“Through these eerie
spirits (in stories), the vastness and depth of the human society, the
intricacies of relationships, issues regarding individuals and family,
and those encounters that enchant us—are all felt realistically in
Doesn’t each verse of a
shisan work as a eerie spirit in a long Japanese classic story?
Compared to a narrative in chronological order that tends to reveal
shallowness of author’s understanding of the world, each space between
verses could sink into reader’s mind to make that his/her own space.
The goal of a sabaki is to create and present another world with
realistic depth and height in which renju (participants) and readers
can feel serenity breathing a music and the very freshness.
Oh, my goodness. I have
to follow my daughter’s advice and stop talking big ! I always wanted
to visit this pottery museum to see one Japanese painting ever since
the story of the woman painter was featured in a local paper. (She
drew not just on canvas , but on pottery and on cedar plank ). My
proposal of having the November AIR (Association for International
Renku) session in the museum was agreed
upon and we had a great day in Kita-Kamakura.
AIR has been meeting
more than ten years and we have composed more than 250 renku, most of
which are shisan. Shisan works best because we compose renku in two
languages back and forth and it takes time. In every summer we have an
overnight session so that we can do a kasen, the basic of all renku
forms practiced today.
Let me introduce our
members. Tateshi san, the president, has never left Japan but is
adamant in our writing in English. His big speech: “Since renku
aspires to recreate our world, we do need poets from many different
backgrounds and English is a great tool.” He learned renku from a
reputable renkujin called Ugai-sensei and was a very close friend to
Kubota Kaoru who invented shisan form. Before retirement he was a
popular insurance consultant and his business skill helps AIR stay as
a sound organization! He plays flute and draws well too.
Kris Kondo is one of
the founders of AIR. Being an artist, her poems are fresh, charming
and creative and she never runs out of her link offers. We have
learned so many lively English phrases from her!
Uchiyama san is an
amazing hostess when she offers her house for the session. Her two
daughters got married with non-Japanese and live in the U.S. and in
Monaco. She needs English and French to converse with her
Sugiura san remembers
her mother in kimono attending a renku session before WWII. Recently
she published a book of free form poems which I admire and envy.
And Professor Yuasa. I
think readers know his fame. He is the translator of the most read
version of Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi.. A few years ago we were so happy
to know that he moved to Tokyo and invited him to join us. His
judgement in English grammar, in poetic presentation, and in the way
we make ourselves known to the world keeps encouraging us. He is so
gentle and generous and even offered his place to our summer session!
Eiko myself is the
luckiest who has this family all these years.
I especially like the
spring folio of this shisan. I believe we write poetry because we
need to see the reality from a different angle and because we desire
to do something about the reality. The enigma of renku rules prevented
me from becoming too pessimistic though. Tateshi san nicely reminded
me of the jolly side of our life.