Hello everyone. I am John Stevenson and I will be guiding you through the composition of a twenty-verse (nijûin) renku.
Andrew shimield declined the option of being our selector this week, so I have made the selections. Twenty-three of you presented a set of 147 verses. This is somewhat fewer poets and verses than in previous weeks. There were, undoubtedly, multiple factors involved but one of them may have been the fact that it was a busy week for The Haiku Foundation and our renku post was pushed off of the home page several days earlier than usual. Should this happen again, please note that there is a permanent heading below each day’s new features titled “Current Renku Session.” You can always use this to find the current post, plus previous posts, reference material and an archive of renku previously completed on THF’s site.
Even with fewer poems, I feel that I should apologize for sampling only nine of them. There were many more good ones. And I should also admit that I made an error in saying that we might look for an “agriculture” image this time. With “scarecrow” in verse two and “farm wife” in verse three, this topic is sufficiently covered for the remaining duration of our renku.
So, here are nine of the many contenders for our verse eight:
pigeons in search of
the confederate monument
Michael Henry Lee
Humor is very welcome in this middle part of the renku and perhaps especially after a verse of such monumental characters in art history taking us to God. I suggested an outdoor image and one perhaps dealing with the non-seasonal activities of birds. Michael’s verse hits those targets squarely. He is also introducing the subject of current events, which we will want to include at some point. We have thrown you all a curve, however, by replacing “prickly” with “chiseled” in verse six. This makes monuments and statues a problem in verse eight.
hopping to a crumb
The humor in this verse is perhaps also rueful and sympathetic to the wounded spirit of Dora Maar.
a flamenco guitar
on a cobbled street
A nod of recognition to Picasso’s Spanish homeland. Music, it seems to me, is always welcome somewhere in the course of a renku.
painting of an elephant
painted by an elephant
I’ve seen this. A really remarkable thing. Something like the acquisition by a gorilla named Koko of sign language. The bible tells us that God made humanity in his own image. But other religions tell us that divinity can take almost any form, certainly including that of an elephant.
a whole life spent playing
rock paper scissors
Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock. An orderly but ultimately futile universe of competition.
another miracle cure
in air quotes
Laurie has, in a sense, linked to the punctuation in verse seven. And, of course, who makes miracles if not God? The implication of this verse, however, is that some “miracles” are not what they seem.
In somewhat the same sense as Dan Campbell’s verse, above, this one relates to the wounded spirit depicted in verse seven. The stark language says to our desire for more meaning in our suffering that nature is not sentimental.
Wendy C. Bialek
Wendy has offered, as a verse, the comment she made after selecting verse seven. This illustrates what I would like you all to consider doing when composing your offers. Take the previous verse and then tell us something else about it or some other way of seeing it, using a different image.
untangles the pile
I also suggested that we might consider a sports image for verse eight. I like this one. For me, it relates to the “tangled” nature of some of Picasso’s portraits and to God as the ultimate referee.
Our verse 8 will be:
Kiti Saarinen will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, Kiti, if you would like to do so.
And now we move on to our ninth verse, which will be the first in a seasonal pair. You can write either a winter or a summer verse. Whichever is finally selected will set the season for verse ten.
Our ninth verse should:
• consist of three natural, unforced lines
• constitute a single phrase, without a grammatical break
• contain either a winter or a summer seasonal reference (not both)
Think of the ninth verse as making a new poem when added to the eighth verse. Repeat nothing from the first seven verses. Be especially careful not to draw our attention back to verse one or verse seven.
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. Kiti or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, October 12 (New York time zone). On Thursday, October 15, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our ninth verse and instructions for composition of verse ten.
Looking forward to seeing your offers!
The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/code-of-conduct/