Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day (1/15/2017)
We challenge you as Poets to use your words in the interest of peace.
Make your poems instruments of change in the world, a change toward universal peace. If you would use your words to cut, let it be with surgical precision that you use to cut out the cancer of hate.
Use your words as torches, not to burn down, but to light the way.
If you would use your words as bricks, use them not to hurl at one another, but lay them on the ground carefully from end to end to pave a road so that those behind you know the right direction and have an easier time getting to where you are.
Use them to build bridges not walls, schools and not prisons, homes and not homeless shelters.
If you must use your words as weapons, let it be to defend the defenseless, but in a way that does no harm and sets an example for others to follow.
Do not decimate your enemy with your words, but teach them that in ignorance there is only our own undoing, that we are stronger together than we could ever be divided.
Teach them that love is the reason we are here and that no matter who or what you believe, you are a brother and sister worthy of dignity and respect in this world that belongs to us all.
A Student of Peace
When we began last year’s collaboration, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy weighed heavily on my mind as did the man who inspired his peaceful movement, Mahatma Gandhi. There is much to be reminded of, learned, and put into practice from their examples in these trying times. Never before have we had such instant access to the violent images being broadcast from all around the world from the despicably violent behaviors of the ignorant, the greedy, and the hateful.
It is with the broader subject of peace in mind that we would like to initiate the first in a series of collaborative poems. We have chosen an ancient Japanese form of collaborative poetry, the Renga. For those who are unfamiliar with this form and wish to participate, please avail yourself of the following resource:
Jane Reichhold’s, Bare Bones School of Renga found on her website: www.ahapoetry. com
The Renga, or “Linked Verse,” as it translates roughly from Japanese, was the precursor of the Haiku, which draws it’s name from the initial stanza written for the Renga party. That 5-7-5 syllable stanza is known as the Hokku and is written by the Renga Master who then oversees all the subsequent stanzas written by Renga participants. Imagine a Tanka written by two people and then that continuing in alternating fashion.
Example: (This was written by one person, Michael, The Poetry Channel, and the attribution is simply for illustration.
Fog cloaks the forest
cedars bathe in autumn mist
the mountain is still
-The Poetry Channel
the sun rises on the coast
bright feathers flit in the trees
Jays squawk in alarm
leap in the air in blue waves
feral felines prowl
-Writing Wings for You
Notice that the third stanza makes no sense in relation to the first. This discontinuation is an intentional aspect of the form meant to reflect the transience of existence.
The Renga Party Structure and Rules
Below is the Hokku from us, the Renga Masters
- You must be signed in to comment and participate.
- Upon completion, as is customary, the Renga belongs to all participants in its entirety.
- You are invited to submit your proposed stanza via comments ON THIS POST ONLY a couplet in the requisite 7-7 syllable format. We will build the Renga one stanza at a time each week.
- Submissions will alternate in the prescribed fashion 5-7-5 next week, 7-7 the week following,, etc. Comments will be open until Friday, January 20th at midnight EST at which point we will select the winner based on two criteria:
- Most Likes will pare down the candidates, and the Renga Masters will then vote on which couplet best fits the original Hokku or preceding stanza.
- Be sure to come back during the week and Like the proposed stanza from the other participants found in the comments you think is best.
The results will be published the following Sunday.
After that, we will alternate the stanzas as required by the form (and as previously stated), next will be a 5-7-5 haiku, and then a 7-7 couplet, and so on for as long as there are a healthy number of responses.
We will continue the Renga for as long as we have interest, but reserve the right to terminate the collaboration at any time we deem the poem has run its course or there is insufficient interest.
We will begin with Compassion and Empathy.
However, one of the core tenants of the form is that each stanza only makes sense in relation to the stanza immediately before and immediately following. For that reason the Renga will take on a life of its own as each poet expresses themselves relevant to the guiding subjects, but particular to the preceding stanza. Make sense?
Below is the Hokku to get this party started. We look forward to reading you.
I Feel Your Pain
Clear crystal dew drops
cascade from weeping willows
filling the Koi pond
M. Zane McClellan
iridescent circles grow
a frog drinks the falling tears
Merril D. Smith Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings
An ancient turtle
basking on a verdant log
stretches to the sun
a heron’s wings lift and fall
one feather drifts slowly down
Ken from rivrlogr.wordpress.com
The result will be posted the next Sunday and you can then submit your entry for the next stanza.
If your offering is not selected, please let it encourage you to contribute more. The very act of participating is one of community and we appreciate you joining with us to write for peaceful change in the world.
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All images are in the public domain, license cc0, courtesy of pixabay.com