“X is great, not just television great, but great in the
way of a poem or painting, great in the way of art with a single
obsessive creator who doesn’t have to consult with a committee
and has months or years to go back and agonize over line breaks
and the color red; it could belong in a league with art that doesn’t
have to pause for commercials, or casually recap the post-commercial
action, or sell viewers on the plot and characters in the first
five minutes, or hew to a line-item budget, or answer to unions
and studios, or avoid four-letter words and nudity.” (from
New York Times TV column , 1 Oct 06)
Is our kasen as great as X? This leads me to the following straightforward
‘Is our kasen written in the way of art?’
‘Aren’t kasen rules like those restrictions today’s
TV dramas have to go through?’
Many in today’s English haiku community seem to think that
renku is not so much literature worthy of publishing as a fun
activity to be enjoyed by participating collaborators themselves.
In all types of collaboration, including movie making or building
construction, having scenarios or design drawings is not enough.
Not only wise leadership but seasoned coordination or soft negotiation
is always required for success. In other words concession or compromise
is inevitable in collaborative production. Renku is no exception.
A sabaki makes sure that the joy of contributing one’s
link to the total renku is bigger than the frustration one goes
through. I am so happy nobody dropped out from our kasen journey
of ‘Daisy State’. But this happiness is elementary.
I only wish each poet found a deeper voice of HERSELF by being
a part of flowing images and fresh words embraced and breathed
Before bringing the renku to the eyes of a publisher, a sabaki
strives to edit the completed poem. It is her responsiblily to
make a bridge between the general readership and the participants.
In so doing she cannot sacrifice the precious feature of a good
renku, a living momentum, or the grace, the renku waves, which
carried the poets all through. And yet a sabaki has to turn in
renku as a work of ART worthy of publication.…
Having said the above, renku is rather outrageous as literature,
because we are NOT supposed to focus on deepening some theme in
our composition. Dramatic suspension towards some insightful literary
answer is not pursued either. Renku is supposed to create a unique
little cosmos, in other words, a poetic mirror of the world we
live and dream in. The lifeline of this art, as the blood is to
our body, is the poetry in between linking verses, which alone
can give life to the crafted cosmos. Renkujin are serious in believing
in the power of poetry, humanity and in communion.
To read a renku takes enormous energy for this reason. In this
post-modern world people are more and more incapable of responding
to others, their subtle, ambiguous and oftentimes vulnerable fading
voices. Why? Because each person tends to settle in his own small
niche and does not try to reach out. People go to their type of
artists who offer their type of art. Reading and reexperiencing
what the renku poets breathed inbetween linking verses takes not
only a lot of time but even a kind of breakthrough in one's reading
attitude. The attitude with which one has been enjoying a tiny
poem called haiku must be revised. Renku is an enormous poem.
A sabaki must have the courage to be “a single obsessive
creator” to avoid falling into the pitfall called harmony.
Renku being the continuous flow via linking and shifting, it is
a challenge to edit what has been already completed in the live
session. A product of pre-arranged pseudo-harmony guaranteed with
traditional rules was surely disdained by Basho who once wrote
on ‘a haikai even dogs won’t eat’. A sabaki
must not depend on those rules even though he musters up all of
them to serve him. You would love the challenge of being a sabaki!
This novice tells you a few secrets she has learned.
The importance of a hokku, the starting verse, can never be exaggerated.
With the support of a waki-ku, the second verse, renku is supposed
to establish itself as a pure poem right here.
Secondly renku has to have one or two poetic peaks where readers
themselves to stop awhile, totally forgetting links and shifts.
Thirdly a renku is genuine when it brings to you subtle sighs
and tiny smiles we experience in this world.
Thus many in Edo period found in renku collaboration, or haikai,
a great way to learn how to live a decent life; I am walking after
October 15, 2006
in this issue of Simply Haiku:
Kasen : Daisy State