The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 15

renkuchainWelcome 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.

Twenty-one poets have produced sixty-two potential verse fifteen entries. Many really resonant images are contained in verses offered by both regular contributors and some newcomers. An example of the latter would be whispering / so the neighbors / can’t hear by Meli Kyriakos. I also lingered over cries of joy and pain / and the smell of piss rising / from the subway mouth by mark harris, sweeping up / discarded tickets / from the station floor by Stella Pierides, with a wary eye / the zoo-keeper / sweeps the concrete pens by Sue Richards, and this portion / brought to you / by Monsanto (Christopher Patchel). I was intrigued by Jennifer Sutherland’s three ways / to sharpen / a kitchen knife but, with silverware mentioned in verse four, felt I must pass on it. Same goes for Scott Mason’s the subway grate / claiming another / stiletto – a great verse but perhaps not for a renku in which the hokku contains the phrase “pilgrims’ stride.” (Yes, I am aware that a stiletto is also a knife.)

While all of the above were tempting, the final choice was between two. One appears below and the other was leaving the tattoo parlour / with a tiger / on his back by Jennifer Sutherland. Her verse really offers the urban snarl that I was looking for.

Our fifteenth verse comes from Christopher Patchel. The situation depicted is familiar to almost anyone who has an e-mail account and pinning it to a fish in a frying pan is great fun!

Here is the verse you must link to:

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

The next verse, the sixteenth, is also non-seasonal. (In case it is helpful to know it, the seventeenth will be a spring blossom verse.) Since the verse fifteen selection I have made is not overtly an urban image, we could still perhaps use a strong urban image at this point. Here are the formal requirements for verse sixteen:

  • Non-seasonal image (not containing any of the words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the fifteenth verse, and only the fifteenth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, June 17, 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 19 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

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

Comments

  1. Sue Richards says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    – Christopher Patchel

    shrine after shrine
    to the gods of desire

  2. Karen Cesar says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

    we agree to meet
    in the City of Light

  3. joel irusta says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    broken the parents leave
    the hospital without the baby

  4. joel irusta says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    the infant boy born with
    no parents to take him home

  5. joel irusta says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    the infant boy born with
    no parents to call him home

  6. Scott Mason says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

    from the alleyway’s darkness
    pale fingers unfurl

  7. Scott Mason says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

    from the Bowery’s darkness
    pale fingers unfurl

  8. Scott Mason says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

    from the Bowery’s darkness
    fingers unfurl

  9. Karen Cesar says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

    the Central Park kibitzer
    suggests a better move

  10. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help
    –Christopher Patchel

    in our first round of poker
    he lays down a royal flush

  11. says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help
    –Christopher Patchel

    the heart drawn to Dublin
    on Bloomsday

    Lorin Ford

  12. says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help
    –Christopher Patchel

    all the world is Dublin
    on Bloomsday

    – Lorin Ford

  13. Patrick Sweeney says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

    -Christopher Patchel

    performing a half-forgotten ceremony
    the ancestors draw near

    -Patrick Sweeney

  14. John Stevenson says

    Hello, everyone. Catching up once again. The play I have been performing had its final performance last night.

    I have incorporated Christopher’s first suggestion (see above). The verse to which you must now link reads:

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my help

  15. Tal Goldman says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    – Christopher Patchel

    perhaps said prince can find
    the missing Nigerian girls

    – Tal Goldman

  16. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    cocktails at 5
    in a bar in Queens?

  17. Christopher Patchel says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting me

    (Another option compliments of Paul MacNeil)

  18. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    smoke billows
    from the factory rooftops

  19. Christopher Patchel says

    I didn’t notice the repeated ‘reply’ until Alice mentioned it, but my revised verse was actually ‘soliciting my help’ so that’s one option. Another option would be to change Paul’s ‘reply’ to: respond, repeat, say, answer, ?

  20. John Stevenson says

    Just catching up a bit. We performed last night and then I picked up my son at the station to welcome him home after nearly six years in Scotland. When we got home, I discovered that the heavy rains had caused some minor flooding in one of the bedrooms. Then I was sick all night. Should be an interesting final performance tonight!

    Anyway, it seems clear that several of you are catching on to the need to avoid repetitions – comments from batsword and Karen Cesar making that plain. Also, Alice Frampton has made a good catch. This kind of thing is easily fixed but best to fix it now before we pile more verses on top of it. I could do this myself but Christopher Patchel is prolific and inventive, so I’ll ask him for an alternative. In his verse:

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    we need a word other than “reply.” Christopher, what would you suggest?

  21. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    calling his number
    but who will answer?

  22. says

    expect we can’t have food again, so here’s yet another offer:

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    between the marble pillars
    panoramic ocean views

  23. Alice Frampton says

    John,
    I have a bit of a problem with the word “reply” as it appears in the 9th verse. It’s not a common word like the articles and prepositions, so . . .
    Thanks!
    A

  24. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    short of time
    she tries speed dating

  25. Jennifer Sutherland says

    woopsi ! Sorry !

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    finally a handsome fireman
    responds to the false alarm

  26. Jennifer Sutherland says

    freshly-caught fish
    sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

    finally a handsome fireman
    responds to the false alarm

  27. Karen Cesar says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    rush hour cabbies
    swap one finger salutes

  28. joel irusta says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    the shadowy figure crawls
    through the car window

  29. dafne says

    John,

    Re: Christopher’s verse invokes, for me at least, the kind of ubiquitous on-line scam that is sometimes referred to as “fishing.”

    The word you wanted is “phishing” (which does the same thing — i.e., to gather personal information)

  30. joel irusta says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    love stricken soul
    tragically buys airline ticket

  31. Terri French says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    –Christopher Patchel

    a rhinestone tiara
    in a tissue lined box

    or

    a rhinestone tiara
    gathers dust on the bureau

  32. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    through the red-light district
    hustlers, junkies , pimps and hoes

  33. Jennifer Sutherland says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    through the red-light district
    hustlers,druggies, pimps and hoes

  34. Dru Philippou says

    a wealthy prince
    exiled in Nigeria
    soliciting my reply

    a taxi cruises
    around for a fare

    late night taxi
    cruises around for a fare

    (avoiding the repetition of “a”)

  35. John Stevenson says

    Hi Dru,

    I could repeat what I say every time about this. But I’ll presume you and other participating poets remember all that.

    For me, I think of how the gesture that says “sucker” may consist of putting a finger, representing a fish hook, into one’s cheek and pulling on it. Christopher’s verse invokes, for me at least, the kind of ubiquitous on-line scam that is sometimes referred to as “fishing.”

    John

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