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.
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:
thick with teenage pheromones
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
to the mountain shrines–
a sun-warmed stone bridge
of seed trays
in the glasshouse
polished every monday
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon
a dragonfly hovers
over the swaying reeds
of a drone
thick with teenage pheromones