
    jumps the pasture fence

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

    —Paul MacNeil

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

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    the best man excels
    at three card monte

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    a belly flop
    on the Senate floor

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    a belly flop
    on the floor of the House

  10. deciding afterall,
    that the badger cull failed

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

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    until the news
    hits the tabloids

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

    the politician’s
    answer opaque as his eyes

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

    -Paul MacNeil

    into the blue electric bath
    coaxial cable to my hip

    -Patrick Sweeney

  14. “The Dukes of Hazzard”
    at four in the morning
    -Alice Frampton

  15. a slight fix . . .

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

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

    – Paul MacNeil

    learning Italian
    from old cassettes

    – Sue Richards

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

    after the extraction
    the lips lisp

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

    – Paul MacNeil

    remember when Don Knotts
    and Rindercella were a hoot?

    – Sandra Simpson

  19. 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

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

    – Paul MacNeil

    the good old days when
    Don Knotts was a hoot

    – Sandra Simpson

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

  22. 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!

  23. the atmosphere
    thick with teenage pheromones

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

    the valley rich
    in fossil shells

  24. 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

  25. 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?

  26. –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

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    the cattle stampede
    to the trough*

    – Tal Goldman
    *(a delightful malapropism)

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

    the pole vaulter
    counts her steps

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

    an orange ribbon
    tied to her cane

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    he makes me an offer
    i can’t refuse

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

    –Paul MacNeil

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

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    a chipped china mug
    from the white elephant stall

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    dust on the covers
    of penny dreadfuls

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    we continue
    leaving no stones unturned

  35. 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)

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    zig-zagging away
    the lucky rabbit’s foot

    – Sandra Simpson

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    the famous actor winks
    grins, and throws a punch

    – Sandra Simpson

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

    temptation leads her
    to the coldness of ice cream

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    being over familiar
    with the blood group chimera

    -Alan Summers

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    going down hill
    the transfer of sunlight

    -Alan Summers

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    holes in the T-shirt
    where hard rain stabs

    -Alan Summers

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

    –Paul MacNeil

    the cardboard flap ripped
    off for a syringe

    -Alan Summers

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