To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is no longer enough.
– from Spring, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A week ago, the Poetry Peeps got together to do a short-term project. Short, because none of us are long on time these days, which shows in the long gaps between our projects. Since quite a few of us had been dabbling in haiku/senryu for the past month, it was a fun and easy shift to get into renku. This popular collaborative game of “linked verses” actually prefaced haiku, and was made up of alternating fourteen and seventeen syllable lines. Modern renku combines both haiku with these new lines. The beginning haiku has a theme which is carried throughout the piece, and each poem is loosely linked and shows a natural progression.
There were rules to this – unearthed by the librarian/teacher in the bunch. And there were those who were confused by the rules (Me.) And then, there were those who just… wrote (everyone else).
There are subleties to this form that I can flatly tell you that I have not yet grasped, not at all. There are terms and parts of the links and a discussion of morae, which is the weight of the syllables — I’ve got none of that firmly fixed in mind, just yet. But, I do know that this was supposed to be a game – of cleverness, of, amusingly enough, who could be the most crude yet witty, and of skill with words. It was a good challenge, and an excuse to find out yet more about this unique poetic form.
Laura started us off,
Andi provided the link,
Tricia introduced color,
Andi linked us again,
Kelly zipped by next,
Andi bridged dogwood blossoms to ink,
Sara gave us limeade,
Andi puckered the words,
Laura contributed a sleepy afternoon,
I created a cloudbank,
Then contributed my own rainy day,
Liz picked up the scritching of raindrops,
Then contributed her own inscrutable tale,
And Andi looped the last link around to autumn, and collected the entire chain and all of her links at her blog.
cloud congestion, dully pewter
petrichor from distant patters
tapped on leaden skies
rain’s persistent percussion:
arrhythmic ad lib
Renku: alternating verses of three lines, two lines (could be 17, 14 syllables) with a linked theme and a progression in theme, which creates a shift: Our renku moves from early spring to late summer, from pink to red, from a last autumn leaf clinging stubbornly to a green-freshened branch to a reddened autumn to persimmons reddening and readying for harvest. We highlighted the senses and the bookish, absentminded dreamer who moves through our verdant, golden days is the soul reveling in the seasons — the person we hope you feel you are this Spring.