The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 8

by John Stevenson on April 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.

Twenty-four poets offered eighty-three love verses! There were so many creative approaches to the challenge of our first love verse that I can’t do them all justice here. As a small sample, I’ll mention that I was taken by Jennifer Sutherland’s use of an emoticon. Let’s try that again later. Also, Jennifer’s idea of “invisible ink” was promising and her “Mr. Darcy / Mr. Bean” got a literal laugh out loud from me. I also enjoyed Christopher Patchel’s speed dating verses. Other temptations included verses by Christopher Herold and Aalix Roake (bride and bride / groom and groom). I think that a version of Karen Cesar’s “velvet couch” would have been a contender had she not been the author of the leap-over verse.

Our eighth verse comes from Norman Darlington. It registers unambiguously as a love verse and, dealing with youth, it renders us great assistance in making the next love verse progressive in time.

Here is the verse you must link to:

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

The next verse, the ninth, is our second love verse of the renku. Everything I said about love verses in my last post continues to apply. In addition, this verse should represent a later phase of a love relationship–easily done here since verse eight deals with a strong initial attraction among young people. While your verse will reflect a later phase of love, you are not creating a narrative and will need to take care to also shift with your images. Here are the formal requirements for verse nine:

  • Non-seasonal (avoids any topics assigned to a specific season in our list of season words)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the eighth verse, and only the eighth verse–but not as the direct continuation of a “story”
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting relating to love between adult people

Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, April 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, May 1 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 shrines–
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

a dragonfly hovers
over the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

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Survey says . . . the THF Education Wall

by Jim Kacian on April 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: Education

The Education Wall is now available online. Ellen Olinger, haiku poet and much honored professional teacher, has designed a platform in grade bundles 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, high school and college, adult. Next aspect is outreach to teachers. We are seeking a Chair for the Education Committee.

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. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for helping us make The Haiku Foundation a better resource.

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Book of the Week: Rain Falling Quietly

by Jim Kacian on April 21, 2014

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rielly_rainfallingquietlycover

Edward Rielly wrote this meditative book (Wind Chimes Minibook, 1985) partly in thrall to Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi, which he quotes and to which his poems respond.

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.





rain falling quietly— I let the maples be my overcoat
thinking about Abutsu while my mother picks flowers for father’s grave
winter comes, white flowers blooming on my window
shading my eyes while the stalks of oats ripen each other
turning a corner i come upon a poet writing under a tree
in the middle of the stream a great black bass hangs in the air, while I write my haiku

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A Sad Update for Our Everest Poem

by Jim Kacian on April 18, 2014

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You’ll recall that Alan Bridges reported that his haiku was one of many artifacts accompanying an ascent of Mt. Everest. He sends this update which speaks of a horrific turn of events:

Terrible disaster on Everest. From base camp, we heard the roar of the avalanche just before 6am. It swept accross the top of the icefall, just below camp 1. In one of the worst mountaineering disasters ever, 13 Sherpas are confirmed dead, including 3 from our team. Another 2 are critical, now being evacuated from base camp hospital. One of the injured Sherpas was long lined down to the hospital. Our climbing team stretchered the other injured Sherpa from the heli pad to the hospital. A horrible thing; we are devastated. One available photo shows our guide Dean Staples managing the heli pad operations.

Sorry to have to report this terrible news.

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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 7

by John Stevenson on April 17, 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.

Twenty-four poets offered us fifty-seven verses this time. It was fun to see a number of poets working with the image of a helicopter. Other verses that seemed tempting included offers by Marion Clarke (castle gates), Stella Pierides (chestnut on the stove), and Christopher Herold (patio heater). The final choice came down to a decision between the verse I have chosen and Scott Mason’s the straw cowlick. Either would serve effectively in this position, though I feel that the one I’ve chosen has the edge.

Our seventh verse comes from Alice Frampton. The only thing that gave me some second thoughts about it was its brevity. I personally enjoy brevity but not all renku practitioners agree on this point. One thing that is sometimes criticized is a tendency to make a natural two line verse into three unnatural lines (or a three line verse into two) in order to “fit” a slot. My feeling is that each of these three short lines is fully justified.

The autumn season reference is “fog.” While there can be many readings of such a verse, I am reading a sense of menace into it based upon the current use of drones in warfare. Such a tone has only now become permissible in the renku and its appearance here confirms that “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Here is the verse you must link to:

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

The next verse, the eighth, is our first love verse of the renku. There are two points I would like to make about love verses. Firstly, these are verses about love between adult human beings. They are not concerned with love of country, ice cream, or a favorite pet. They can be, though they don’t have to be, erotic in nature. Secondly, as is the case with groups of seasonal verses, it is important to maintain a sense of forward movement in time. So a first love verse that deals with the death of a lover is going to be hard on the person writing the second love verse (though nothing is impossible). Here are the formal requirements for verse eight:

  • Non-seasonal (avoids any topics assigned to a specific season in our list of season words)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the seventh verse, and only the seventh verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting relating to love between adult people

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, April 22, 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, April 24 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 shrines–
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

a dragonfly hovers
over the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

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