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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Loosening Up

Greetings, everyone! Grace here. Thank you for being patient with my quietude last month. It was a treat to read your tanka, and this month, I'm pleased to bring you what might be my most ambitious challenge ever. But I'll need your help, every single one of you, to bring it to fruition.

I realize I told you to contact the person who posted before you if you planned to participate this month, but in the interim, I had a marvelous idea. The challenge for this month is a collaborative poem, and I had planned to pair you up in groups of four. Then I wondered, what would happen for the participants who came along for this challenge, but not the last one?

Luckily, our system lends itself beautifully to my improved idea!

This month, we're going to band together, everyone that comes by, and make an enormous renga. The renga is a long Japanese poem, a series of very short verses in an alternating pattern, built by the group. There are links and references scattered within the greater poem, and each verse is related without being repetitive.

There are rules on when and for how many verses flowers can be referenced, or the moon, among many other things, but we're going to start more simply.

Three or four people are the smallest group usually accepted for an ichiza, or renga group. The poem begins with a hokku, a verse of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. This might sound familiar--the last time we discussed it, we called it a haiku, its modern name. The second verse is two lines of 7 syllables each, turning the hokku into what looks like the tanka we covered last time. The third verse is another 5-7-5, the fourth another 7-7. This pattern continues until the planned length is reached. So, the beginning of the renga will end up looking like this:
1st person.
*****
*******
*****

2nd person.
*******
*******

3rd person.
*****
*******
*****

4th person.
*******
*******

And so on! Each verse also has certain rules. The hokku follows the same rules as the haiku we covered before; kigo, kireji, and syllable count. The hokku also generally references the season in which the renga is created.

The second verse is known as the waki, and generally, the person who helps to organize the gathering is asked to create it! I'm not going to enforce that in this case; I think we can save it for a more organized piece.

The last verse is known as the ageku, and particular care is taken to wrap up the themes and references for the entire poem.

Now, there are many more rules for each stanza, and most renga fall into formats or previously arranged lengths. Ordinarily I am, as you know, ALL FOR FORMAT. But this time, in honor of the spirit of atarashimi, or the "feeling of newness," I'm loosing the reins. Bashō described it as "refraining from stepping back," and in a renga, one is supposed to accept the change and enjoy the sometimes surprising verse choices that come from others. All I ask is that you are careful to follow the pattern, and let's find out where our renga takes us!

So this is what we are going to do: I will post the first stanza. The second person to link up will do the second, and so on, until the participants run out of steam. Then we will have a Real Toads renga for the ages! I hope that once we try this, we continue to make more and better renga. I also hope this inspires you to have fun, even with short verses.

Don't forget to leave a comment after linking so that the next person in line knows what number they are!

I'm so excited for this. I've been looking forward to it all month. Thank you for sharing in the creation of this unique piece of our community.

43 comments:

Grace O'Malley said...

I've posted the hokku. Who's next?!

Please let me know if you have any questions...I know I was possibly too excited to properly explain things. :)

Margaret said...

I will try next... but not sure if I understand it. I will probably mess up the whole poem... so I apologize. Now I have to go back and try and understand what I need to do. (I actually have butterflies in my stomach! :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

If Margaret is doing the 2-lined verse, I'll do the next hokka (though they are certainly not my forte)
Kerry= stanza 3

Margaret said...

Gads this isn't easy. Grace and Kerry... I did two lines of seven ... twice. Let me know which you like better (if at all) and I will delete the other one. :)

Ella said...

I did 2 lines of seven and working on the 3rd,but I bet someone will bet me.
This is hard, but fun

Ella said...

I mean beat me...lol

I would like to add my 2 lines when we repeat.

Where did you all go? lol

Ella said...

I have to go run errands
I hope to include mine some where in the mix...
Have fun everyone! :D

Susie Clevenger said...

I will be back to add mine...life intervenes.. :)

Grace O'Malley said...

Number five, you're up: 5-7-5, you can write about flowers if you like, but now would be a good time to transition away from them, in my estimate...NO PRESSURE though. :)

Laurie Kolp said...

I hope I did it right... I switched to moon.

Susie Clevenger said...

I brought the stars

Laurie Kolp said...

I was in a hurry to get fifth place... I have edited it since I first posted.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I fixed your link Other Mary :)

Grace O'Malley said...

Hooray for Kerry! I was just looking at the site to see what I could do. Phew.

Other Mary said...

I'm luck #7! What a cool idea - thanks for doing this!

Laurie Kolp said...

Is it cheating if you change one word? Sorry guys... I promise this is it!!

Grace said...

This is a great idea...but I wanted to suggest this earlier but I see that you guys have now posted your links...

I wanted to suggest that the verses be posted here in the comments so we can see it all together? This way the person coming after can see the train of thoughts ~ Or maybe we can post what is already done in the post of Grace Malley as we can edit the post ~ Just a thought ~

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I was interested in following the process, each one adding.......thanks, Other Mary for putting it all together, that makes it a bit easier to follow the train of thought. (I have NO short term memory. None.) Love the way it evolved and all fits together. Very cool.

Kay L. Davies said...

Is there a limit to the number of stanzas? Grace says the last stanza has to wrap it all up, and I didn't do that, so someone else has to be next.
K

Mystic_Mom said...

I am hoping that we don't run out of steam, this is great. Added one after Kay...

Jinksy said...

I'd like to add

polar day does not circle
on cosmic calliope

at number ten, but not sure whether I'd be allowed? ♥

Margaret said...

Jinksy... I added you to my "train" of this poem on my blog... :) I'll await Grace to "wrap it up" Until then, I assume it is still open?

Margaret said...

Jinksy... I added you to my "train" of this poem on my blog... :) I'll await Grace to "wrap it up" Until then, I assume it is still open?

vivinfrance said...

I've come upon this a bit late to join in, specially as I haven't been able to read much lately, but I congratulate you all on the enterprise, and wish you "bon courage". I have only participated in 2 renga in my life: the first was with a couple of other students, and was disastrous because one of us persisted in dropping anarchistic pornographic bombshells into the mix. The other, there were just two us, me and Tillybud Laughing Housewife, who managed a 23 stanza one for Remembrance Sunday.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Jinksy, anyone can participate at any time on any prompt or challenge.

Jinksy said...

In that case, Kery, here I am...
Complete with a graphic produced for the occasion.♥

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Ah, I see that somewhere thru the day people did start posting the entire thing......this morning it got a tad confusing.......much better when one sees it as it evolves. Thanks, kids!

Cad said...

You can blame Jinksy for whetting my curiosity enough to send me into my own kind of spin, as I tried to join in with all you lovely ladies.

margo said...

I'm trying. I have my two lines, but my blog is acting up and won't give me a preview before I post :(

margo said...

Yes! I'm in. Thanks for this Grace. Great fun. I hop we can do more collaborative poeming.

Misky said...

I've posted #13 at http://miskmask.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/1627/

Misky said...

I've posted #13 at http://miskmask.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/1627/

Jules said...

Where is the whole verse?

I added a 7/7 onto Misky's

spring pirouettes ice
spun sugar and crystal shards
across the cosmos

(me)
silver vessel half moon
empties dawn into morning

(this doesn't quite fit on either of my other blogs... so I just put it here - thanks to Margo for the alert to this renga challenge)

The Happy Amateur said...

Can I post here too?

The night bids farewell
Leaving a trail of stardust
It flies on its way

Margaret said...

The Happy Amateur -- yes, I have added you to the whole poem "in progress"

Jules -- it can be seen on my blog and a number of others who have participated...

Jinksy said...

You've beaten me to this comment, Margaret, but I've added them too!

The Happy Amateur said...

Restored to herself, the earth
Resumes her orderly spin

I'm a bit confused: should I just post here or link to a post on my blog? (I did both this time around, hope it's OK.)

Misky said...

I was confused, too, so I just put it on my blog and followed Margo's example. I see now that some people post their lines here so I don't know.

The Happy Amateur said...

Thanks, Misky!

Grace O'Malley said...

Hey everyone, I am just catching up. If you all think it's wound down, I'll add the final verse. But I have to say, I was hoping more that each person would allow their words to flow from their immediate predecessor's, rather than trying to follow one theme through the entire creation. I definitely should have specified that. I will know for next time!

It's looking great so far.

Grace O'Malley said...

Jules, before I assemble the piece, I need another syllable in your first line--it's a 6/7 right now. Lovely imagery, though.

I don't know if you'll read this, so if I don't hear from you today I'll shoot you an email.

Sara McNulty said...

I am going to take a stab at this. Looks like fun!

Grace O'Malley said...

Hey, everyone--I'm looking for contact information for Jules. I can't find any on the Blogger profile or blog associated with the screen name. I had planned to post our assembled renga today, but the syllable count is just off.

Anyone worried about participating before the piece is wrapped up, you have a reprieve until I can resolve that! Post away. Number 15, you're a stanza of 5-7-5. :)