Next Line, Please

Let the Renga Reign

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By David Lehman

March 29, 2016


 

 

For this week, poets were asked to compose two seven-syllable lines that would build on the haiku by Eduardo Ramos Ruiz that took first place last week. The addition of two such lines fulfills the requirements of the Japanese verse form known as the tanka. Eduardo’s winning entry consisted of four separate haiku and contributors were told to pick any of the four for their tanka.

Each of the three two-line stanzas that I liked the most chose the same haiku as its base. Here they are:

Karen Topham

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Zinfandel: dark, fruity, rich,
Pairs well, or so he told me

Dick Humbird

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Then smirked, because it was red
Loving the desecration

Angela Ball

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Below clouds’ close voyages—
moon tipped on its slender back

 

Meanwhile, Eduardo Ramos Ruiz provided a new haiku to allow us to extend our tankas into a renga: Japanese linked-verse, consisting of alternating haiku and tanka stanzas. Here, then, are three different versions of our renga:

(1)

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Zinfandel: dark, fruity, rich,
Pairs well, or so he told me

The scent of chiles,
Chocolate and canela—
Vivaldi: salud!

(2)

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Then smirked, because it was red
Loving the desecration

The scent of chiles,
Chocolate and canela—
Vivaldi: salud!

(3)

A tropic spring night,
Making Mole poblano—
We drank wine with ice

Below clouds’ close voyages—
moon tipped on its slender back

The scent of chiles,
Chocolate and canela—
Vivaldi: salud!

You, dear reader, are asked to vote for your favorite … and to extend the renga further by proposing two more seven-syllable lines. Ideally your two lines should relate to the haiku just before it—while deviating in some significant way (landscape, weather, time of day) from the first haiku in the sequence.

Deadline: Sunday April 3, Noon.


David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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