RENKU: linked collaborative verses: TRIPARSHVA 10, 11 & on to 12

Sabaki (lead poet) - Linda Papanicolaou


TRIPARSHVA RENKU - Post 10, 11 & on to 12

SABAKI: L I N D A P A P A N I C O L A O U



POST 10, 11 & on to 12

1st JULY 2022

This time I am going to place three verses, completing our Monsoon season and all of our Love verses as well. With explanations and deep reading, as usual, it will be a long post, culminating in a Call for Verse 12.


The Call for Verse 9 was a difficult assignment, combining the second Monsoon verse with the first of the Love verses. Two required topics it’s a lot to put into one verse — even a three-line verse — but it does start the Love series off in a distinct way. My general direction for combining these two important topics was:

1) Since the kigo of our first monsoon verse was a bird whose arrival heralds the season, I suggested that a rain verse should follow.

2) I also gave you a few resources to show you how love as a topic Is traditionally handled in renku. Included was a short list of phases of a love affair that came from William Higginson: first sight of a lover, waiting for a lover, tryst, thinking about an absent lover, and end of the affair/end of love. There were enough to give you a choice, the one caution being that topics have to come in order so that the renku does not turn back on itself, so we have to leave room for the next two love verses to come.

The submissions included several very lovely verses with raindrops a sweet, light eroticism that limned the very early stages of physical attraction. All look very appealing, but as I tried each in sequence with the Monsoon verse already placed, I realized a problem. I live in the western coastal United States, where we have a winter rainy season. When a big storm comes into the office for the Pacific Ocean, the rain can get quite heavy. in our southwest desert — Arizona — there are late summer rains which the locals call “monsoons.“ I’m sure that both are different from true monsoons from the Indian ocean, but what I associate with them is an almost solid curtain of water— a feeling that there would be no air to breathe if I stepped out into it. I remember some years ago when Kala was first experimenting with adding monsoon as a renku season. One of those early efforts is a Triparshva published in the 2006 Simply Haiku (https://simplyhaiku.com/SHv4n2/renku/Hawk_Schematic.htm ), with lightning and a drenching rain as kigo for the monsoon verses. The entries in the Subcontinent saijiki as it has developed since then, include cloud bursts, torrential rains, dramatic thunder and lightning, black clouds…

Verses depicting that speak of raindrops and light, and gentle eroticism are still about the beginnings of the season and that we already have in the first Monsoon verse with pied cuckoo as its kigo. A second verse devoted to the start of the season, with the beginnings of Love would be fine if this were a TanRenga or a longer renku form with more space given to this season sequence. But I realized that we had to go full-bore into a monsoon to get the most “bang for the buck” out of this sequence of verses. So I put these several lovely verses up my sleeve in case we have a use for them on side three, and I turned my consideration to those verses depicting sudden, heavy, wind-driven, torrential, pouring rain.

CHOICE OF VERSE 9


The verse we’re going to use in the #9 slot is this of Milan’s, here with its two previous verses:


caparisoned elephants

raising their trumpets amid

the village prayer beats / Lakshmi Iyer

a pied crested cuckoo

on a telephone wire /Marcie Wessels

after the downpour

she squeezes our clothes

under the banyan tree / Milan Rajkumar

The essence of renku is that it’s a journey in which we don’t know where we’re going to wind up. This verse is one of those cases because it is certainly not what I expected when I called for verse 9. You must understand that the origins of Japanese linked verse lie in court renga of the 12th and 13th centuries. Love as a required topic comes from that time when amorous pleasure was all about courtly dalliances. With the development of renku in Basho’s time, commoners could also be depicted, but the extra-marital assumption remained. For us in the 21st century, the task, therefore, is to figure out how we work on what is fundamentally important about human sexuality, in a way that reflects our own time and cultures.

The more I read Milan’s verse the more I see its depth of layering: a couple who have been out in the rain and have removed their drenched clothing so that she could bring them out and hang them. Wanting to understand more about the inclusion of that banyan tree in line 3, I researched and realized that it is a strangler fig, though I had not heretofore realized its deep significance in Indian culture. There’s so much symbolism and cultural reference to banyans that I could not begin to list everything, but I do see the easy familiarity of an established relationship that speaks of marriage and spousal devotion. It is also a very sensual verse that addresses sexuality that is quite the opposite of the traditional renku approach to Love. Thank you, Milan, for this unexpected but deeper turn you have given the renku.

BONUS—CHOICE OF VERSES 10 AND 11:


The two verses I am going to place in turn as love verses 10 and 11 were submitted for the verse 9 slot. With a bit of adjustment, they produce a good love sequence and I thought it would be a shame to continue calling for more verses since we had these two nearly perfect candidates on hand. In live session parties, and in online composing, It’s always a delightful surprise and fun when the sabaki suddenly pulls out several verses from the sleeve and places them. Amazingly, they read totally differently now in the new context and you realize that they had simply been waiting for their time in the renku to come. You begin to understand how important linking is— that in renku verses do not stand alone but rather depend on the verses before and after them to construct and deepen their meaning.


For slot 10, we’ll use this one offered by Kavita:


soaking wet

a backlit craving races

into an embrace


Verse 10 needs to be 2-line and non-seasonal, but the way the verse is written we can simply cut the first line. The effect is to open out the link so that Milan’s verse now supplies the context of being soaked by a downpour. Conversely, the latency of the sexual desire in Milan’s verse resolves in lovemaking. There is a linking technique called “recasting,” in which the last line of one verse is read as part of the next verse to generate still more meaning. These two recast nicely.

after the downpour

she squeezes our clothes

under the banyan tree

a backlit craving races

into an embrace

For slot 11 we’ll use this one by Arvinder:

to the rhythm of rain

the dreams of my first love

once again

Slot 11 is also on-seasonal, so again we edit out the first line with its reference to the rain. This time we must also insert another line break to make it 3 lines. True, it’s short, but I prefer to term it minimalist, as the absence of figurative language befits the subject matter. We can also swap in “those” for “the” in line 1 to build in more emphasis. Plus, see how it recasts with line 2 of the verse before it:


a backlit craving races

into an embrace


those dreams

of my first love

once again

What I find exciting about this sequence is that several things happen when we put it all together:


Variety and progression: Technically, each could be ascribed to a topic on Higginson’s list. Milan’s could, I think be termed the first glimpse of a lover because even though this is presumably a marital relationship, it implies arousal of seeing each other unclothed. Kavita’s verse would be the tryst, and Arvinder’s is about an absent lover.

Avoiding narrative: Even though we must always move forward in renku, we do not want it to develop into a tidy story. In the Love sequences, we can avoid this by shifting the point of view. Here’s how it is accomplished this time: In Milan’s, we have third-person singular (“her”) and first-person plural (“our”) through the male gaze ( though it’s not specifically said that the speaker is male, let’s accept the author’s gender); in Kavita’s we have only silhouettes and the gaze is now someone looking on; finally we conclude with Arvinder’s dreamer, first-person singular and again assuming author gender—female.

Emergent meanings and rhythms: As I assembled these verses, what was on my mind was that I would be editing and placing two of the verses in slots for which they had not been intended. It was doubly or triply important to check linking, shifting, topic avoidance, and variety, in addition to getting the best verse for the slot, and minding our goal to include everyone. What was fun was seeing how revised contexts affected the meanings of the verses. Following the marital context, Milan’s verse rather than Marcie’s cuckoo gave depth and intensity to Kavita’s embrace, placing Arvinder’s verse following Kavita’s is now about being in the arms of one lover while having romantic fantasies about another in the past. Wow! I hadn’t expected that!

I also had not anticipated the “renku wave” that rose from that first monsoon verse. It begins with a telephone line, by which everyone in the neighborhood knows the gossip, takes us through the prescribed duties and intimate aspects of marriage, and finally leaves us with the kind of unsanctioned thoughts we reveal to no one. More than the sum of its parts, it’s about the tension between our outer, social and private, inner selves.


a pied crested cuckoo

on a telephone wire / Marcie Wessels


after the downpour

she squeezes our clothes

under the banyan tree / Milan Rajkumar

a backlit craving races

into an embrace / Kavita Ratna

those dreams

of my first love

once again / Arvinder Kaur

"Wait!" you say. "Is it okay to do this in renku? Didn’t you just say that renku isn’t storytelling?" My argument would be that each verse retains its identity, links, shifts, and avoids repeating topics within rules. I haven’t talked much about parameters for repetition and avoidance, but traditional Japanese rules prescribe that Love topics can be continued for as long as five verses. Moreover, it’s important to remember that we’re not just playing word games here — we are writing a poem, and we want to write it in a way that’s interesting and captivating enough that people want to read it. That means varying the tempo so that sometimes we are in quick short steps from one verse to the next, and sometimes picking up a theme to explore and more leisure and depth. For the next verses, both nonseasonal and leading into an autumn series, we will change to some quick short simple linking.

And guess what! We are halfway through our renku!


CALL FOR VERSE 12:

  • 2 lines, non-seasonal, place (non-person)

  • No love or weather topics—we want a change of direction and a different tempo in this and the next slot.

  • Check the Topic Category lists for ideas of things we haven’t covered yet.

THE RENKU SO FAR


1. Jo

house warming …

all the flavours of summer

on a dining table / Firdaus Parvi


a dozen ripened mangoes

from the neighbour next door / Kala Ramesh


the gleeful shouts

of street kids rolling

a bicycle tyre / Priti Aisola


an airplane through the clouds

in an indigo twilight / Margherita Petriccione


so close

the snow moon

envelops the field / Angiola Inglese


crackling silence as we bend

over the chess board / Sushama Kapur

2. Ha caparisoned elephants

raising their trumpets amid

the village prayer beats / Lakshmi Iyer

a pied crested cuckoo

on a telephone wire / Marcie Wessels

after the downpour

she squeezes our clothes

under the banyan tree / Milan Rajkumar

a backlit craving races

into an embrace / Kavita Ratna

those dreams

of my first love

once again / Arvinder Kaur

THE SCHEMA: NOTE ADJUSTMENTS IN VERSES 8-12 OF HA

Side one - jo

hokku summer

wakiku summer

daisan non season

4 ns

5. winter moon

6 ns

***


Side 2 - ha

7 ns

8 monsoon

9 monsoon love

10 ns lv

11 ns lv

12. ns (WE ARE HERE)

13 ns

14 autumn

15 au moon

16 au

***

Side 3 - kyu

17 ns

18 monsoon

19 ns

20 spring

21 sp blossom

ageku - sp

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING

Each participant may offer two submissions, posted together in the same comment, with your name as you would like it to appear in the renku. Instructions for submitting remain as last time.


The deadline is 48 hours from now. We follow Indian Standard Time (IST). This POST will go up on 1st July at 6 A.M. So on 3rd July at 6 A.M, the window closes (IST). All 12th verse offers must be posted on this thread BEFORE 6 A.M on 3rd July.


LINKS TO RESOURCES:


The schema for our triparshva: https://www.trivenihaikai.in/post/renku-linked-collaborative-verses


URLs for online saijikis: https://www.trivenihaikai.in/post/renku-linked-collaborative-verses-triparshva-4-1


Kondo and Higginson, “Link and Shift, A Practical Guide to Renku Composition”: http://www.2hweb.net/haikai/renku/Link_Shift.html


Ferris Gilli, “English Grammar: Variety in Renku”: https://sites.google.com/site/worldhaikureview2/whr-archives/grammar-in-renku



Richard Gilbert’s “Muki Saijiki”: https://gendaihaiku.com/research/kigo/05-muki-saijiki-TOC.htm

*** *** *** *** Linda, Simply beautiful. The renku is progressing so well. Your explanations are masterful. The changed schema is reading good. Thanks a million for leading us on this exciting journey. _()_

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