Our selector is Dana Rapisardi and here is his report:
“Focused on selecting the capping verse I repeatedly read through the submissions, looking for that one. As a result, I’ve been immersed in poetry for days, which has been a pleasure.
My short list would not be very short if I included every verse that struck me in some way. Here are verses I found intriguing, entertaining, simply beautiful, etc.
Arriving early in the process was Laurie Greer’s:
probing the unconscious for
the source of recurring dreams
This was rather startling in its shift. “Unconscious” links quite clearly to “hiding place” and “probing” to exposing what lies hidden in it but with that we move far from the wet corner of yard where the crocus appears. I could hear Laurie’s verse in a quite serious tone, too, like a voice-over in a psychology documentary.
On the other hand, Laurie’s:
denying she peeked
as she counted to ten
made me laugh out loud, hurtling me back through time to childhood games of hide-n-seek, when peeking was a frequent cause for argument.
I felt each word in the first line of Wendy C. Bialek’s verse linked to the opening verse:
secret golden threads
yellow the rice
“Secret” to the no longer secret hiding place; “golden” because, I admit, writing the opening verse I visualized the crocus as yellow-colored; and “threads” is the term for the stigma and styles of the saffron crocus used in cooking. With the second line we shift from the outdoors to the fragrant kitchen, always a nice place to get to.
For me, quite novice renga poet, contrast serves as a shift too. For that reason, the capping verse Nancy Brady submitted:
a trumpet fanfare
I found outstanding. Though a welcomed sight, crocus are little flowers, low to the ground, humble even. But daffodils, one of my favorite spring flowers, are hard to overlook. Plus, these daffodils came with a sound-factor, a brass accompaniment, loud and proud.
Offering another form of contrast was Pauline O’Carolan’s verse:
and one lark
ascends into the blue
“Crocus” is one of those words that can be either singular or plural. I found a connection in “one lark”/one crocus, and a significant shift in that the lark gets to reach the skies which our one little crocus cannot. I appreciated the expansive feeling Pauline’s verse provided.
Also introducing movement/mobility and even more was Sandra St-Laurent’s verse:
taking out the cloche hat
for a stroll
Here I imagined someone, delighted at the early sign of spring, deciding to, like the crocus, make an appearance in their retro-stylish hat and enjoy some leisurely wandering, leaving behind our immobile flower. Whether or not it’s what Basho meant, I definitely felt lightness here.
My grasp of renga principles may not be all that firm, but, besides contrast, images that complement the opening image also got my attention.
John Daleiden”s verse:
beside a brick path
leading through the open gate
precisely located the crocus in a park or garden, filling out the scene.
Tracy Davidson’s verse:
a mud snail
clings to my wheelbarrow
kept us in the yard but shifted our eyes to something else, and our poem from the plant kingdom of the crocus, to the animal kingdom of the snail. Ignoring any possible reference to the New Zealand mud snail as an invasive species, I linked “mud” to muddy, which the ground would be after rain. “Wheelbarrow” made this verse kind of irresistible too, hearkening back to one of my most favorite poets, William Carlos Williams and his world-famous red wheelbarrow that so much depends upon.
Links to the opening verse’s rain were few but Jonathan Alderfer’s verse provided one of them:
the saffron sun
blazes in a puddle
The overnight rain left a puddle. Besides casting the beautiful color saffron upon my mind’s eye (saffron also making a direct link to crocus) Jonathan’s verse cast bright light. (I’d originally imagined the crocus exposed under a still overcast sky.
M. R. Defibaugh’s verse did likewise:
on the sidewalk
presenting a pleasing visual removed from what I continue to think of as a muddy yard where the crocus grows.
Dan Campbell’s verse:
awakened at dawn
by an old rooster’s cough
linked to the opening verse through time of day (as I imagine the crocus being seen soon as daylight arrives.) His maybe-it’s-funny/maybe-it’s-sad phrase “old rooster’s cough” shifted us to the countryside or even a barnyard.
The most extraordinary shift on this list came from Angiola Inglese’s verse:
I found the link through edible plant. Crocus are generally inedible but the crocus providing the saffron spice may be considered edible, as are chives. The image itself is lovely, simple and stylized as a Japanese print, but I’m equally satisfied to read this verse as a most exotic menu item!
Next comes my final choice for the capping verse to this week’s tan-renga. But first I want to assure everyone that there were additional contenders for this short list, and as someone more experienced in editors’ rejection than acceptance it hurt me a little leaving them out. But to select has a particular meaning and I’m abiding by it.
At the start of our tan-renga project John cited an article by Michael Dylan Welch, quoting this particular operation for a capping verse, which has become my guideline: ‘to link and shift… adding something at a right-angle to the preceding verse, yet still connected, whether emotionally, tonally, or in some other creative way.’
For me, of all the submissions this week, the verse I kept going back to again and again, which especially achieves that “right-angle” quality, is Michael Henry Lee’s verse:
the model and artist
briefly locking eyes
I read ‘model’ and thought, life model, therefore nude, amping up to stark visibility the crocus’s exposure. We shift not just from muddy yard to artist’s studio but in that eye-contact we enter the inner universe of emotion and who-can-say-how complex psychological interaction that happens when we lock eyes with someone, for however briefly—all contained in five tiny lines of poetry.”
the crocus hiding place
the model and artist
briefly locking eyes
Michael Henry Lee
John speaking again:
Michael Henry Lee will be offered the option of choosing our next opening verse from among those offered in the coming week. Michael Henry, 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 invited to offer three-line opening verses. They should be moon verses. Mention of the moon or moonlight in renku is presumed to be an autumn image unless modified to indicate a different season. Your moon verse can be set within the season of your choice.
Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. Michael Henry or I will review them until midnight on Monday, March 22 (Eastern US time). On Thursday, March 25, there will be a new posting in which Michael Henry or I will comment on some of the opening verse suggestions and select one of them to be begin our next tan-renga.
Looking forward to seeing your capping verses!
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