The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 22

by John Stevenson on July 31, 2014

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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.

Our totals this time are twenty poets and fifty-six verse offerings. As I suspected, my access to the internet was intermittent at best while I was in Maine last week. The isolation was certainly helpful in our renku writing there, if not my following activity here. We completed two renku in two days and still had time for kayaking, some light hiking, and more good food than I normally see in a month.

My tentative plan, once we have completed our Kasen renku, is to write one more post as an overview contrasting the experience of creating a renku in this setting with live sessions. I’m guessing that this will produce some discussion and then, I hope, the sessions will resume with a new renku and a new guide.

Loved Scott Mason’s discretely disposed of party favors. Christopher Patchel’s knocked out / in the first round is a good idea for a topic we haven’t touched upon and I hope others will offer us a verse with a sports image sometime within the next few verses.

I made a choice between two “family” verses this time; from carol harrison and batsword. Either would work very well in this position. I suppose my reasons for choosing between them, to the degree that they amount to anything beyond instinct, have to do with saving pronouns for later use and a choice between the qualities of “lust” and “grudge,” either of which add something tangible. Pronouns and lust remain available for us in the next set of love verses.

Our twenty-second verse comes from batsword. I am imagining a couple of scenarios suggested by this verse, in conjunction with its predecessor. One deals with feuds between families/clans. The other involves internal strife that may divide a single family for year after year and be carried forward through generations beyond that of the originally offended parties. Such resentments can come to permeate the foods served at the family dinner table.

Here is the verse you must link to:

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century

    –batsword

The next verse, the twenty-third, is the first of two consecutive winter verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-three:

  • Winter seasonal image (should include a winter word or phrase from our season word list)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-second verse, and only the twenty-second 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, August 5, 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, August 7 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

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century

    –batsword

{ 21 comments }

Per Diem for August 2014: War and Peace

by Jim Kacian on August 1, 2014

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In 2002, Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges published War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. He was excoriated for his callous approach to the subject. But when the dust cleared, we were left to ask ourselves if he wasn’t, in fact, right. At the same time, the bulk of humanity live the majority of their days in peace (even if the threat of war always looms). We are constantly between the pincers of these concepts, as guest editor Johnny Baranski notes:

War and Peace — Why the theme of war/peace for this month’s Per Diem poems? Because the issue is forever with us. In my brief 66 years on this planet alone a day hasn’t gone by without some kind of war or conflict going on somewhere in the world. From the Cold war of the Twentieth Century to the Asymmetrical War on Terror of the Twenty-First the same scenes of death and destruction play themselves out. Beyond the battlefield there’s playground and internet bullying, domestic violence, eco war, cyber war. And then there’s the ever-present threat of nuclear weapons. Nobody likes violence and war but it’s an addiction hard to overcome. These poets have something important to say about war and peace. We all best listen to them.

Haiku has occasionally been accused of being incapable of tackling the big issues. Here is yet more proof that belies that claim.

{ 3 comments }

Book of the Week: sunlit jar

by Jim Kacian on July 28, 2014

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sterba_sunlitjarcover

Carmen Sterba was honored by having her work published in the distinguished Radish series of books by Wim Lofvers. This tiny volume, from 2002, features haiku from 4 season and especially flowers, birds and people.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.





winter doldrums addiing lavender sachets to each drawer
cold wind his name no longer in the inbox
cherry blossoms a child asks for a cloud of cotton candy
childhood home the pussy willow just as it was
sunlit jar the beekeeper's gift on the doorstep
rainy day rummaging through grandma's button drawer

{ 5 comments }

The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 21

by John Stevenson on July 24, 2014

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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.

We had fifty-nine offers, from eighteen poets during the past week. My commentary will be brief this time because I will be traveling during the period normally set aside for composing and setting my text.

As you read this, I will be engaged in a live renku writing experience. This is an annual event, at Paul MacNeil’s camp on Onawa Lake in Maine. Paul and I will be collaborating with Yu Chang, Tom Clausen, and Hilary Tann. These sessions have taken place every year since 1999. Onawa is in mountainous country, far from any urban centers. Web access is inconsistent and I am not certain how well I will be able to monitor activity on this site while I am there. If you don’t hear from me until next Monday, this will be the reason.

Poets who have already contributed to our renku continue to offer many really inspiring links. I’ll just mention that Alice Frampton’s eight current offers contained four or five that I would have given strong consideration.

Among potential new contributors, I found myself choosing between two verses offered this time by Betty Shropshire. In addition to the pleasures of creative collaboration, the wide ranging images that are offered sometimes provide surprising new information. An example, for me, was the mention of “Chladni figures.” For anyone who was also unaware of this phenomenon, it is well worth looking into. I am passing on this verse in favor of another because I have a sense that this acoustical image may relate too closely to the skylark song in the leap-over verse.

Our twenty-first verse comes from Betty Shropshire. This is the first three line offer we have included that is written in a 5-7-5 format. I feel that this formal quality complements the image of “the old ways” contained in the verse itself, which in turn links nicely with the discipline of yoga. I acknowledge that there are potential concerns: an earlier cooking image (seven verses ago), earlier color name (eleven verses ago, or more recent if one counts “milky”). But there is much in this verse that adds nuance and savor to our renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

The next verse, the twenty-second, is the last in this series of three non-seasonal verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-two:

  • Non-seasonal image (should not contain words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-first verse, and only the twenty-first 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, July 29, 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, July 31 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

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

{ 62 comments }

Survey says . . . THF Planned Projects

by Jim Kacian on July 23, 2014

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Every September the Board of Directors and Associates of The Haiku Foundation are sent a survey. Their responses help to guide our growth and direction. We’d like to broaden our input, and so we’ll be asking you to respond to a series of questions, one per week, over the next half-year. Your replies will be weighed in our assessment of our performance.

Today’s question: The Haiku Foundation World of Haiku

In addition to the many projects currently underway with the Foundation, we have many others in the planning stages, including

    U-21 Website/Anthology: a site and annual book just for/designed by poets under 21 years of age; in collaboration with Millikin University
    Assignment of Copyright: a way to guarantee that your poems are made available for future use in anthologies and haiku histories
    Grantwriter Hire: our single greatest need is to expand our resource pool, and the hiring of a professional to guide us is essential to meeting it
    Video Archive Additions: we would like to do more with this resource than our current manpower and expertise allow
    National Haiku Poetry Day Organization: do we expand this project, which is costly in terms of man-hours, or streamline it, perhaps bringing it online for greater outreach but with less personal contact?
    Introductory Video: a welcome to haiku for newcomers to THF, its website and its programs

We welcome your input as to what seems most important to you, as well as which you would be willing to lend your energies and resources toward.

Please assess how well The Haiku Foundation is delivering on this topic. Indicate your assessment of our performance to date by choosing one of the options:

Excellent

Good

Fair

Poor

Abandon

Please feel free to add additional comments. This is the last installment in our survey for 2014. Thank you for your thoughtful responses, which will help us make the Foundation a better resource for all of us.

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