In This Issue
Welcome to the first Renku Column for the new bi-monthly format of Simply Haiku. The expansion of virtual column inches allows us to present three complete sequences, one for each of the principal formats employed in contemporary renku.
The 20 verse Nijuin is written by two poets, in a traditional face-to-face setting, in Bunclody, Ireland. The 36 verse Kasen by contrast is a remote composition, via email, drawing in persons from three continents. Different again is the 12 verse Shisan, composed by four poets in a quick-fire face-to-face session held as a part of the annual British Haiku Society celebrations in London, England, last November.
The manner and degree to which the differing formats and circumstances of composition affect the outcome is an interesting area of enquiry. That there is variety is beyond doubt. Readers might also care to consider the effect of the seasonal progression adopted by the authors of 'Late Arrival' in the light of the comments on the 'natural' calendar made in the December issue featuring the Shisan form.
Full Moon in June
The question of whether or not one should adopt the Japanese seasonal almanac - saijiki - when composing renku is one which elicits strong opinions. It is an issue which this column hopes to address in future editions.
In searching for a fresh angle on 'autumn moon' recently I found myself delving into pre-Christian Celtic traditions, the Medieval romance, and the influence of Algonquin iconography on early colonial folklore.
The table below is hardly exhaustive, but it does give some indication of the depth and variety of resonance that is available to the poet from sources other than the SinoJapanese.
As it turned out the ones which most grabbed my attention were 'Blue' and 'Black' which are year round.
What's in a name?
Renku is collaborative poetry. In some sessions and styles of working any given verse may be effectively multi-authorial. So why give verse-by-verse attributions? And why do so in the body of the text rather than as a footnote?
The Renku Column is interested in your views on this and other aspects of renku theory and practice. Get in touch.
John Carley, Rossendale, UK. 03.01.04, email
2003/2004 Simply Haiku