Our selector for this capping verse is John Hawkhead. Here is his report:
“Over the last week I have been fascinated to see the diverse and interesting responses to the opening verse of this renku session appear in the THF portal. Congratulations to everyone for your creative inputs.
When I set out to choose a capping verse, I approached my selections looking out for the link and shift expected in the response. In particular, I was looking for responses that followed on from the original sense of the opening verse and then shifted the reader’s attention to another image. I looked for verses where the response opens a new ‘door’ in the mind of a reader, but where the original imagery is not entirely discarded by the capping verse.
My intention for the opening verse was to follow the initial guidance to write about the moon which has, for me, an almost pagan symbolism in nature. So I hoped the cape of owl feathers took on an almost shamanic role while still retaining a strong natural sense of imagery as you might find in a modern ‘fairy tale’. I looked in the capping verses for images and descriptions that linked to that starting point and then shifted the reader somewhere else.
My shortlist starts with a clear link to the sense of spoken word storytelling:
a spark of fire from
the storyteller’s eye
This succinct use of just eight words transports us to a campfire tale with, perhaps, a hint of danger. I could have highlighted three capping verses from Ellen who captured the ‘feeling’ of the original verse, but I also wanted to include this one in particular, which shifts the reader’s focus while retaining the connection with nature and mystery:
the barn door locked
with a spider’s silk
Another verse that links to the sense of mystery and fills my imagination with images of light and shadow is this:
the seventh sister
conceals her face
Why does the seventh sister conceal her face; who is she? I suspect we can all come up with our own answers and, for me, that’s a good thing.
And then there’s this verse that also plays with darkness and light, and carries a sense of foreboding and omen:
sirens sing darkness
to the shipless ocean
Seven words to fill imagination with an ocean of encroaching darkness.
But there’s room in the submissions for love too, even if that emotion comes with a sharp edge:
love hides its talons
Indeed, love can grip the heart in icy talons…
Finally, my selection for the capping verse is this dark and resonant piece of succinct writing:
the beaked shadow
of the plague doctor
This clearly links to the owl feathers and moonlit shadows of the opening verse and then shifts us dramatically into the current world during the Covid-19 pandemic ‘plague’. It retains the sense of mystery and storytelling through that chilling image of plague doctors stalking medieval streets in their beaked masks, but with a fully modern relevance. Great stuff!”
moonlight dons a cape
of owl feathers
the beaked shadow
of the plague doctor
Marion Clarke will be offered the option of choosing a new opening verse from among those offered in the coming week. Marion, please let me know if you are willing to make the next selection. As always, I am ready to make it if you would rather not and ready to consult with you, if you do want to choose.
This week, you are all invited to offer three-line opening verses. Let’s do blossom verses this time.
Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. Marion Clarke or I will review them until midnight on Monday, April 5 (Eastern US time). On Thursday, April 8, there will be a posting in which Marion or I will comment on some of the blossom verse suggestions and select one of them to begin our latest tan-renga.
Looking forward to seeing your verses!
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