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The Renku Sessions: Tan-renga – Week 9

renku_300

I am selecting this week and this gives me a chance to share some thoughts about what our tan-renga experiences have told me about the nature of the hokku and, therefore to some degree, about haiku.

I have often presented my ideas about how the nature of the hokku has informed our traditional expectations of haiku. We know that both will traditionally have an internal break. We know that both will have a season word or phrase. But there are other aspects of the hokku that have been less influential in forming our traditional idea of haiku. For instance, the hokku frequently reflects in some way the region in which the session is taking place. With more and more modern renku being written by people who are not physically present in a single place – in fact often spread across our planet – this aspect of hokku is no longer something that is expected. The hokku traditionally serves as an indirect compliment to the session’s host. But, again, an internet session does not have the same quality of hospitality that a face-to-face session has.

There is one quality of the hokku that I believe continues to create an expectation for our haiku, even though it is rarely presented as a requirement. Perhaps this is because it cannot be so easily pointed to as a season word or a grammatical break. This is the “open ended” quality of the hokku/haiku.

In my role as a haiku editor, I have often explained to poets who may be new to the genre that haiku are not riddles. They do not have a solution or a single correct answer. If a hokku had such finality, the writer of the next verse would have no choice but to deal with that solution or answer. But a renku opens in a manner akin to an opening montage in a movie, consisting of scenes setting a location and mood, before any of the plot action has taken place. Too much story is generally bad for a hokku and, by extension, for a traditional haiku.

I offer these thoughts, not especially in regard to your offers this week, but as thoughts that have come to me during the same period

 

Here is my short list of verses from this week’s offerings, with a few comments:

 

cloud viewing
even the moon
wears a mask

                        Wendy C. Bialek

 

This is a moon verse that also covers the topic of “current events.” Since there is no other seasonal reference, we would be required to consider it an autumn verse.

 

day moon
while waiting in line
for the vaccine

                 M. R. Defibaugh

 

Also a “current events” image.

 

half moon
when we were still
in love

                        Marion Clarke

 

And this is a moon verse that also covers the topic of “love.” As with the examples above, we would have to consider this an autumn verse.

 

thinking of her. . .
birch bark unravels
in the moonlight

                        Jonathan Alderfer

 

Perhaps also suggesting love but lightly.

 

a full summer moon—
we discover ourselves
in the first light

                        John Daleiden

 

A summer moon verse. What exactly is it we discover about ourselves? A capping verse could take us anywhere.

 

skinny-dipping
so many moons
ago

                        Peggy Hale Bilbro

 

When we are coming to a moon verse in a renku, I usually stress that we mean the literal moon and its light. This verse mentions “moons” as units of time and, tongue in cheek, as bare bottoms. But it’s hard to imagine this memory without seeing it as moonlit.

 

some moons
make you unlock
the canary cage

                        Dan Campbell

 

This seems like a flat statement. Indeed, unless we imagine the break to occur at the end of line three, it lacks only a period to make it so. But that “statement” is so suggestive of many things that it can hardly be considered “flat” at all.

 

from a distance
moonstruck
hornet’s nest

                        Wendy C. Bialek

 

This verse seems very close to what I said, above, about an establishing montage. It is quiet and yet it foreshadows the potential for frantic activity.

 

strawberry pie
left to cool
in the moonlight

                        Laurie Greer

 

Here is another “montage.” This one stimulates the senses of scent and taste. Note that the sense of scent and, especially, taste tend to involve stimulants that are physically close to us (as does touch) while sight and sound can often involve more distant stimulants.

 

butterscotch moon
a reflection good enough
to eat

                        Marion Clarke

 

And this creates a synesthesia moment – butterscotch being the apparent coloration of the moon and, upon reflection, something our imagination tells us would be good to eat.

 

Here is what I am offering for capping verses this week. I don’t want to say too much about it. What it invokes in me should not be allowed to cloud your own responses. But it does seem to me that there are multiple avenues here for linkage and a surprising shift.

 

witching hour
moonlight dons a cape
of owl feathers

                        John Hawkhead

 

 

John Hawkhead will be offered the option of choosing our capping verse from among those offered in the coming week. John, 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 two-line capping verses. They may be either non-seasonal or autumn verses. Note that “owl” is generally considered a winter image but the idea of a cape made of owl feathers is not to be treated as the presence of an actual owl.

Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. John Hawkhead or I will review them until midnight on Monday, March 29 (Eastern US time). On Thursday, April 1, there will be a posting in which John or I will comment on some of the capping verse suggestions and select one of them to complete our latest tan-renga.

Looking forward to seeing your capping verses! 

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://www.thehaikufoundation.org/code-of-conduct/ 

 

 

This Post Has 110 Comments

  1. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    shhh! the neighbours mustn’t know
    about mother’s secret
    .

  2. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    *

    she is very graceful
    although the fur shawl was not real

    Nani Mariani

  3. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhea

    *

    a blink of the
    green man’s eyes

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

    a red glimmer in the
    green man’s eye

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

    a gold glimmer in the
    green man’s eye

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

    a fiery glimmer in the
    gargoyle’s eyes

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

    a solemn chant beneath
    the gargoyle’s eyes

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

  4. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    eerie notes
    from the glass armonica

  5. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    *
    unwise for a mother-to-be
    to watch rosemary’s baby

    3/28/2021 by wendy © bialek

  6. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    *
    ah! to be an ornament
    on lady gaga’s cake

    3/28/2021 by wendy © bialek

  7. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    *
    ….. and the wind
    knows where to go

    *
    after all
    tomorrow is another day

  8. some bridges whisper
    and tell you to jump
    ################
    vasectomy
    he wakes up alone
    #############
    cash-strapped nights work
    part time as shade
    ###########
    some languages have
    dictionaries just for heartbreak
    #####################
    tadpoles scubadiving
    in a rusty can
    #######
    I pity extraterrestrials
    with two hearts
    #######

  9. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *

    tawny mist
    unfolding the twilight

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

  10. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    ———John Hawkhead

    a raven’s croak
    breaks the day

  11. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    .
    a spark of fire from
    the story teller’s eye

  12. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    ***

    just now
    another twilight

    Ivan Gaćina

  13. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *

    nightcrawlers spiral up
    the Alder’s roots

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

  14. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    *

    in the middle of nowhere
    i see seven stars

    Nani Mariani

  15. To John S.: I always appreciate learning more about renga/tan-renga. Thank you for your informative commentary.

    To John H.: I’m really caught up in the mysterious air of your capping verse. But I tried responding in various ways.

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    the shaman chants
    my migraine away

    ***
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    sunrise reveals
    just a sweater on a chair
    ***

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    it’s going to be
    a bumpy night
    ***
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    dude, sounds like
    you’re shrooming
    ***

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    faint daymoon
    hides amid cirrus clouds

  16. I’m in awe of the verse this week.
    Since John S. included in his comments that the owl feathers don’t have to be winter, I went for the feel on first read, which was autumn to me.
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    *
    leaves quiver
    in the autumn wind
    .
    lashes hidden
    by a fringe of hair
    .
    under the pumpkin
    a colorless shell

  17. .
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    .
    shall we read Castaneda
    or watch Polanski?
    .

  18. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    *

    every corner
    each has its own beauty

    Nani Mariani

  19. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    John Hawkhead
    **

    confetti
    ends a Halloween ball
    **
    fireworks hide
    champagne toasts
    **

  20. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    *

    feathered anklet bells
    jingling round the campfire

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/28/21

  21. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    jumpin’ in his heart-shaped
    glasses and deviled horns

    3/28/2021 by wendy © bialek

  22. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    Captain Cat sets sail
    in his dreams again
    *
    captin cat from under milk wood – dylan thomas

  23. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    *
    invited guest
    or ingredient?

    3/28/2021 by wendy © bialek

  24. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    the campfire’s ring of light
    only goes so far

  25. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    *
    a politician waves
    a great cause in a thick envelope
    *
    a ballet dancer slips
    carefully out of her window
    *
    and a round of cactus juice
    on my tab!

  26. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    (John Hawkhead)
    *
    a naked statue’s cue
    to leave the pedestal
    *
    the unexpected smell
    of a fresh fairy ring
    *
    another child
    missing
    *
    a nun prays
    entranced
    *
    wisely she locks
    her door
    *
    the hooting from the fans
    waking her again

  27. .
    .
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    .
    .
    not asking
    not telling
    .
    the wedding ring
    left on the hotel sink
    .
    is cinderella, too
    a relic of jim crow?
    .
    glass slipper
    glass ceiling
    .
    lady lazarus
    slated for another tony
    .
    one problem jeff bezos doesn’t have
    is bedhead
    .
    cargo ships, toupees, and joe biden
    also vulnerable to wind gusts
    .
    operating a crane
    is not unskilled labor
    .
    .

  28. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    ruffling through costumes
    inside attic trunk

    3/27/2021 wendy © bialek

  29. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    fluffing through costumes
    inside the attic trunk

    3/27/2021 wendy © bialek

    gypsy moth dust shakes
    grandma’s tambourine

    3/27/2021 wendy © bialek

    does this tambourine
    make my hips look big?

    3/27/2021 wendy © bialek

  30. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    suddenly the talking
    board loses its tongue

    3/27/2021 by wendy © bialek

  31. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    finding a door post he relieves
    his speech impediment

  32. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    striking an olive branch
    he draws pictures for the maid

    two twits can be more
    entertaining than one clown

    1. witching hour
      moonlight dons a cape
      of owl feathers
      *
      John Hawkhead

      *

      dim dim double the trouble
      and bubble the boil

      Michelle Beyers
      Copyright © 3/27/21

      after Shakespeare’s Macbeth Act IV scene 1 witches’ brew

  33. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    moving clouds
    the little girl waved

    Nani Mariani

  34. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    *
    three Wicca novices
    winging it
    *
    the grandeur of tribal elders
    standing on ceremony
    *

  35. witching hour
    the moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkshead
    *
    followed by an unholy racket
    of screeches
    *
    a glimpse of the dark side
    of her white magic
    *
    a smudge of smoke
    to bless the dream catcher
    *

  36. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    ———John Hawkhead

    a thrush flutes kaddish
    from the shadows

    stoned and washed
    in the heave of the tide

  37. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    .
    the story teller warms
    her hands at the fire

    1. witching hour
      moonlight dons a cape
      of owl feathers
      ..
      John Hawkhead
      .
      the story teller rubs
      the chill from her hands

  38. Congratulations to John Hawkhead.

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    ruffling in the wind
    a coyote’s howl

  39. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    how many carnival masks
    in my chilhood’s memories

  40. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    will there be the same luck …
    i knelt in the old church

    Nani Mariani

  41. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    that is pretty one
    and i decided to marry you

    Nani Mariani

  42. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    *

    spiders spin the umbra
    until it is set in silk.

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/26/21

    mermaids dot the sea
    with every golden scale

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/26/21

    sirens sing darkness
    to the shipless ocean

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/26/21

  43. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead
    ******

    the beauty of her baby’s eyes
    come into my dreams

    Nani Mariani

  44. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers

    John Hawkhead

    Big congratulations dear John !!

  45. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead
    .
    the barn door locked
    with a spider’s silk

  46. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    how slyly
    love hides its talons

  47. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    the hollow of her neck
    not the charm it once was
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    only a hollowness left
    when they’ve packed up the house
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    how the night trembles with bangs
    and whimpers
    *

  48. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    a stray feather in her hair
    as she parks the broom
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    staring down the long hollow
    of the moving van
    *

  49. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    ———John Hawkhead

    blue whales gather
    in the treetops

    what a lovely view
    from the osprey’s talons

  50. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    a trail of lucky charms
    leading back to childhood
    *

  51. Thank you John for such a wonderful rewarding comments on hokku
    *************

    bloom of merry song
    all through her ice cream stick

    ***

    a movie of choice
    her autumnal mood

    **

    all time curtain
    window needs shift

    **

    idle paper
    so much of news hidden

  52. Hi John
    I’m ‘over the moon’ on owl feathers to have my entry selected this week. I’d be very happy to work on selections and there are already some very interesting capping verses in the responses. I have responded with an email John – apologies for how long it took (work pressures).
    Regards,
    John

  53. Congratulations John Hawkhead on an intriguing haiku – will be interesting to read the capping verses submitted.
    .
    I wanted to clarify one of John Stevenson’s remarks that might be confusing:
    .
    “In my role as a haiku editor, I have often explained to poets who may be new to the genre that haiku are not riddles .”
    .
    Many of us who are new to the genre (myself included), are students of Jane Reichhold’s Bare Bones School of Haiku, in order to familiarize with the techniques of writing haiku. One of the techniques that Jane outlines is the riddle technique. Here is what Jane wrote about the riddle technique:
    .
    The Technique of the Riddle – this is probably one of the very oldest poetical techniques. It has been guessed that early spiritual knowledge was secretly preserved and passed along through riddles. Because poetry, as it is today, is basically the commercialization of religious prayers, incantations, and knowledge, it is no surprise that riddles still form a serious part of poetry’s transmission of ideas.
    .
    where do they go?
    these flowers on a path
    by summer’s passing
    .
    The trick is to state the riddle in as puzzling terms as possible. What can one say that the reader cannot figure out the answer? The more intriguing the set-up and the better the correlation between the images, the better the haiku seems to work. Here, As in anything, you can overextend the joke and lose the reader completely.
    Oh, the old masters’ favorite tricks with riddles were “is that a flower falling or is it a butterfly?” or “is that snow on the plum branch or blossoms?” and the all-time favorite – “am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man dreaming I am a butterfly?” Again, if you wish to experiment, you can ask yourself the question: if I saw snow on a branch, what else could it be besides blossoms? Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask yourself what else besides a butterfly could you have caught in the corner of your eye?
    .
    You can read more of Jane Reichhold’s wisdom at the ahapoetry website: https://www.ahapoetry.com/Bare%20Bones/BBless10.html

    1. Thank you. I needed to be reminded of that.
      .
      The notes I used to provide to poets usually began with the statement, “No one has the authority to tell you what an English-language haiku should be, especially not me. This is an open question and still in the process of being answered. But since you are, at this moment, offering your poems to me, I can tell you something about what I like in a haiku.”

  54. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    another masked crusader
    for justice
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    all is aswirl
    in the wake of Zorro
    *

  55. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    a children’s tune flows
    from her lips

    Lisbeth Ho©, 3/26/2021

  56. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    another tale
    to ease her insomnia

    Lisbeth Ho©, 3/26/2021

  57. Congratulations to all!

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead

    *

    unraveling the night
    in so many shades of grey

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/25/21

    1. Congratulation John! And thank you John S. for sharing information and thoughts about hokku !

      a leaf floats mid-air
      caught in a web

  58. congrats to John Hawkhead for such a fascinating upper part, and thanks to John Stevenson for the thoughts and commentary .. ☺ .. and now to find a lower part ..

  59. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    *

    all those sleepless nights
    nit-picking in bed

    3/25/2021 by wendy © bialek

  60. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    ———John Hawkhead

    a network of spies
    meets for dinner and drinks

    the gingerbread house
    reopens for business

  61. thank you john s for all that deeper guidance. sharing
    and the creative picks and encouraging comments! (honoured that you included
    mine, as well)
    .

    congrats john h for writing an enchanting opener!

    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    .
    John Hawkhead

    *
    down on the forest’s floor
    where pine crickets simmer

    3/25/2021 wendy © bialek

  62. witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    what could have been avoided
    by following spell-check
    *

  63. Thanks for all your thoughts, John! This continues to be a fascinating and ever more complicated project! And thanks also for noticing my strawberry pie.
    *
    witching hour
    moonlight dons a cape
    of owl feathers
    *
    John Hawkhead
    *
    the swoop of a superhero
    flying to the rescue
    *

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