Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Tan-Renga Week 11

renku_300

Hello, everyone. We are focusing on tan-renga for the remainder of the year. While I’m not certain how deeply rooted in its history this may be, I’m going to urge you to think of tan-renga in two ways. One way is to think of it as the shortest of all renga/renku forms. This would encourage variety in the linking styles and perhaps some great leaps. The other way is to think of it as collaborative waka/tanka, which might support closer linking, bordering upon narrative.

 

We received 105 opening verse offers this week, from 26 poets.

 

Here is my short list:

 

winter air
entering the fog
of weather talk

John Hawkhead

 

 

 

 

year end
the chestnut seller’s
blackened fingers

Robert Kingston

 

 

 

 

New Year
all the fuss
among the sparrows

Keith Evetts

 

 

 

 

black trees
line the long hill
above a frozen lake

Dick Pettit

 

 

 

 

parchment lichen
another year
for the annals

Laurie Greer

 

 

 

 

looking back
and looking forward
—a hogmanay toast

Nancy Brady

 

 

 

 

final play
using all my Scrabble tiles
forgiven

Michelle V. Alkerton

 

 

 

 

year’s end
another book to close
and shelve

Richard Straw

 

 

 

 

yearly corn maze
now a stubble field
solved crossword

Beni Kurage

 

 

 

 

cold realisation
my life no longer warrants
a diary

Marion Clarke

 

 

 

 

white bark unraveling . . .
the lies I told myself
just last fall

Jonathan Alderfer

 

 

 

 

taxi ride –
the whole journey packed
in a bag

Amoolya Kamalnath

 

 

 

 

And here are the finalists, with some comments:

 

 

 

year end
the chestnut seller’s
blackened fingers

Robert Kingston

 

Most of us will have written English-language haiku or tanka before we attempted any of the collaborative forms. As a result, it is instinctive for us to attempt to “complete the job” with our first three lines. But this is a skill we might do well to unlearn, to some degree, when offering renku verses. The above verse is vivid, gives us something to imagine, but stops short of making any direct statement beyond the implications of those things depicted. Writing tan-renga is a little bit like volleyball. We “set” with the opening verse, so that another player can “score” with the cap.

 

 

 

looking back
and looking forward
—a hogmanay toast

Nancy Brady

 

My personal rule, which I’ve probably stated here before, is that I have to be rewarded for my effort if there is a word I have to look up. I’m glad I now know about “hogmanay.” If the implied topic here is the past and future of language, and what that says about us, the capping verse could take us almost anywhere.

 

 

 

 

final play
using all my Scrabble tiles
forgiven

Michelle V. Alkerton

 

Returning to my volleyball example, this verse might look like an attempt to score but it could also serve as an effective “set,” leaving the scoring to the cap.

 

 

 

 

year’s end
another book to close
and shelve

Richard Straw

 

And here we have a quite straightforward metaphor. Twisting the cap, however, might open up unanticipated possibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Even more than usual, I see each of these as deserving effective capping. I’m going to select one to work on for the archives but I encourage you all to play the game with the others. Here is my selection for the final week:

 

 

 

final play
using all my Scrabble tiles
forgiven

Michelle V. Alkerton

 

 

 

 

THIS WEEK

Please make up to five offers of capping verses for Michelle V. Alkerton’s opener. And please consider offering capping verses for the other finalists; for fun, practice and out of respect.

Enter your offers in the comments section, below, before midnight (Eastern US time) on Monday, December 19th. On Thursday, December 22nd, I will select the capping verse and comment on the process.

 

Thank you, all, once again,
John

 

 

 

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy: https://thehaikufoundation.org/about-thf/policies/#code-of-conduct

This Post Has 77 Comments

  1. cold realisation
    my life no longer warrants
    a diary

    Marion Clarke

    the mantel clock
    to celebrate retirement

  2. Inspired by the short list, too! It’s been a joy to read all the poetry. John, thank-you for your direction.

  3. taxi ride –
    the whole journey packed
    in a bag

    Amoolya Kamalnath

    did I bring enough
    for change

  4. winter air
    entering the fog
    of weather talk

    John Hawkhead

    a sprouting limb
    of the cherry tree

  5. cold realization
    my life no longer warrants
    a diary

    Marion Clarke

    … to journal by
    the fireside

  6. white bark unraveling . . .
    the lies I told myself
    just last fall

    Jonathan Alderfer

    winter tree
    its light

  7. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    brush slush
    from blackened toes

    … … …

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    feeling that
    makes me cry out

    … … …

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    confessions true
    blind spots – a few

  8. black trees
    line the long hill
    above a frozen lake

    Dick Pettit

    yellow blossoms in springtime…
    the sugar maple tree

  9. Congratulations Michelle! A lovely ku!
    Thank you, John, for pausing on one of mine, and for your guidance!

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    first liplock
    after the storm

    many foreign coins
    still in my old album

    her stage performance
    after the rose tea

    the picnic basket
    stuffed with sweet treats

    a dove’s nest
    just beneath the roof

    year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    his gangrenous toes
    still to be amputated

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    opening the cork
    of a champagne bottle

    prising open
    a bubble wrap

  10. yearly corn maze
    now a stubble field
    solved crossword

    Beni Kurage

    except for that one word…
    eludes me

  11. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    tidy up again
    Santa Claus is coming

  12. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    in an emergency
    sirens provide assistance

  13. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    – Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    a clap of thunder
    off in the distance
    – Betty Shropshire

  14. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    not spared
    a dirty look
    **
    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    our exchange
    of off-season conversation hearts
    **

  15. Congrats to Michelle as well as to the other finalists. Thanks, John, for including one of mine in the mix of finalists, too. Now, for some capping verses for them all after a hectic weekend.

    year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers
    –Robert Kingston
    the lamplighter’s whistle
    brightens dark corners
    *
    the cold moon shines
    on the cobblestones

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve
    –Richard Straw
    he heads to the bookstore
    for Atlas Shrugged
    *
    grabbing the decanter
    he pours a double

     looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast
    –Nancy Brady
    at the Burns’ Night Supper
    they serve haggis
     
    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    –Michelle V. Alkerton
    he suggests
    switching to cribbage
    *
    too late to play
    the Q tile
    *
    the cat jumps
    scattering the tiles
    *
    using the I
    to play quixotic
    *
    watching the ball
    fall in times square

  16. year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    my tattered jacket
    in the goodwill pile

    Sarah E. Metzler

    1. revision:

      year’s end
      another book to close
      and shelve

      Richard Straw

      my tattered jacket
      on the goodwill pile

      Sarah E. Metzler

  17. looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    the last goodbye hug
    the warmest

    Sarah E. Metzler

  18. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    the night’s offering
    of stars

    Sarah E. Metzler

  19. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers
    — Robert Kingston
    ****

    an old man weeping
    under a weeping willow

  20. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers -Robert Kingston

    an old iron grate
    polished up a treat

    Smashing verse, Robert.

  21. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    a slight touch
    tickles my scars
    _________

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    fewer tears
    and more resolve
    ________

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    holiday recipes
    tucked in with drying leaves
    ______

    Thanks to all for sharing.

    Stay inspired!

  22. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    the warmth of the hearth
    between my toes

    ***

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    God rest ye merry gentlemen
    Lift up your glasses

    ***

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    i walk past the weeping willows
    out of the shadows

    ***

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    my naughty cat
    disappears under the couch

    *

    break open the champagne!
    time to watch the ball drop

    *

    i smile at my grandmother…
    her hands arranging the tiles

    *

    the street lights came on
    too early this year

    *

    we walk to the diner…
    neither one of us hungry

    *

    Diana Jeong
    Pasadena, CA

  23. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    greeting old and new
    customers with a joke
    ….

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    next year I will take
    better care of the garden

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    hold on…
    something in the last chapter

  24. Congratulations Michelle…an intriguing opening verse
    and also to the finalists: the poems… jibing beautifully with the theme.

  25. final play using
    all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    “…70 times
    seven…”
    ….

    final play using
    all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    for shrinking his
    favorite Christmas sweater

    final play using
    all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    they remove the tiles along
    the roof … lowering their friend
    …..

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    …almost too good
    to be true

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    He wipes them
    clean

  26. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    back to life
    at the dead letter office
    **
    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    the mea culpa
    disqualified
    **

  27. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    not forgiven
    keeping score

    f – o – r – e – i – g – n
    plays on love

  28. the hidden question mark
    left hanging

    another lie
    I learn to live with

    on his calculator
    he types out ‘BOOBIES’

    claiming another corner
    of the chocolate box

    mouthing double words
    none of them repeatable

  29. with a candlestick
    in the library

    drawing a blank
    where i set the keys

    pending
    a recount

    your no good your no good
    baby your no good

    penalized for
    excessive celebration

  30. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers
    — Robert Kingston

    always was
    a poet by night

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve
    — Richard Straw

    the dog’s ears twitch
    in fireside dreams

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast
    — Nancy Brady

    the fiddler’s wife
    under the mistletoe

  31. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    quoting Haydn
    whilst intending Satie

  32. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    Congratulations Michelle!

    Thank you John for considering mine among some fine verses.

  33. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    —Michelle V. Alkerton

    let your indulgence
    set me free

  34. Congratulations Michelle and thank you John
    ****
    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *****
    waving to flying fish
    headed for the moon
    *****
    counting the thirteen steps
    on the prison guard tower
    *****
    bits of a prisoner uniform
    decorating the barbed wire
    ****
    his pistols and dice
    are always loaded

  35. Thank you for choosing my verse for the opening John. I have really enjoyed reading and participating in these sessions. I hope to offer some capping verses to the other offerings later in the week, but for now here’s one for mine.

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    we exist before she exits
    now just letters rearranged

    1. oops! syllable count

      final play
      using all my Scrabble tiles
      forgiven

      Michelle V. Alkerton

      we exist then she exits
      now just letters rearranged

  36. Congratulations to Nancy Brady and to our three runners-up, Robert, Michelle and Richard.
    .
    Well, it’s Summer in Victoria, Australia, now, but you wouldn’t know it: rain, hail and even snow this week! And the weather bureau has taken to referring to rain as “showers”.
    —————

    year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers – Robert Kingston
    .
    any moment
    the ghosts of Christmas past

    looking back
    and looking forward
    — a Hogmanay toast – Nancy Brady

    the bonnie charm
    of a Glasgow accent

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven – Michelle V. Alkerton

    an archived episode
    of ‘Mother and Son’

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve – Richard Straw
    .
    then the pages fall open
    at East Gidding

    Cheers!

    1. Whoops! I got MIchelle and Nancy mixed up! My apologies.

      Congratulations, Michelle, for John’s selection of your opening verse:

      final play
      using all my Scrabble tiles
      forgiven – Michelle V. Alkerton

      1. “East Gidding being half way between East Coker and Little Gidding?”

        Probably, Keith 🙂 ( Duh! I think I might be suffering from Senior’s virus, sometimes referred to as ‘brain scrabble’. )

        .

        revised to:

        year’s end
        another book to close
        and shelve – Richard Straw
        .
        then the pages fall open
        at Little Gidding

        (But let’s not forget Adlestrop.)
        .
        year’s end
        another book to close
        and shelve – Richard Straw
        .
        but still the blackbird sings
        at Adlestrop
        .

  37. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    bonus points
    adding up

    the final score
    left untallied

    his first move
    under the table

    his last word
    not in the dictionary

    a shovel for the sand
    in the hourglass

    Sarah E. Metzler

  38. looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    my never-ending love
    for legal immigrants

  39. year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    a prized first edition
    from the Goodwill Store

  40. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    casino slot game
    gambling hotline

    or

    but not forgotten
    Q comes out in the wash

    or

    winning the war
    adding un- to forgiven

    or

    left holding
    the letter bag

    or

    whistling past
    the graveyard

    year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    moonlight
    as a chimney sweep

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    cave paintings and grunts
    first words in the Pictionary

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw

    Strunk and White’s Rules of Style
    new colleague’s purple mohawk

    or

    Robert’s Rules of Order
    motion to run from the building

    or

    Who’s Who in America
    sin of omission

  41. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven – Michelle V. Alkerton

    new game begins
    just one rule

  42. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    booked on suspicion
    as cop gets his prints

  43. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    a gentle word
    to the wise
    **

  44. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    a graduate tosses
    her cap in the air

    could I ever
    beat my mother

  45. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    world without end
    amen amen

  46. Congratulations to Michelle V. Alkerton on an enigmatic opening verse. And thanks again, John, for your selections and guidance.

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    an older sibling
    smiles at the younger
    *
    a runaway returns
    the parent’s gaze
    *
    a wife smiles
    at the husband
    *
    a cellmate clears
    the board in silence
    *
    an adulterer reads
    the writing in the dirt

    +++

    Also, congratulations to the other finalists:

    year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston
    *
    the flower girl
    tenders a ha’penny
    *
    the chimney sweep’s
    teeth shine brightly

    +++

    looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady
    *
    a circle of friendship
    for “Auld Lang Syne”
    *
    may your first-foot
    ne’er be your last

    +++

    And, finally, a bit of “Sartor Resartus”:

    year’s end
    another book to close
    and shelve

    Richard Straw
    *
    the youth
    starts a sequel
    *
    the retiree
    rereads a classic

  47. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven
    *
    Michelle V. Alkerton
    *
    another letter
    to return to sender
    **

  48. Entertaining and instructive yet again. Thanks to all.

    final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton
    —-

    the stars aligned
    in syzygy

    an almost perfect enso
    in the coffee froth

  49. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    ..
    the time you take
    to say ‘sorry’

    .

    once again
    we walk and stay together

    .

    this new year
    i learn to forget our woes

    .

    the horizons between
    us to stay

    .

    going round and round
    the word ‘oak’

    .

  50. when the game of the goose gets serious
    *
    the surprise ending
    is just collateral damage

    *
    what it was
    now it lies half destroyed

    *
    illustrated cards invite
    players to weave complex narratives

    *
    that’s a jellyfish not a sugar jelly

  51. So good, Michelle! And thanks, John, for giving us this opportunity!

    discount store’s waffles
    just need extra syrup

  52. year end
    the chestnut seller’s
    blackened fingers

    Robert Kingston

    picking out the truth
    from the pledges

  53. looking back
    and looking forward
    —a hogmanay toast

    Nancy Brady

    life’s cataract
    behind the glasses

  54. final play
    using all my Scrabble tiles
    forgiven

    Michelle V. Alkerton

    your final letter
    still unburned

Comments are closed.

Back To Top