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The Renku Sessions: Way of the Wind – Week 21


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

Here we are, completing our newest renku. In the first session that I led on this site, there were so many creative poets making offers that, instead of selecting a single final verse (ageku), I selected a large set of alternative endings. The urge to recognize more contributors than we have verses is still strong but I have resisted it in subsequent sessions and will also resist it this time. But I do want to express my gratitude for everyone’s contributions. For me, the first value of renku is the experience of writing it and you have all made important contributions in that way!

Here are some of the verses that I especially enjoyed from poets already included:



tall tales and laughter
as a light snow begins to fall

                            Betty Shropshire


its serenity lingers
long after the last frost

                            Laurie Greer


kite tails sway
in prussian blue sky

                            Wendy C. Bialek


all the time in the world
for running with butterflies

                            Marietta McGregor


firm friendships forged
by tilling fields together

                            Keith Evetts


the lingering day
varnished by the sun

                            Jonathan Alderfer


pheasant calls rise
on the evening air

                            Andrew Shimield


the mud kicked up
tilling the fields

                            Nancy Brady


clip-clop clip-clop
all the tranquil day

                            Lorin Ford


an anvil ringing
in the tranquil dawn

                            Keith Evetts


is the spring thunder
clapping for us or laughing?

                            Jonathan Alderfer



And here are a dozen offers by poets not included, all of them contenders:



this spring dawn leaves
a lasting impression

                            Debbie Feller


I like the tone of this verse. Dawn gives us the message that there is more ahead and that’s the feeling I would like us to leave with. We have only specified the name of a season in one previous verse (summer, in verse 5) and depicted the beginning of the day in one previous verse (verse 3). These seem like acceptable intervals.



birdsong above
the fresh turned field

                            Ann Smith


I had mentioned that, following the looking down in verse nineteen, we might want to look up in this verse. This offer not only turns our eyes upward. It does so by causing us to follow our ears. And spring plowing is a promise of things to come.



see the butterflies
disappear into the distance

                            Pauline O’Carolan


Very nice. It does seem to suggest that we are static, while the butterflies are in motion. Ideally, I would like to have a sense that everything in this verse is in forward motion.



we walk away chatting
in the spring air

                            Margherita Petriccione


Again, the tone is right. And this verse clearly celebrates the collaborative experience.



rodeo riders release
balloons to the sky

                            Clysta Seney


Vivid and lively.



free to walk
with butterflies again

                            Barbara A. Taylor


Two years ago I would like this very much as our final verse. At present, however, it has the strong possibility to be read in reference to our seclusion resulting from the pandemic. That being the case, it must be said that the subjects of illness and current events, generally, belong to the middle section of a renku (ha) rather than the closing section (kyu).



the clang of the gate
as we set off with our kite

                            Marion Clarke


Interesting how this both puts a period to our efforts (with the sound of a closing gate) and suggests a new activity. Also, interesting that we haven’t yet used the word “our” in the course of our renku. We haven’t had a prominent sound image since verse three (or possibly verse eleven). And the fact that a single kite is to be shared by more than one “flyer” seems like a pleasant nod to the collaborative work we are doing.



tranquil sleep
of baby in the swing

                            Ann Smith


Here’s something a little different. The sense of motion is gentle but prominent. Some renku practitioners consider it bad form to have multiple kigo in a single verse. (tranquil and swing, in this case). This doesn’t amount to a rule, so far as I know. And I do not consider it a disqualification. But perhaps it would be better to avoid it in the final verse.



tea pickers
slowly starting to roll

                            Sandra St-Laurent


This verse probably suffers from my ignorance of how the process of picking tea leaves is carried forward. It certainly works nicely in my imagination.



tilling a field
his family tradition

                            Radhamani Sarma


Again, the image of tilling a field is a good one for this verse. I’m a little concerned about introducing an unspecified person in this final verse. I wouldn’t want to conclude a renku with a question like, “who is ‘he’?”



using an old magazine
to make pinwheels

                                M. R. Defibaugh


There were several offers involving pinwheels. I think this works best as kigo if the pinwheels are in use rather than in production. Still, the sense of renewal and novel use of materials is attractive here.



mustard flower
colours the meadow

                            Liz Ann Winkler


The hokku specifies the color “green” and I passed over several offers that specified a color, even some that specified “green.” But I think this verse could be used here. We probably think of a certain range of colors pertaining to mustard flowers but there are actually a fairly wide range of possibilities.





A hard choice, in the end. Here is what I have selected as our twentieth verse:


the clang of the gate
as we set off with our kite

                            Marion Clarke





Here is what we have:


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


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

                            Kanjini Devi


the scarecrow reluctantly
turns in his badge

                            Maxianne Berger


the pebbled waves
and island stones

                            Jonathan Alderfer


a warm soak
before the pedicure

                            Debbie Scheving


the farrier measures
a colt
for his first shoes

                            Nancy Brady


the clang of the gate
as we set off with our kite

                            Marion Clarke



We will be using “Way of the Wind” as our title since most of the posts have that as a key search phrase. The title for a renku frequently comes from the hokku, though other choices are possible. I would like us to use this week to offer other phrases from this renku as potential titles. There will be a final posting, next Thursday, in which I will talk about those potential titles and announce plans for our next renku session.

Thank you all and please stay tuned!






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This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. john,
    thanks, again, for making my thursdays and all the moments between them.
    this renku group of inspiring writers, along with john’s commentary is so much fun to learn, to grow and to participate in…..

    kudos to marion !!!!!
    marion a perfect ageku for this ‘way of the wind’ renku!
    ( for all the reasons already stated)

    the clang of the gate
    as we set off with our kite

    Marion Clarke

    i love the original title, “way of the wind”

    and i would also
    like to acknowledge the poetry,
    (and title-friendly words)
    from in the following poets:

    pooh sticks
    Linda Weir

    a chime of pots
    Laurie Greer

    low on the hips
    princess k

    sweeter blood
    Dan Campbell


    drawn to him
    Wendy C. Bialek

    discovered chaos
    Keith Evetts

    three-martini lunch

    Betty Shropshire


    in relentless pursuit

    Sally Biggar

    fires of hell
    Michael Henry Lee


    that delicious fillip
    Marietta McGregor
    a sidelong glance

    Marietta McGregor

    taking leave
    Kanjini Devi

    pebbled waves
    Jonathan Alderfer

    a warm soak
    Debbie Scheving

    clang of the gate

    Marion Clarke

    looking forward to the next renku sharing experience.

  2. Congratulations, Marion, on your verse being chosen for the ageku. I found it jaunty and a positive way to end this session.

    Re the title, I’m finding so far that I get attached to the title we start with. Also, as others have noted, Way of the Wind goes well with the kite in the end. To me it has also represented the wind joining us in this journey around the world.

    Thank you to John for his continued guidance. I learn so much from the detailed comments. And from all of the poets’ efforts as well.

  3. Wonderful experience and congratulation Marion for the final verse! I liked your story about the photo prompt too! What a great inspiration! Thank you for sharing your constructives comments! I learned a lot!

    As for title I too like the Way of the wind :)

    Thank you!

  4. well done Marion
    and thanks so much to John for all his work.
    ‘way of the wind’ seems a great title for our piece – I think most people are happy with that.
    So just for fun:
    ‘a chime of pots’
    ‘three martini lunch’

  5. A perfect ageku, Marion.
    I prefer to stay with Way of the Wind.
    Thank you John for leading us on this journey, and to all contributors.
    I look forward to the next renku

    Peace and Love

  6. Thank you so much for making my day, John! I am so honoured that my clanging gate verse has been chosen as the ageku. As the first renku I participated in, I remember Pilgrims’ Stride very well and have just checked to find it was way back in 2014. – tempus fugit and all that!

    Thanks for your excellent leadership, as always. :)


  7. Fantastic final verse, Marion. It ties in so very nicely with Way of the Wind. And thank you John, for this renku ride. Many thanks also to every poet for your participation _()_

  8. Congratulations, Marion. A fine ending indeed. It’s been a great distraction from the pandemic and lockdowns and I hope we all meet soon to set off again.

    1. Thank you, Pauline. It has indeed. I had been busy with a big poetry project over the summer so didn’t get to contribute as much as I like (basically because I kept missing the deadline!) so it is a massive honour to have my verse in the ageku spot. Here’s to the next renku!

  9. ‘Way of the Wind’ is my first preference and ‘As We Set Off ‘ would be my second choice.

    John, re your suggestion of “Pooh Sticks” as a possible alternative, have you considered the homophone issue? In answer to a verbalized ‘Pooh Sticks’, someone could legitimately answer, “Yes, it does.” :-)

  10. The last verse is a perfect ending for our journey, Marion! I love it.

    Many thanks to John for his expert, gentle guidance through this process, and for all of his informative comments along the way. I loved participating as I enjoyed and learned from such creative offerings from all of the members of our renku party! It would be such fun to do it again,,,

    I still rather like Way of the Wind as our title.

  11. I hadn’t checked in on the progress of this renku in a few weeks, so was delighted to be able to read it through to the end today! Lovely final verse, Marion! I love the way it resonates with the verse that preceded it, but also brings us back to the wind of the hokku so gently. Kudos!

  12. Many thanks for John, for enlightening and rewarding journey, each week , a new learning, exercise, approach. Many more from you.
    Marian, conclusive take – admirably drawn.
    Finally kudos to all participants.

  13. Congratulations, Marion, and for your insightful comments on your line up of verses, John.
    Way of the Wind, I think, is a fitting title for this session, even more so with the final verse.
    Read together makes a great verse on its own.

    Well done to everyone.

  14. thank you John for all the hard work that you do. It’s always fun and entertaining to participate.
    Congratulations to all who were included and who participated,
    Peace Love and Renku

  15. Congratulations, Marion, for a fine ending where a new journey beckons!

    Thank you, John for your guidance over the past 20 weeks. I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from all of your comments. And to all poets who joined in the game, thank you so much for the fun!

    I like “Way of the Wind” as a title. The ‘kite’ takes it further!

    Look forward to future outings!

    Cheers, Marietta

    1. I managed to sneak in at the end, Marietta, eh! :)

      Yes, I really wanted to end with a sense of a new beginning, so I’m pleased that this verse worked. It’s based on a photo I took recently for a poetry in schools project, so I had a specific gate in mind.

  16. the clang of the gate
    as we set off with our kite

    Marion Clarke
    Congratulations, Marion! This is a very interesting ageku from one who clearly knows what she’s doing. :-)

    “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – verse 5, ‘Little Gidding’, Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot

    1. Thank you, Lorin, that’s very kind of you to say so. Everything I know about renku I’ve learned here on THF from John and the guest sabaki – including your good self, of course! :)

  17. congratulations dear Marion?
    have closed this Renku very gently and beautifully, Thank you dear John, enjoy the movement.
    Time passes so quickly

  18. Those 20 weeks went by fast! Enjoyed the challenge.

    My suggestions for alternative titles, taken from the renku, are: ‘Sweeter Blood’ or ‘Discovered Chaos’.

  19. Congratulations Marion on rounding off this renku in fine style!

    Having grown accustomed to the title “Way of the Wind” I can’t begin to think of it as anything but that.

    I loved everyone’s different, surprising, stimulating, sometimes impish, often brilliant, offerings each week; John’s commentaries and selections have been most educative; and the whole process has been utterly absorbing. Thursdays have been a high spot of the week.
    Withdrawal symptoms seem likely.

    I’d like to understand better the reasoning behind the stricture to avoid kireji/grammatical breaks, particularly in the three-line verses, if you could spare a note in the final wrap-up, John.

    Thanks to all.

  20. Congratulations Marion, a wonderful last verse—the “clang of the gate” brings to mind a timeline with the “clang” as the present, separating the past from the future.

    John, thanks for guiding us and teaching us about the renku way. I’m looking forward to the next journey.

  21. Wonderful choice for the last verse! The end of a journey is a bit sad, especially if it is done in pleasant company; I had a lot of fun and I thank you for the enrichments that have come to me and for the attention to my writings.

    1. Thank you, Margherita. I agree about the ending of a journey. I really missed my first renku when it was over, but hopefully we will have another to look forward to soon.

  22. Marion, that is a lovely verse and a great closer (and opener, too).
    Two possible titles: The Long Day Opens or The Sidelong Glance.
    I leave them up to interpretation.

  23. Congrats Marion on the perfect ageku!. Congrats to all poets, whether you had a verse selected or not – I enjoyed reading all of the offered verses each week. And thanks to John for the opportunity to practice renku with such an accomplished sabaki and talented group of poets.

    As far as the title is concerned, may I suggest ‘The Rookie’, as the color green suggests a novice, or a youth “sowing his oats”, and the renku both opens and closes in spring.

  24. Congratulations Marion. With your verse I hear not only the clang but also feel the rails of cow rails under my feet. It’s an energizing verse. John, thank you again for escorting us through this delicious fillip and appreciation for all your comments and mention of mine.

  25. Wonderful final verse! Congratulations, Marion. I love the sound of the iron gate closing, and the visual of flying a kite.

    Alternative title: Delicious Fillip

  26. Congratulations Marion! A perfect end/non-end to this renku.
    And John–what can I say? Thanks for all your words of wisdom, advice, support, and all else.
    And thanks to all contributors for your energy, wit, and so much more. I can’t begin to say how much being part of this has meant to me.

    1. Thank you, Laurie. I’m pleased you think so.

      I totally agree regarding John’s wisdom. I didn’t even know what a renku was until I started doing THF ones a few years back! :)

  27. Congratulations Marion. Lovely last verse. Congratulations to all included and thankyou John for your guidance throughout.

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