Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Spring 2007, vol 5 no 1


Renku Editor's Notes


Dear reader, welcome to the Renku Column of Simply Haiku. For your pleasure, in this issue we have included three formats of renku, one popularised over three centuries ago, which has clearly stood the test of time; another designed a few decades back, much-used in the last several years in international collaborations; the third just two years old.

We also present a tomegaki, or lead-poet's debrief, which touches on many of the issues facing writers of collaborative poetry today. It is good that such matters are ventilated, and we would welcome our readers' views on these and other issues, with a view to engendering further discussion. The above-mentioned tomegaki relates to Daisy State, a spring Kasen, the 36-verse form favoured by the Basho school, composed by two Japanese and two European poets.

In addition we feature Jardin d'hiver/Winter Garden, an interlingual Triparshva believed to be the first piece of formal renku written in literary Québécois. Led by Briton John Carley, the remaining poets are all French Canadian. We include both the English and French texts.

In contrast to the intercontinental collaborations referred to above, our Nijuin, A Crackle of Static, is composed by two Englishmen, whose names may be familiar to many readers. While it is true that bridging the contextual divide when collaborating internationally draws on specific skills, a ‘home country’ collaboration – despite the common cultural ground of the participants – carries its own challenges, among which is the necessity to bear an international reading audience’s expectations in mind.

Additionally, in the Features section, we include two very interesting pieces. The first, by Sonja Arntzen, entitled Haiku, Haikai and Renga: Communal Poetry Practice, deals with the historical context of haikai, as well as suggesting approaches for western poets wishing to write linked verse; while the second, by Prof. Toshiko Yokota, deals in some detail inter alia with the question of how familiarity with the rules of renku can greatly enhance the reader's experience.

To quote one of our contributors: a renku is genuine when it brings to you subtle sighs and tiny smiles. We hope that the renku we bring you here will do just that.


Norman Darlington, Bunclody, January 2007






Copyright 2007: Simply Haiku