Hello everyone. I am John Stevenson and I will be guiding you through the composition of a twenty-verse (nijûin) renku.
Wendy C. Bialek is our selector this week. She has made her selection from 123 offers, by 29 poets. Here is her report:
our tangled bedsheets
hold years of pentimenti
and softly frayed edges
“Jonathan Alderfer’s is an intimate, revealing verse about tangled bedsheets that are somewhat time-tested, well exercised, and paint a metaphor for this more advanced, experienced love relationship. They hold memories filled with experimentation and activities that lead to the now, the present moment. Pentimenti are the brush strokes or sketch marks on a painting, mural, etc. that show through the top layer of a finished artwork. Artist’s sometimes, knowingly let this happen as it adds interest to the work, other layers, and reveals a ghostly or magical spirit.
the childless couple
they thought they were
Shifting from free and fanciful, a couple is seeing that their life has taken a twist. Linking by contrast of life style, Laurie Greer has presented a dramatic clip from real life…taking us from the dreamy state of the early love relationship abruptly to the next stage and leaving us hanging on the cliff. This couple are facing the notion of becoming parents, which may make them realize that they can no longer behave as children themselves.
in the dark
they still ring
each other’s bells
To avoid any break, could be edited to:
they still ring
each other’s bell
in the dark
Cancer patients often ring a ceremonial bell to celebrate the end of their radiation treatment or chemotherapy. The gesture is meant to signal joy.
In Debbie Scheving’s verse I am shifted now into the world of an established loving married couple who are sharing joys, sicknesses and therapies. A couple determined to keep their relationship alive and well by naturally providing loving, joyful support and being actively present in each other’s life goals. This verse captures the marriage vows for better/for worse, in sickness and in health and illustrates the undying passionate soul of mature love shared by compassionate human partners.
said Dora Maar
The poet has linked visually and empathetically to the chafing/play on body parts in the previous verse, with artists and lovers who have been in and out of loving and hurting each other for many years, and the abstract painter/sculptor style and sometimes harsh love relationship Picasso and Maar had (bordering on sadism) and how Maar turned to religion to survive the devastation felt after her breakup with Picasso.
Dora Maar was the photographer and painter who was often only known as Picasso’s lover and the principal model for many of his so-called weeping women portraits in the late 1930’s and early 40’s.
‘After Picasso, only God’ is a quote from Maar, who had been Picasso’s lover and muse for almost ten years. When her relationship with Picasso ended, Maar turned to religion. Lacan, who was her psychiatrist, thought that she needed something to believe in, otherwise she’d go mad. Her roots were in Catholicism, and this faith was prescribed to her as a means of salvation. For me this quote describes what it is to love with complete abandon. When you lose someone who had become everything to you, what is created in their absence?’
but he was no David
LOL, Pauline! I’ve never been to Florence but I would recognize a David if I saw him! How many statues in the world have heart-shaped pupils? This would be such a fun addition to our renku…but your work is already there, Pauline.
our shadows hold
each other up
Occasionally, a tired relationship needs to be rejuvenated and Dan Campbell’s perceptive and sentient eye sees “the shadow” holding it together in this slightly dark and moody verse. But this verse also speaks of hope because there is enough light to cast a shadow. The link is in comparison, the shift is in energy level. Even the verse reads slowly.
together we move
the lazy-boy chairs
to watch old movies
In Carmen Sterba’s witty verse even the chairs have gotten “lazy.” She paints a senior-aged relationship where the longest moves made are to the comfort zone of re-watching old movies that they could probably easily recite. There’s still a joy in a love, well-worn, with “same old” rituals. They are doing them and enjoying them, side by side, in separate seats but still together!
The link is by contrast with the energy and physical agility of young lovers, who spend much on the time touching, exploring and sharing the same seat, body-close. The shift is in time, to a laid-back, mature love that is relieved and rejuvenated by leg supports from the footrests of their lazy-boy chairs.
our next verse, the 7th’s verse reveal is:
said Dora Maar
When one addiction needs to be replaced by another!
Wendy C. Bialek”
John speaking now:
Andrew shimield will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, andrew, if you would like to do so.
I goofed when assisting Michelle Beyers with the selection for verse six. I didn’t immediately recognize that “prickly chin” meant whiskers and that we already had a human hair image in verse three. This is easily fixed. Wendy and I discussed alternatives and came up with “chiseled chin.” This change not only solves the problem but also helps, we think, to set up andrew shimield’s selected verse.
And now we move on to our eighth verse, which will be one more non-seasonal verse before we encounter a seasonal pair in verses nine and ten.
This would be a good place for an outdoor image, perhaps touching on topics such as agriculture, sports, or the non-seasonal activities of birds.
Our eighth verse should:
- consist of two natural, unforced lines
- constitute a single phrase, without a grammatical break
- avoid any seasonal topic
Think of the eighth verse as making a new poem when added to the seventh verse. Repeat nothing from the first six verses. Be especially careful not to draw our attention back to verse one or verse six.
Here is what we have, so far:
A Better Look
for a better look
the scarecrow’s hat
skims across the pond
finds the farm wife
undoing her braids
of the mailbox
of bosc pears
wrapped in cellophane
his chiseled chin
and my smooth thighs
Wendy C. Bialek
said Dora Maar
Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. Andrew or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, October 5 (New York time zone). On Thursday, October 8, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our eighth verse and instructions for composition of verse nine.
Looking forward to seeing your offers!
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