Greetings and welcome to The Haiku Foundation’s current Renku Session entitled, ‘Timber Smoke’. I am Marshall Hryciuk of Toronto, Canada and will be leading this session through a 36-link kasen renku.
So we have the first link in our renku:
one by one
I pick plums off of the ground
The best way to appreciate the link is to read this verse with the first verse together as a complete poem.
This link continues the mood of the first verse, in that things are slightly off-kilter. Forest-fire season is usually summer, plums are usually plucked from a tree. Further, the plum blossom appears, in the Japanese tradition at least, earlier than cherry blossoms but here they are not the blossoms but the trees’ fruit; harvested but not in autumn. So a slight un-ease, but not eerie and a smooth relay of muted motion and emotion.
Where the hokku was primarily a scent verse, here we have the sensual softness of the plum being carefully salvaged in a way that emphasizes its tactile quality as a connecting verse. Which brings me to three things: first, don’t enounce the season; ‘winter’, ‘summer’, ‘autumn’, even ‘spring’ and ‘fall’ i find to be meaningless verbiage in a renku where we are trying to show as subtlely as possible and tell as little as possible.
Secondly, we don’t want any narration to enter our relays of energy and subsume that energy into a logical sequence. Thus anything with fires or dawn were not acceptable for the first link and heavenly bodies will be out-of-bounds for this one since the moon verse will be in verse 5.
For verse 3 then, cooking and insects will also be out since they would relate directly, ‘narratively’ to the plums.
Thirdly, forget about the hokku. You may have just thought of a fabulous link back to it -but i won’t take it -i want you to link only to the very previous verse and leave the overall quality and direction of our renku to me.
So for verse 3 we need 3 lines, no particular season.
Other leaders may say, ‘no season’ but i want to encourage people to look for events that may happen in any season and are not ‘season-heavy’ or indicators; as for instance birds that don’t migrate.
I’ve been asked by Dick Prittit (sp?) to not only name my choice of link but also 3 runners-up, but i think this is unnecessary given that i will explain my choices with each added link but also because i don’t have a rigid criterion for what i accept as a link (nor do i have a template for the sequence of seasons). I respond intuitively and then examine in reflection why a particular link worked so well for me.
So worry not, i’ll have plenty to say and if you’re joining in, just concentrate on the most subtle and poetic link to the previous verse only.
Lastly, the first 6 verses are meant to lay a reserved and stable foundation for the rest of the renku, which allows for its greater improvisations later on. Thus, no violent activity or boisterous or foreign language can occur in these first 6, which also must be by 6 different writers.
So, 3 lines, no particular season and steer clear of fires, cooking or dwellings –
Happy linking -Marshall
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