Friday, May 4, 2012

Poetry Friday: Renku


Poetry ought to be taught in schools as a game.  I mean it. All the way up to high school and beyond.

We start this way---with hand clap rhymes, or raps, or silly jingles which we make even sillier, or perhaps, (gasp!) off-color.

And then...the bell rings and recess is over and poetry gets made "a subject."

PHOOEY on that!

In contrast, there's  an old Japanese game called renku* in which poets build a linked chain of haiku together on the spot. Apparently, in ancient times, it used to get quite rowdy---even a little PG-13 here and there, perhaps like some modern day bouts of Pictionary tend to do...

It was about pleasing the crowd with a sly twist on theme. Or throwing in a tricky word. Or slipping in an allusion that tickled your brain until you had time to look it up and say: Oh, right! I should've gotten that!

So, in the spirit of going back to poetry's roots, the Poetry Seven are at it again with a pickup game of renku.  Liz and Andi threw us the idea a week ago, and presto! by today, we have something that weaves and jinks and laces us all together.  We have a game. Play with us.

*Renku: alternating verses of three lines, two lines (could be 17, 14 syllables) with a linked theme and a shift. Below, the initials at the end of the lines indicate which of the poets wrote it. lps=Laura Purdie Salas, aj = Andi Jazmon (Sibley), tsh=Tricia Stohr-Hunt, kf=Kelly Fineman, sh=Sara Holmes, td=Tanita Davis, lgs=Liz Garton Scanlon




fall leaf in April
wearing last season's fashions--
shunned by the green crowd lps

nature’s first green is gold
progeny emerge in flame aj

white melts into green
gardens blush Crayola proud  
blooming shades of spring tsh

strolling down the pebble path
rose-cheeked dreamer lost in thought aj

palest pink dogwood
April breezes whisper by
petals flutter down kf

ink dries on palest pages
garden rows plow down sillion aj/sh

Brash green garter snake
Hoe laid beside June daisies
Book and tart limeade sh

serpent jewel, puckered words,
work abandoned, glory claimed aj

afternoon drifts by                            lps
wispy clouds, half-closed eyelids
distant playground sounds

cloud congestion, dully pewter
petrichor from distant patters td

tapped on leaden skies                    td
rain’s persistent percussion
arrhythmic ad lib

a morse-code chicken scratch          lgs
a fresh start too hard to resist

the rain leaves its mark --                   lgs
such an inscrutable plot
begs to be re-read

red again so soon and down
persimmon fingers shiver aj



Visit the player's posts today for more about the game:

Tanita Davis (wow! love what she says in the last paragraph about finding April's purpose)
Andi Sibley (took this to a whole new level with her "rules of the game")
Liz Garton Scanlon (chief instigator and rabble-rouser)
Tricia Stohr-Hunt (she recounts the conversations among the poets that led to the chain. Behold the chaos!)
Laura Purdie Salas (started us off with that evocative first haiku)
Kelly Fineman (I followed her in the chain, trying to link her palest pink dogwood to ink on book pages)


Elaine at Wild Rose Reader has the Poetry Friday Roundup today.


6 comments:

  1. Yes Yes YES!!! Taught as a game... maybe thrown down on the playground so as to surprise the kids and teachers into laughter?? So cool!

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  2. I very much agree - poetry is clapped out by hand and we jump rope to it on the playground, and then all the lightness and fun is taken away, as we sit and try to squeeze out what the poet was thinking, from between dry pages.

    Yuck.

    This was way more fun.

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  3. Along with being the Poetry Princesses, you are fabulous role models as the Poetry Playmates. Emphasis on the PLAY!!

    Thanks for links to the various posts, Sara. Fun to get all the different takes.

    Thank you, Ladies, as always, for sharing your gifts and your creations with all the rest of us who are on the playground with you!

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    Replies
    1. Mary Lee, you should play the next game with us!

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  4. Have you read this Pinsky poem which references renku/renga?

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177961

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