I (Kala Ramesh) will be your sabaki for this renku. Thanks to Jim Kacian and John Stevenson for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learned the art of renku from Norman Darlington, Moira Richards, John Carley and Eiko Yachimoto. I’ve been writing renku from 2006 and I’ve been a sabaki of many renku trips and was the guest renku editor at A Hundred Gourds 5:2.
Rasika renku – 4th stanza.
22 renkujin have submitted 46 candidates for this slot.
Please note what John Carley has said about the renku: It is essential to remember, when learning these conventions, that renku is art. It is not a forensic investigation, or a high school debating society. Renku is about periodicity and modulation. It deals not so much with absolute novelty as with recontextualisation. Renku cannot be written by adherence to ‘rules’. We are artists. We must understand our materials. And create.
Now for some more details on what makes renku click:
Jo-ha-kyu forms the backbone of all renku. In a nutshell, what do these terms mean?
Jo – introduction – to create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere
Ha – delineation/expansion
Kyu – rapid close
See how the tone and perspective changes in each of these movements. In rasika, wanting to give an undiluted taste of a longer renku, I’ve tried to keep the jo-ha-kyu, but in a more relaxed manner. So, we can say the hokku and the wakiku form the *Jo* – the introduction. The daisan along with the next 3 verses form the *Ha*, the expansion (where foreign words and your country’s flavours can be explored). *Kyu* is the rapid close – we don’t linger over words and images or elongate our vowels.
Coming from a musical background, I look for rhythmic coherence. I constantly read the verses aloud and see if the rhythm is strong. Just going by syllable counts or using the number of lines alone to differentiate between ‘short’ and ‘long’ verses is insufficient.
Many, many offers for this slot were excellent and I would suggest you keep them as ‘pocket’ verses for your next renku trip. Surprisingly, many candidates were concerned with water, and the next slot in the schema is about rain!
It would be unfair to pick just a few to comment upon but my favourites are:
long lines of seaweed
in the Sargasso Sea
curls of smoke drift
from burnt juniper and sage
I learned so much about the reasons why juniper and sage are burnt, and would have loved to use this, but it involves people gathering for ancestral ceremonies in both Native America and India and that takes us back to the hokku.
at slack tide
the estuary falls silent
the hollow echo
of a swinging gate
of hydrogen bombs
Barbara A. Taylor
dust devils twirling down
the gravel road
Michael Henry Lee
All these verses and many others are lovely, but they mention either a body of water, a hint of some season, human presence, or images that link to the hokku. Please remember that in *rasika*, since it’s so short, we need to avoid repeating images already used. A few of the verses had animals in them – forgetting we’ve just had an ermine in Karen’s verse. A few had lovely fresh images but the *leap* wasn’t sufficient, for the verse was hovering around the ermine.
Zen meditation is about absolute *awareness*. I personally think a renkujin needs so much of this rare quality when on a renku trip :))
It was extremely difficult to choose a candidate for this slot, but after much deliberation I’ve chosen:
the rhythmic swish
of water on pebbles
Yes, it’s about water but I loved the link and the total shift – quite a leap. I was able to include it in this slot by changing the schema. Your next love verse is in summer and not a monsoon verse. Please check the revised schema below.
Marion has linked seamlessly to the daisan and has shifted (quite a leap) into the sound of water on pebbles. Master Basho has written about various ways of linking and one of them is the seamless link from the verse above into your image. Not easy at all. We all know being simple is the most difficult thing to achieve.
The next verse is slot # 5:
Love verse – coming of love / first attraction
Strong human presence
3 lines – around 14 syllables
Please avoid rain or bodies of water, houses, household articles, doors and windows, animals.
How are love verses tackled in renku?
It’s all about human adult love, which means love between the same sexes or opposite sexes. It does not include your love for pets and other objects. Please don’t use words like *love, passion etc*. Be subtle.
Incidentally, when I was asked to teach 11-year-olds haiku and renku at the British School Delhi in 2013, I was stumped for a while, not knowing how I was going to tackle the love verses. After much thought and reflection, I deviated from tradition, and told the children to write about their love towards their parents… and this is what they wrote. I was not disappointed at all.
my mom hugs me
seeing my finished artwork / Rishabh Jain (11 yrs)
a love heart for daddy
on Valentine’s day / Julian Ferrand (10 yrs)
The completed junicho was published in cattails Youth Corner in 2015.
Back to our trip, the verses we have:
tonight’s moon –
eight champagne glasses
catch the shine / lorin
a white silk hat left
on the hat stand / sanjuktaa
Look! an ermine
bolting out from under
that boulder / karen
the rhythmic swish
of water on pebbles / marion
Rasika Schema: Revised
1. long – hokku | autumn moon*
2. short – wakiku | non-seasonal*
3. long – daisan | winter*
4. short – non-seasonal
5. long – beginning of summer | love
6. short – non-seasonal | love
7. long – spring blossom *
8. ageku – non-seasonal *
The asterisks show the important verses in this renku.
I would like no more than 3 candidates per poet, and please post them by Monday, 6th November. The next posting will be on 9th November, next Thursday morning (Eastern US time) along with the instructions for submitting the 6th verse. Keep a close watch on this space!
Thanks once again for all your lovely offers. Half our trip is over and it’s looking impressive! Keenly waiting to read your candidates for verse #5.
In renku spirit and friendship,