Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2009, vol 7 no 2


Solo Renku


I once sensed a certain mystique and some hostility surrounding renku. Then I was asked to review a book by Ion Codrescu about his haiku journey across the USA, which included many renku written with friends along the way. Forced to read them, I was both impressed by the playfulness which is so needed in our 'serious' lives and amazed by so many angles on the moon. Later, when Frank Williams invited me to try my hand at renku, I realised that these seemingly spontaneous moon verses were in fact obligatory and that the required subject matter of a certain number of verses provided a challenge to come up with fresh approaches to familiar topics. I enjoyed the collaborative aspect of co-creating a piece and also being kept on my poetic toes by the repeated changes of direction we prompted each other to make in the writing.
After that I discovered that sometimes it was fun to let different parts of myself collaborate in a solo renku in which I never planned in advance how it would unfold but allowed myself to be surprised by the challenge to link and shift that each emerging verse offered. In solo as in collaborative renku many past treasures of perception, like the distant scarlet curve of a poppy field, or a moon extinguished by a snow cloud, can be suddenly unearthed and given a home. 


Diana Webb

Related items in this issue of Simply Haiku: "One Set of Footprints," a solo Junicho by Diana Webb.


Copyright 2009: Simply Haiku