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The Renku Sessions: Way of the Wind – Week 18

Wayrenku_300

I am John Stevenson and I am your guide for a twenty-stanza, nijûin, renku.

 

Our task, at this point, is to make a very clear tonal shift from the “anything goes” quality of the “ha” (middle section) to the more formal and consistently positive “kyu” (fast finish). This is complicated by a couple of factors: our concern for avoiding any obvious back-linking and our commitment to including new poets.

In traditional Japanese practice, the session leader has great latitude in revising the offered verses. But that can be rather jarring for poets whose culture generally encourages near total autonomy in their work. As a result, I try to minimize my revisions. As we get to the later verses of a renku, however, this tool becomes ever more tempting because it is ever more potentially useful.

I write these commentaries in the order you are reading them. So, at the moment, I do not know what I will select for verse seventeen. But I am aware, in advance, that there are some verses that I would like to offer in somewhat altered form in order to make them contenders for the final selection.

 

We had, as always, some tempting verses from poets already included. I’ll begin by recognizing a few of them:

 

what’s filed away
between o
and z

                            Laurie Greer

 

petrified wood
worn smooth
to the touch

                            Betty Shropshire

 

time to give
the kaleidoscope
another twist

                            Keith Evetts

 

ephemeral
reflections
off a tin can

                            Berry Shropshire

 

yesterday’s heroes
still smiling in auntie’s
photo album

                            Lorin Ford

 

a generic
as good
as a name brand

                            Laurie Greer

 

pasting fresh
bookplates
in the hardcover classics

                            Laurie Greer

 

just enough oil
to free the rust
that slowed the wheels

                            Keith Evetts

 

 

My selection will be made from the following set of twelve offers:

 

 

hoping
a few old friends
stick around

                            Ann Smith

 

Hope is a good place to start if we want to establish a positive tone. Of course, this particular hoped-for thing seems to be offered in the context of contrasting possibilities.

 

 

a ruby wink
from the rising sun
jumpstarts the day

                            Jonathan Alderfer

 

We have avoided naming a color throughout this renku because the hokku does that. But this does not mean that we can’t have vividly colored images. “Ruby” treads the boundary nicely. I am a little concerned about “jumpstarts the day” when we have “the long day opens” in verse three.

 

 

in every chapter  
choice words highlighted  
in yellow

                            Liz Ann Winkler

 

Here is a verse with the positivity that will announce our “Kyu.” It has a grammatical break. Starting with a prepositional phrase will almost always produce one. And it names a color. These things can be easily fixed.

choice words
have been highlighted
in every chapter

But we have spent a lot of time with humanity and the arts and I would prefer a distinctly non-human image here, if possible.

 

 

CCTV cameras
capture the fleeting sunset
in black and white

                            Jonathan Alderfer

 

Sunset following a moon verse with only one intervening verse is a problem but easily fixed by substituting something for “sunset.” In the meantime, the simultaneous invocation of bright color and the muting of that color is an attractive way of marking the transition from “ha” to “kyu.”

 

 

life’s invitation
to find another
hobby

                            Sandra St-Laurent

 

“Invitation” offers us a lift here.

 

 

riding a bicycle
with friends
wearing colored shirts

                            Nani Mariani

 

Another colorful image without actually naming a color. The companionship is attractive. To see the colored shirts to best advantage, I imagine myself behind or among the group of cyclists. I did express, just last week, my concerns that “The Way of the Wind” already contains a street, a que, relentless pursuit, an airport and a departure.

 

 

giggling
behind the old shed
children tell secrets

                            Sean Felix

 

The light tone is attractive. I would have to make changes to eliminate the grammatical break. And we have “kids” in verse two and “old” in verse ten.

giggling children
tell secrets
behind the shed

 

 

cultivating
the pebbled waves
and island stones

                            Jonathan Alderfer

 

Here, at last, is a predominantly non-human image. Although “cultivating” is, in most senses, a human activity, it seems to be used in a somewhat novel and other fashion in this verse.

 

 

projects whirl
in his head
as retirement nears

                            Debbie Feller

 

The mention of retirement seems apt at this point. I would want to consider something gentler and perhaps more hopeful than “whirl.”

 

 

inserting (a) pencil
in his half torn
pocket

                            Radhamani Sarma

 

A close and vivid link to the scarecrow, suggesting that he may be moving on and possibly finding a new career.

 

 

the scales
of justice
(are) finely balanced

                            Ann Smith

 

Many of us will be acutely aware that this does not always seem to be the case. But read as pertaining to a particular instance, it invokes a peace, serenity and satisfaction that serves us well in this position.

 

 

no guilt
in taking
a mid-day nap

                            Debbie Scheving

 

Almost a “time out” signal!

 

 

 

 

Here is what I have selected as our seventeenth verse:

 

cultivating
the pebbled waves
and island stones

                            Jonathan Alderfer

                           

 

 

Here is what we have, so far:

 

Way of the Wind

 

 

green barley—
we follow the way
of the wind

                        Lorin Ford

 

kids playing pooh sticks
with plum blossoms

                            Linda Weir

 

the long day opens
with a chime of pots
on the kitchen island

                            Laurie Greer

 

a coin in the cap
of a street busker

                            Andrew Shimield

 

summer moon
low on the hips
of the horizon

                            princess k

 

mosquitoes know that my wife
has sweeter blood

                            Dan Campbell

 

still drawn to him
after all the bumps
along the line

                            Wendy C. Bialek

 

queuing up to enter
the Escher exhibit

                            Carol Judkins

 

do you think
they discovered chaos theory
by chance

                            Keith Evetts

 

three-martini lunch
with old pals from sigma nu

                            Betty Shropshire

 

wolves
in relentless pursuit
across the frozen tundra

                            Sally Biggar

 

pidge porridge hotter
than the fires of hell

                            Michael Henry Lee

 

that delicious fillip
of excitement
from a sidelong glance

                            Marietta McGregor

 

Rick and Ilsa
in the airport fog

                            Christopher Patchel

 

taking leave
of the harvest
moon

                            Kanjini Devi

 

the scarecrow reluctantly
turns in his badge

                            Maxianne Berger

 

cultivating
the pebbled waves
and island stones

                            Jonathan Alderfer

 

 

 

 

The requirements for verse eighteen will be as follows:

  • A two-line verse of fourteen syllables or less
  • Without a seasonal image (kigo)
  • Without a grammatical break
  • Linking in some way to verse seventeen (and in no obvious way to previous verses)

 

We are now in the closing section of the renku (“kyu”). Of this section, Professor Fukuda has written, “This part should be written calmly and pleasantly. Here again, we can say we write in formal attire.”

 

For this renku, we will be using this site (http://www.2hweb.net/haikai/renku/500ESWd.html) as the source for our season words and images (kigo). Kigo are not always intuitive so it is a good idea to check the list before submitting a non-seasonal verse, just to be sure it does not include an inadvertent seasonal reference.

 

I will be reviewing your offers until midnight on Monday, August 30 (New York time). On Thursday, September 2 there will be a new post in which I will announce my selection of the eighteenth verse, comment on some of the other offers, and issue instructions for writing verse nineteen.

 

Keep up the good work, everyone!

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 83 Comments

  1. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    – Jonathan Alderfer

    the unfathomable sweep
    becomes an octopus
    – Betty Shropshire

  2. A lovely verse, Jonathan.
    *
    window left open
    in the seaside hotel
    *
    a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    *
    smoothing the top
    of a birthday cake

  3. Wow Jonathan! Congratulations! And thanks John for keeping us going in the right directions!

    finding fossilized coral
    in the Midwest

    dinosaur bones resting
    just below the surface

    prophesying life
    over what is dry

    light subtlety elevates
    the ruins

  4. a ring
    all from sea pearl
    **
    learning by rote
    all poems his like
    **
    his first coffee
    his first flavor
    **

    thistle in sandals
    spoils my trip
    **
    sun worship
    a sacred rhyme
    **

    read aloud poems
    great solace for her

  5. the scarecrow reluctantly
    turns in his badge

    cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    our island stories

    the craft shop on the quay
    has ships in bottles too

    the people are reserved
    but friendly & polite

    the storm of twenty-one
    brought us many new friends

  6. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    a splash of sea-salted air
    dances in the singing bowl

    8.30.2021 by wendy © bialek

  7. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    doodling rick-rack
    with a bonsai rake

    8.30.2021 by wendy © bialek

  8. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    her hessian robe
    tied with a splash of colour

    it bounces seven times
    before it sinks

    all the litter
    collected for recycling

    Charlie Watts leaves his cymbals
    still reverberating

  9. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    and pirates
    he overbearing with a cloak and a stooped fur hat

    Nani Mariani

  10. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    *
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    is there nothing
    that can’t be questioned?
    *
    the mark of a question
    without an answer
    *
    is every question
    slightly dotty?
    *

  11. a lighthouse beam
    shattering the darkness
    *
    a mermaid sipping rainwater
    from a lighthouse cistern
    *
    a bonsai in Ebina
    betting on a breeze
    *
    two hundred fifty steps
    to the top of the lighthouse

  12. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    – Jonathan Alderfer

    crème brûlée and coffee
    and stories of home
    – Betty Shropshire

  13. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    *
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    a flintknapper
    from way back
    *
    retooling the basics
    for a sleek new look
    *

  14. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    *
    Jonathan Alderfer

    comfortably ensconced
    in the mesolithic

  15. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    *****

    spellbound by the swirls
    in marbled silk

  16. a plastic Buddha
    sits under the silk bonsai

    so many neurons
    in every heart

    we open our bubble
    to double vaxxed friends

  17. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    no-one knows how many hands
    shone the handle of the rake

    Buddha still
    gives nothing away

    behind the rough-hewn wall
    there is an orchard

  18. Verse 4 :

    cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    pearl
    obtained from a quiet place like this

    Nani Mariani

  19. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    .
    Jonathan Alderfer

    the cat walks
    through the sand
    .
    a cat flicks his tail
    through the sand
    .
    the switch of his tail
    through the sand
    .
    Nancy Brady, 2021

  20. I really liked your verse, Jonathan, and found it inspirational for linking to.

    Verse 1:

    see the gem winking
    on his ancient finger

    Verse 2:

    career advancement
    was everything to him

    Verse 3:

    something was buried
    in the garden

    Verse 4:

    windscreen wipers
    in monotonous rhythmn

    Verse 5:

    she threw her lace gown
    over the edge of the sea

  21. a Zen garden
    to restore the spirit
    ***
    the blue tiles in the tub
    suggest the sea
    ***
    manage not to think
    while the rake goes
    ***
    a secluded place
    and a light chat

  22. Congrats to Jonathan ! Have always wanted one of those tabletop perpetual fountains for my little rock and pebble collection. Your verse brings it to my minds eye.🙂

  23. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    a temple rests
    at the top of the mountain

  24. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    and I realized
    it’s the ruins of the tsunami

    Nani Mariani

  25. Wow! I really like the visual and almost musical feel of your verse, Jonathan! I could hear the rings forming, the slow movement of water, the roughness of sand and stones. Bravo!

    Following:

    slipping shawl slowly showing
    a tribal tattoo

    still tasting a hint of reverie
    from the tiki stamp

  26. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    – Jonathan Alderfer

    an oracle’s answer
    echoes inside the cave
    – Betty Shropshire

  27. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    .
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    lala salama
    spelled across earth’s dunes
    *

  28. Congratulations Jonathan and thank you John!
    *
    the echo of stilettos
    on cobblestone streets
    *
    pelicans flying in formation
    above the waves
    *
    for sale NOW
    sign on the sandcastle

  29. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    scents of incense
    permeate the granite

    with every tide
    a beach is rearranged

    a ripple in the bark
    hints at rising sap

    a mountain also moves
    among the trees

  30. an empty bucket and spade
    where she was sitting

    her siren song
    carries across the knots

    what lies beneath
    that polished surface

    breaching the surface
    in a tangle of kelp

  31. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    *
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    trying on his new accent
    in the mirror
    *
    trying on
    the new accent
    *
    not so refined that he can’t
    laugh at his own jokes
    *

  32. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    *
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    the calculated flaw
    that brings things to perfection
    *

  33. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    ****

    there’s an art to
    repacking ball bearings

    ****

    so much depends
    upon ball bearings

  34. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    .
    Jonathan Alderfer

    an almost perfect circle
    drawn with a branch

    the pattern repeats
    every so often

    from time to time a pause
    to feel the pulse

    what it must be like
    to be hugged by a tree

  35. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    endless in sight
    like equatorial emeralds

    Nani Mariani

  36. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    upright the light pierces the image
    illusion mirror

    Nani Mariani

  37. Congratulations dear Jonathan ❤️ happy to be gathered here and get excellent guidance and threads from dear John. Thanks my bike is here…

  38. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    .
    Jonathan Alderfer
    .
    beyond the fence
    kookaburras laughing

  39. Congratulations, Jonathan – it is a pleasure to see a touch of lyricism introduced. And again, an absorbing commentary and guidance from John.

    cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    a tyro learns to prune clouds
    over roots that grip the rock

    the perfect curves of gravel
    last less than a day

    the oldest monk suppresses
    a ripple of laughter

    at seventy he reaches
    an impressionable age

  40. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    a bird lurks until
    the fountain flows again
    *

  41. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    a whiff of sea-
    salted air

    8.26.2021 by wendy © bialek

  42. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    – Jonathan Alderfer

    I focus on the brief life
    of a fiddler crab
    – Betty Shropshire

  43. cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    an ensō on next year’s
    zen retreat

    8.26.2021 by wendy © bialek

  44. Lovely verse! This is perhaps becoming the Archipelago of the Wind! Thanks for writing it, Jonathan, and for selecting it John. And for noticing my offerings.
    *
    cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones
    Jonathan Alderfer
    *
    the strength and the beauty
    of the cobbled together
    *
    what’s cobbled together
    is made to last
    *

  45. congrats jonathan for composing a beautiful verse for our renku!
    how special this process is and how i look forward to your comments and handling,
    each thursday, john.

    cultivating
    the pebbled waves
    and island stones

    Jonathan Alderfer

    planning next year’s
    zen retreat

    8.26.2021 by wendy © bialek

  46. John, thank you for your comments. Your guidance and insights always keep the renku moving forward in unexpected and thought-provoking ways. I’m delighted to have a verse included.

    1. Jonathan, Congratulations! You were on fire with multiple takes for Verse 17. I had missed this later stone verse offering that John chose, as I had already fallen for your verse:
      *
      by the willow
      where the water speaks
      there is a net and a fish
      *
      Thank you John for shepherding us through this renku. Enjoying the surprises.

  47. It’s not perfection but perhaps it is a little imperfection that will set off the beauty of the whole piece.

  48. Hi, John. Does it matter that we have ‘kitchen island’ and now ‘island stones’? I know the context is different…just asking for future reference. 😊 ‘Berry’

    1. An interesting question, Betty. It probably depends on whether we focus on the word/s or the thing the word/s represent/s. I was curious so looked up the origin of the word “island”.
      .
      “Old English īegland, from īeg ‘island’ (from a base meaning ‘watery, watered’) + land. The change in the spelling of the first syllable in the 16th century was due to association with the unrelated word isle. ”
      .
      (I have no idea when “kitchen island” came into the language.)
      .
      In Jonathan’s verse, “island stones” might be stones associated with an actual island in the primary sense of the word, (stones on or around a literal island), or a way of saying “stones surrounded by water” or (and I suspect this is the most likely interpretation) , as with the kitchen island, nothing literally to with an island at all apart from being surrounded by something.
      .
      It’s “cultivating” & “pebbled waves” that point to a “rock garden” or “zen garden”., in my view. The stones, larger than the pebbles, are surrounded by them. The stones are like islands and the pebbles are being cultivated to look like surrounding water. (Just as people’s faces at a Metro station are like “petals on a wet black bough”.
      .
      cultivating
      the pebbled waves
      and island stones
      .
      Jonathan Alderfer
      .
      https://japanesegarden.org/garden-spaces/sand-stone-garden/

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