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The Renku Sessions: Way of the Wind – Week 7

Wayrenku_300

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

This might be a good time to provide relative newcomers (and remind the more experienced) about some things that must be considered when composing renku verses.

One reminder would deal with the nature of kigo. These seasonal references are not always intuitive. Some things that might seem natural aspects of a season do not appear on the list of kigo we are using for this renku. Sunbathing, tanning and sunscreen, for instance, are intuitively summer topics but they are not listed. So, we have to pass on otherwise tempting offers:

how their torrid affair
started with sunscreen

                        Christopher Patchel

A second, and very important consideration, when composing renku verses, is the matter of avoiding any kind of linking to what has already been presented. Generally, this is what I mean when I say we should be linking to the immediately previous verse and in no obvious way to other previous verses. But there is another layer of concern about this in regard to any possible linking to the hokku (first verse) and the verse occurring right before the verse to which we are currently linking (e.g. verse 4 when we are linking to verse 5). In these instances, we need to be especially careful.

So, although “fragrant breeze” is a perfectly acceptable kigo, it can be a problem when the hokku (and possibly the title) features “way of the wind.” As a result, we have to pass on some really lovely offers.

the way she sways
in the fragrant breeze

                        Keith Evetts

a fragrant breeze
perfumes their yearning

                        Carol J Judkins

And when the verse before the verse to which we are currently linking features an article of clothing (“cap”) we cannot use the otherwise available late summer kigo of “thin clothing.”

her thin dresses
hanging out in his mind

                        Debbie Feller

That verse also suggests music, so we have to avoid, for now, any images of dancing:

the smouldering heat
in your midnight tango

                        Carole Harrison

Or song:

their sweet nothings
silenced by cicada song

                        Wendy C. Bialek

 

We can become too extreme in finding these “back links.” In the course of my renku practice. I have come to feel that all entities are connected, either directly or through common connection to some third entity. Taken to an extreme, this would soon prevent any possibility of avoiding a “back link.” So, a reasonable level of alertness to this issue must be employed.

Any sense of linkage to prior verses other than the hokku or the “one before the last” verse can be approached with more tolerance. Because, for instance, the second verse implies but does not specify the presence of a creek or river, I might or might not give some thought about whether it is too soon to select a verse that features or implies other bodies of water:

young lovers swimming out
to the third sandbank

                        Lorin Ford

they lie entwined
behind the waterfall

                        Pauline O’Carolan

talked into a swim
down to our last layers

                        Peter Newton

swimming with the girl
who moves like Marilyn

                        Lorin Ford

Similarly, since the second verse invokes but does not directly depict a plum tree, I might wonder if it is too soon for:

I ask the phoenix tree
am I too old to love

                        Keith Evetts

Having expressed concerns about all of the above offers, I want to make the point that I had each of them on my short list and was tempted by all of them.

One way of thinking of a renku is that it is a sampler of the range and variety of things that make up our world, the heavens, and our outer and inner lives as human beings. In that sense, it cannot be comprehensive and any one image can represent many aspects of the whole.

 

 

Here is what I have selected as our sixth verse:

 

mosquitoes know that my wife
has sweeter blood

                        Dan Campbell

 

It’s actually fairly rare that a renku reaches the sixth verse before including any non-human creature. We now have included the topic of “insect” and will probably not want another until near the end of this renku, if at all. At some later point, we may want a bird, fish, reptile or mammal but not in the next couple of verses.

As a love verse, this one deals with an established relationship. It therefore precludes us from courtship and “love at first sight” in the following love verse. The character of the love in this verse is open to interpretation. Perhaps it implies that the poet has a wife who is sweet in other ways, too. Perhaps it implies a selfishness – take her, not me, mosquitoes.

 

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

 

 

We are now completing our first pair of love verses. The love verses in a renku are about love between adult human beings. So, love of pets, ice cream, etc. will not satisfy the requirements.

The requirements for verse seven will be as follows:

  • A three-line verse of seventeen syllables or less
  • With no seasonal image (no kigo)
  • With a focus on love between adult human beings in an established relationship
  • Without a grammatical break
  • Linking in some way to verse six (and in no obvious way to previous verses)

 

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. We should also check it when writing non-seasonal verses in order to be sure we have not used a kigo without intending to.

 

I will be reviewing your offers until midnight on Monday, June 14 (New York time). On Thursday, June 17 there will be a new post in which I will announce my selection of the seventh verse, comment on some of the other offers, and issue instructions for writing verse eight offers.

 

Thank you, 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://www.thehaikufoundation.org/code-of-conduct/ 

 

This Post Has 91 Comments

  1. Congrats Dan! My blood also ‘sings’ to the mosquitoes.
    .
    .
    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    – Dan Campbell
    .
    .
    that itch
    not even marilyn
    can scratch
    .
    after seven years
    enough to make rome
    howl
    .
    to be perfectly
    frank
    dobedobedo
    .
    .

  2. Thank you John for the commentaries and selection and congrats Dan, you are one of my favorites!
    *
    look.how
    their shadows hold each
    other up
    *
    her dancing is
    still beautiful
    in slow motion

  3. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    ——Dan Campbell

    time collects
    in the quiet rooms
    you left behind

    a new wrinkle
    appears
    on your life line

  4. distant romance
    just surviving
    behind our screens

    she sends me on
    a late-night
    pickle run

    life sucks
    except for when
    I’m with her

    vow renewal
    smooshed against
    their faces

    we savor
    even the stale pieces
    of wedding cake

      1. Final edit to also avoid the long day opening on another verse lol

        she sends me on
        an impromptu
        pickle run

  5. *
    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    *
    truer to type
    with every unresisted
    temptation
    *
    loving every moment
    of the squabbles
    and make-ups
    *

  6. our bond sustains
    in sixty with sagging steps
    into gravel path
    *********young couple’s debate
    ended in sharing
    their juice lemonade
    *****
    adjusting button
    his ladylove reminds
    about a movie
    **

    in theater
    young couple return
    their lovely days
    *******
    wedding coat in proud
    corner she demonstrates
    their bond
    *********
    their time passes
    with salted groundnuts
    aged couple in park

  7. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    **
    after nine months
    we are exiting
    the twins are born

    Nani Mariani

  8. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    **
    like conjoined twins
    exhausted
    in bed

    Nani Mariani

  9. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    renewing vows
    after all these years
    committed to oneness

  10. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    intoxicated by
    thick smoke rising
    from your fumarole heart

    the chiaroscuro
    of our cobbled life
    ripens with age

    hungry
    for the sleek of your
    tattooed skin

  11. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood Dan Campbell
    **
    our his & hers
    purple bath sheets
    now soft pink

  12. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    hubby doesn’t blink
    when I ask for a lick
    of his gelati

  13. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    – Dan Campbell
    .
    he remembers
    the straw they shared
    but not her first name

    6/13/2021 by wendy © bialek

  14. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    *
    the old couple
    still pause a while
    at the kissing gate

  15. an aperitif
    reading each one
    his newspaper

    ***
    a wink
    and she divides in half
    her favorite patty

    ***
    how much tenderness
    finally passing
    to separate rooms

    ***
    the tender smile
    of mutual deafness
    at the silver wedding

  16. *
    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    *
    all they’ve learned
    over the years
    of their A-plus marriage
    *
    their straight-A marriage
    gives their children
    a wealth of lessons
    *

  17. mosquitos know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    you still ‘get’
    the real me
    between my words

    .
    you still understand
    what I’m really saying
    between words
    .
    who else still forgets
    the punchline
    of every joke?
    .
    Do we still need
    to say “I love you”
    every day?
    .
    still saying
    “I love you”
    every day

  18. Verse 4:

    rolling around naked
    between
    sheets smelling of sunshine

    Verse 5:

    the feud ends
    with Romeo and Juliet
    in the tomb together

  19. What a journey!
    Thank you John for the patient and caring way you jolly us along on this renku journey.

  20. .
    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    they say
    bananas played a part
    in her oral skills
    .

  21. on a picture
    from the holiday album
    the imprint of a kiss

    after a long absence
    they compliment
    each other

  22. takes more
    than a swat team to suck
    the life out of our marriage

    6/12/2021 by wendy © bialek

    1. i think this is a better version:

      takes more
      than a swat team
      to draw us apart

      6/12/2021 by wendy © bialek

  23. our walks
    on the waterfront
    always uphill
    *****************
    after fifty years
    you are still
    my boyfriend
    *****************
    as the sun sets
    I give you my arm
    to walk

  24. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    – Dan Campbell

    no-fault divorce
    papers signed
    with a flourish
    – Betty Shropshire

  25. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    a morning serve
    of honeyed words
    when he brings her tea

    .

    PS. Dan, an enjoyable verse to work with. Thanks! And, like your wife, I’m the mosquito magnet!

  26. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    the short break plan
    for our fortieth leaves out
    Transylvania

    1. Or, to avoid another verse beginning with ‘the’:

      a short break plan
      for our fortieth leaves out
      Transylvania

  27. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    our airbnb hideaway
    puts Dracula’s castle
    to shame

  28. Verse 1:

    social distancing
    not possible
    when the fever’s upon us

    Verse 2:

    I feed her
    strawberries and cream
    after the loving

    Verse 3:

    her mouth tastes
    of honey
    and desire

    1. If I can substitue Verse 3 (mouth and hips – both body parts!)

      Verse 3:

      my love tastes
      of honey
      and desire

      1. Good catch. Any potential link to the verse before the verse to which we’re currently linking is a big issue. I like your alternate offer!

  29. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    just found note
    dishwasher loaded
    knife blades up

    6/11/2021 by wendy © bialek

    (yes, i am aware, that most dishwashers are found in kitchens, a kitchens are also where most kitchen islands are……and that i should avoid this reference to laurie’s verse:

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

    Laurie Greer

    and my verse could be disqualified….because of the above repetition…..
    but since the reference is in a note and the post it note was found (not in real time, but, later…..as it were, in the bedroom on the bottom of my slippers) i posted it here.

    john….i would be interested to hear if you consider this an exception????
    similar to the reasoning about pears being”gifted” by michelle and “painted” flowers are not flowers?????

    1. correction, should read:
      (yes, i am aware, that most dishwashers are found in kitchens, and kitchens are also where most kitchen islands are

      and not a

    2. A couple of points to be made here:
      .
      “Disqualification” only relates to links back to the hokku or to the verse before the verse to which we are currently linking. Potential links to other previous verses do not result (in my practice) to automatic disqualifications. But, at the same time, if I have good offers that do not raise this question of back-linking, I’m likely to go with one of those.
      .
      The first thing that concerned me about your “just found note” verse was the multiple grammatical breaks.

      1. thanks, again john for your further clarification. i see it more clearly now!

        and john, i am glad that you have commented on “my multiple grammatical breaks”….
        this area confuses me…..i am unclear and trying to test out what is proper protocol concerning “quoted” data in renku verse…..
        i remember andrew’s picasso verse had quotes…..

        ‘after Picasso
        only God’
        said Dora Maar

        .
        john,
        could you possibly shed some light for me on this matter?

        1. here is the reworked version:

          just found note reads
          ‘dishwasher loaded w/
          knife blades pointing up’

          6/12/2021 by wendy © bialek

          however…i wish to withdraw this submission.

        2. Here’s the light but I don’t think it’s terribly enlightening. My ideal would be a renku in which there is no break in any verse other than the hokku. But I’m a realist and sometimes I will take what seems to be the best of what is offered, even if it has an “issue.”
          .
          I think we are all so used to writing haiku – complete short poems in which there is a “gap” that creates the spark and a two-part structure. In renku, the hokku operates in this way. But in the next verses, the spark needs to take place in the gap between verses rather than within the verses themselves. Since our habit is to write complete short poems and since the cut/gap is an important source of that sense of completeness, we habitually write these gaps into our renku verses and really have to concentrate in order to focus on the interaction with the previous verse as the source of our “sparks.”

          1. thank you for your frankness and thank you so much for spinning me ’round to the right direction, john.
            i have lost my way….and trying to grow new sea legs. i did, indeed, forget about that ‘gap’!

  30. congrats dan!
    how fun this party is getting with your
    winning “multi-meaning” verse!

    thanks, john….for taking the time to remind me to double check
    all possible things written and unwritten.

  31. the queen
    grief-stricken
    but duty-bound

    re: ‘sunscreen’ I thought it might be closely related enough to ‘hot’ and ‘heat at zenith’

    1. I loved your verse. But I had many other good verses that very clearly featured kigo from the list we’re using.

  32. Thanks for all the explanations, John, and congrats, Dan, for a lovely verse — and for managing to through all the constraints — it feels tighter and tighter, and I admire those of you who are toughing it out. The rules are so difficult to follow that I feel defeated. I’ll see if I can come up with something, though — if only to avoid being a wallflower …

    1. Yes, it does get more challenging as we go on. But there are multiple ways in which to succeed. One, of course, is producing a verse that navigates the requirements. But another is producing work that may not be used here but will prove valuable for later use, in another setting. I generally come away from a renku session with several pages of haiku or material that will become haiku.

  33. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    curled together
    under the duvet
    we fall asleep

    she says
    she meant to miss me
    with the jade geisha

  34. Wonderful lines, Dan! And thank you, John, for teaching us as we go along here!

    feeding each other
    the last
    piece of cake

  35. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    – Dan Campbell

    spot on as
    the “IT couple” among
    the hoity-toity
    – Betty Shropshire

  36. on exposed skin
    another bite
    seals our passion
    *
    that welcome sting
    when she shows me
    her peed-on stick
    *
    how do I love her…
    let me count
    the hickeys

  37. Good one ! Following Dan Campbell’s

    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    ***

    our honeymoon
    spent synchronizing
    our snores

    ***

    a bottle of mead
    reflecting
    under the stars

    ***

    unzipping
    the tent for her
    late night’s pee

    ***

  38. lip smacking
    goodness down the
    length of her spine
    **************************
    illegal in all
    fifty states but
    Kentucky
    ****************
    her DNA
    all over his
    bong

    1. her DNA
      all over his
      bong

      🙂 🙂 🙂 Great verse that gives me a great laugh, Michael.

      (It’s not too hard to guess who the flower children were around here, is it? )

  39. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    my husband Igor’s
    fluorescent fangs
    on the bedpost

    1. .
      word change (in L3) from ‘on’ to ‘adorn’
      .
      my husband Igor’s
      fluorescent fangs
      adorn the bedpost

  40. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    .
    Dan Campbell
    .
    the spice
    of our kissing after
    a shot of chai

  41. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    – Dan Campbell

    these tabloid photos
    like salt on
    an old wound
    – Betty Shropshire

  42. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell

    our children laugh
    as we kiss
    in the kitchen

    still smiling
    at some
    of my jokes

    the marriage lines
    harder to remember
    with repetition

    1. Ah – now recalling that V3 is situated in the kitchen, I must amend my first one above to read:

      our children laugh
      as we kiss
      on the patio

  43. mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood
    – Dan Campbell

    reading in
    the tabloids one
    too many affairs
    – Betty Shropshire

      1. As always Dan a vivid image.
        Off topic of for a moment:
        Have you read the Cherita form of verse/storytelling?
        I discovered this in the forum. Well worth a read.

  44. Thank you John, for a valuable explanation of the thoughts behind the selection – and yet again the selection is stimulating. Congratulations to Dan Campbell. Before thinking about verse 7: on the matter of a kigo, do we assume that as we have had the moon and a mosquito in this section of the renku, they are ruled out for v 7?

  45. Congratulations, Dan–love it! Thanks for the inspired choice John, and for all the reminders.
    *
    mosquitoes know that my wife
    has sweeter blood

    Dan Campbell
    *
    our dry wit
    keeping us slap happy
    since the moment we met
    *

  46. Congratulations, Dan Campbell!

    despite my flaws
    he loves me
    as i am
    .
    the banter between us
    without playing
    gotcha games

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