December 2003, Volume 1, Number 6

Renku Guidelines: John Carley, Editor

What is meant by 'Renku'?

In current English usage the word 'Renga' has become a generic term for all forms of linked verse. The high style of medieval Japanese linked verse to which the word 'Renga' might more properly apply is now often distinguished by a qualifying term such as 'Classical Renga'. The word 'Renku', a relative neologism, is generally reserved for that genre of contemporary linked verse derived from the Basho school of 'Haikai-no-Renga'.

What does the Renku Column of Simply Haiku publish?

There are a number of excellent publications which feature renga - linked verse - as it is broadly intended. The Renku Column of Simply Haiku concentrates therefore on the promotion of renku as a specific genre. In addition to the text of the poems themselves, the column publishes technical articles, commentaries by participants, general queries, and critical appreciation's by readers.

What are the indicative editorial criteria?

Though it is the column's intention to promote both excellence and experimentation, in the first instance preference will be given to those poems which demonstrate a clear understanding of the core structural and aesthetic characteristics of contemporary renku.

Poems will therefore be un-themed, and employ instead that progressive compositional dynamic commonly described as 'link and shift'. They will be multi-authorial, written in cognisance of folio or movement (ren) divisions, and guided by a lead-poet (sabaki) or master (sosho). Persons with extensive practice of renku (renkujin) may wish to propose pieces written in the democratic (shugi-han) manner. Though an appreciation of the function of seasonal reference is a minimum requirement, the adoption of the Japanese seasonal almanac (saijiki) is not obligatory.

Are there additional guidelines?

All submissions to Simply Haiku are subject to the general conditions set out here. Poems should be in English or English translation. Where possible, translations should be accompanied by the original text. This text may also be published. No more than two pieces should be submitted by a given group of poets at any one time. The submission of a poem is deemed proof that appropriate permission(s) have been obtained from all participants. The inclusion of a Tomegaki (lead-poet's debrief) and/or one or more Kanso's (appreciation's) by participating poets is actively encouraged. The full text, or extracts, may be published. Articles are invited from all persons on all aspects of Renku composition. Letters of inquiry are welcomed. Reader's comments and queries are invited both on specific aspects of the column's content and on the literary genre in general.Please place 'Renku Column' and a further identifying name or title in the 'subject' window of all correspondence

Thank you. john e c


John Carley is 48 years old and lives in the Pennine Hills of northern England, cradle of the British textile industry and home to the Industrial Revolution.

A polyglot and former musician John has a particular interest in the phonic properties of poetry and has written, performed and published a wide range of material in English, Italian, French and Piemoteis as well as literary translations from Urdu, Bangla and, more recently, Japanese.

In recent years his radical analogue to Japanese teikei (strict form) prosody, nicknamed the 'zip' style, has earned both consternation and support amongst those specialising in Japanese verse forms in the English language.

His fascination with Renku stems in part from a passionate belief in the transformational power of collaborative art, and in the unity of the human condition.


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