Welcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.
I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.
Sixteen poets provided a total of sixty-nine verse fourteen offers. This is down slightly from previous levels of participation. If this is due in part to my post about how many distractions I had to face this week, I thank you for your forbearance and assure you that I am now ready to resume at full speed.
Here is an example of why a good verse is not chosen. I was very taken with Christopher Patchel’s prize turnips / at the county fair. I like the way is sounds, both in its own right and in context, and I like the sense of something not intrinsically beautiful being prized. But “turnip” is listed as a winter season reference in our season word list. It’s always good to check your verses against this list because the assignment of an image to a season is not always intuitive. Other good verses were eliminated because they poached upon topics that have set places in the renku – blossoms or love. If I have not announced that we are writing a blossom verse or a love verse, these topics must be saved for their assigned verse placements.
Our fourteenth verse comes from Aalix Roake. The combination of aroma and anticipated taste is a welcome addition to our renku. I have taken the liberty of deleting the word “hot” from the verse. We don’t need it since “sizzles” tells us that the pan is hot. Also, I would prefer not to link so obviously to “cool” in the preceding verse.
Here is the verse you must link to:
sizzles in the pan
The next verse, the fifteenth, is a non-seasonal verse. We could perhaps use an overtly urban image at this point. Here are the formal requirements for verse fourteen:
- Non-seasonal image (not containing any of the words or phrases from our season word list)
- Written in three lines, without a cut
- Linking with the fourteenth verse, and only the fourteenth verse
- Shifting widely to a new topic and setting
Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next link on Thursday, June 12 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.
What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session
There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.
It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.
Pilgrims’ Stride to Date
to the mountain pass–
a sun-warmed stone bridge
of seed trays
in the glasshouse
polished every monday
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon
by the swaying reeds
of a drone
thick with teenage pheromones
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”
thinking of a red wig
of silent stories
he makes a wish
to become real
each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
sizzles in the pan