I’m Lorin Ford. I’m your sabaki for this Jûnicho renku.
“The word sabaki means handler or guide. . . . It is pure chance that the German word Führer also translates as guide.” (John Carley, Renku Reckoner)
Please join me in the making of a Jûnicho and in making this collaborative poem an enjoyable experience for all involved.
John Carley’s ‘Introduction to Renku’.
THF renku archive here.
The wakiku is seemingly simple (we link, but we don’t have to take ‘shift’ into account) but it’s not easy to do well. The wakiku has an essential job to do: support, complement and confirm the world of the hokku while bringing something new. Our wakiku had to link more closely than any subsequent verse in this Jûnicho will need to link to its previous verse. There was a good variety of approaches and topics: people, animals, birds (or traces of) and things seen along the way from the point of view of being on the sleigh ride, songs sung, culmination of the sleigh ride at various venues, winter sports, warm clothes and coverings, food and drinks. . .
Reading and re-reading each verse offer in relation to our hokku with its enchanting visual image of the shimmering moonlit road, I was most drawn to verses that evoke experience via other senses than sight, while staying with the context of our moonlit sleigh ride. My shortlist of ten wakiku (in order of post date and time):
colder than we/ can recall in years – Michael Henry Lee
softly, how softly/ snowflakes fall – Kala Ramesh
just a touch of arthritis/ a cold crow caws, too – Betty Shropshire
wood smoke aroma/from the village chimneys -Carol Jones
a split-lipped recitation/into the wind -Patrick Sweeney
the smell of chestnuts/ hangs in the air -Lorraine Haig
a different sound of wind/ in the frozen pines – Sanjuktaa Asopa
the rhythm of hooves/ below tinkling bells – Elaine Andre
warm against the frost/a nip from grandfather’s flask -Phil Allen
the night tinkles/with hoar frost geometry – Simon Hanson
Our Wakiku: the Wonder!
the road ahead shimmers
- – Marta Chocilowska
softly, how softly
- – Kala Ramesh
We move from the exhilaration of the sleigh ride and the enchantment of the shimmering, snowy road ahead to the sheer wonder of experiencing a natural event: it actually begins to snow! Right now, while we’re on the sleigh ride. The awe and wonder if it! This wakiku is written in the style of ‘interior monologue’, a literary device that allows the reader directly into a character’s thoughts. The words here are heard, if at all, as barely breathed. No second party is being addressed. I imagine a passenger on the sleigh, wide-eyed with wonder, turning up the palm of her/his hand to feel the touch of falling snowflakes. It could be anyone, of any age, but it feels to me like a first experience of snowfall. As reader, I’m drawn in. I see the snowflakes drifting down. I feel their soft touch on my outstretched hand and on my face, feel the texture. I become that person listening to the soft sound of snowflakes falling all around me. (‘Softly’ does double duty here.) The syntax of this wakiku differs from that of our hokku, an achievement shared with several other wakiku on my shortlist. A hush is created by the rhythm and pacing. Time seems to slow down. This is a wonderful wakiku in every sense of the word, Kala.
Call for Daisan
For our Jûnicho , we’ll be following this schema from John Carley’s Renku Reckoner:
hokku — winter moon (long)
wakiku — winter (short)
- daisan — no season (long)
verse 4 — no season love (short)
verse 5 — no season love (long)
verse 6 — autumn (short)
verse 7 — autumn (long)
verse 8 — no season (short)
verse 9 — summer flower (long)
verse 10 — no season (short)
verse 11 — spring (long)
ageku — spring (short)
The Three Phases of Renku
A quick word about jo/ ha/kyu, the three phases or movements of renku in general. The jo phase has been likened to a gently flowing mountain stream. It is the polite, gentle or restrained movement. Nobody mentions the war. (Basil Fawlty is locked in the basement.) Nobody remarks on the host’s comb-over or the hostess’s derriere. In the ha movement the stream becomes a meandering river with who knows what around the next bend. (Film buffs might imagine the river in the Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn classic, ‘The African Queen’.) The final phase, the kyu, has been likened to a waterfall, swiftly falling towards the conclusion. Jûnicho renku barely nod to the jo and kyu movements. The hokku and wakiku are in keeping with the jo movement. Verses 10 and 11 are usually in keeping with the swift, straightforward movement of kyu. But most of a Jûnicho is ha. This allows such a short renku to maximise variety.
Our Transition Verse
“The daisan is the ‘break-away’ verse. Whereas hokku and wakiku might read as a unit, with the arrival of daisan, the sequence begins to unfold. Links between daisan and wakiku will tend to be more free than that between wakiku and hokku, while tone, setting and narrative perspective can all be expected to differ markedly from the initial pair. Daisan are expected to open outwards – to be both germinal and unfinished, suggestive of multiple possibilities.” – John Carley, ‘Introduction to Renku’
In addition, our daisan will mark the transition to our Jûnicho renku’s ha section and open the way to the first of two ‘love’ verses.
Link and Shift – A Trio of Verses
“Link & shift is the motor of renku. It draws its energy from the forces of connection and disassociation that develop over the arc of a trio of verses. Any trio. And every trio.” – John Carley, Renku Reckoner
Linking : With the exception of the hokku (and sometimes the last verse, the ageku) each renku verse depends on and connects with the verse that immediately precedes it . . . in some way. There are different kinds of linking. See ‘LINK AND SHIFT—A Practical Guide to Renku’ Composition. The wakiku requires close linking but throughout a renku there will be varying degrees of proximity and distance between one verse and the next. We link to the verse immediately preceding. The wakiku links to the hokku, the daisan links to wakiku . . . and only to the wakiku. The daisan is the first verse to employ shift.
Shift is the engine which drives the renku ever forward until the final verse, the ageku. Shifting requires the avoidance of any connection with the verse before the verse we’re linking to. The Japanese term for the verse we’re currently writing is tsukeku. The verse we’re linking to is the maeku. The verse we’re shifting away from is the uchikoshi. Beginning with our daisan, each new tsukeku must link to its maeku and shift completely away from its uchikoshi.
- is a three-line verse without a cut or turn
- links to the wakiku and shifts completely away from the hokku
- this daisan must have no seasonal reference or kigo
- Please use the ‘‘Leave a reply’ box down at the bottom of the thread to submit up to 3 of your daisan for consideration. (Since the Jûnicho has 12 verses only and we have many participants, a verse by a different person will be selected each time. I hope that those with a verse selected will continue to follow our renku as it unfolds. )
- Please, if you wish to post a revision of any verse you’ve posted previously , use the ‘reply’ function at the bottom of your original post, NOT the submissions box at the bottom of the thread that reads ‘Leave a reply’.
Please post your submissions before midnight Monday 29th January, Eastern USA time. (New York time)That’s the deadline. I find the World Clock handy.
Happy daisan writing! I look forward to reading everyone’s submissions. The selected daisan and instructions for verse 4 will be posted next Thursday morning: February 1st, New York time.
Our Jûnicho to date
the road ahead shimmers
- – Marta Chocilowska
softly, how softly
- – Kala Ramesh