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Welcome to the Renku Column of the May/June edition of Simply Haiku. Once more we have the pleasure of presenting a selection of verse as varied as it is excellent. This edition is also graced by a technical article by somebody other than me. Good news!

But first to the poetry. The Kasen Tailgate Parties effortlessly integrates blowfish and MoonPie®, Saudi ankles and Takekurabe, in a sweep of content and tone typical of the best intercultural renku. At 36 verses, and 11 poets, this is a honeybee of a poem: it shouldnít fly, but it does.

More intimate and restrained, the Nijuin Dandelion has the air of a face-to-face dialogue, offering wonderful moments of understated humour

.....stolidly considering
.....a new hole in the road

and powerful emotional colours

.....closing the door
.....on yet another home
.....none of them lasting

Such is the synergy between the authors that the mode of composition comes as something of a surprise.

To date The Renku Column has been conservative in its choice of material; the two solo Nijuin, After Light the Fire and Beyond the Labyrinth, mark a departure. Romanian poet Constantin Severin brings a radically different sensitivity to haikai-no-renga, by turns surreal and introspective, speculative and metaphysical. The poems, with English translation by Liviu Martinescu, are from the ground breaking The Axolotl: the first collection of renga to be published in Romanian.

In order to square the circle we have the pleasure of presenting the essay Minase Sangin ñ an Introduction to Renga by Akiko Tsukamoto. Sogi was a great influence on Basho and the initial folio of contemporary renku, the preface jo, is still regarded as being akin in both tone and content to that of ëclassicalí renga. Ms Tsukamoto sketches the history of the genre and goes on to give a detailed exposition of the linking technique in the opening movement of this seminal work.

An Invitation

With its breadth of features and retrospectives an impression has arisen in some quarters that Simply Haiku does not welcome unsolicited work. This is not the case. To prove it, here is an invitation.

If you are reading this (check!), and you write linked verse, you are cordially invited to consider the Renku Column of Simply Haiku as an outlet for your work. Please have a look at our guidelines. If you think your poetry fits the bill, send it in. If you think it doesn't quite touch all bases, but we should publish it anyway, send it in and tell us why.

Payback time

In seeking to present the original texts from 'The Axolotl' in a way that all could access, The Renku Column hit a severe patch of head scratching. It would appear that there are critics, dire critics and diacritics.

Step forward Dr. Ionel Mugurel Ciobîca of Eindhoven University who, with a degree of generosity matched only by his patience, walked us through the various ways and means of converting codes and conventions.

Unfortunately, in this and other instances of imposing on the good nature of others, the Renku Column has now accumulated a karmic debt the size of Pluto. You can help the editor discharge this obligation by mailing him with renku related queries or quandaries of the hair-whitening variety.

Thank you.

John Carley, Rossendale 11.05.04