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


A Renku Perspective


Writing of any sort is by and large a solitary process. However, renku is unique in that its making is a collaborative endeavour. Even if it is a solo renku, then it could be said to be collaboration because we are effectively calling into play different strands of our personality. During the process of writing our renku, there were as we proceeded along, discussions of various kinds regarding the rules of renku; producing the different kinds of verses; injecting maximum variety into the procedure etc. etc.

In our renku, I assumed the role of Head Sabaki. This meant that I drew up the plan for the renku and allocated the verses, as fairly as possible. I also pointed out and advised on infringement of the renku rules, as I understood them. In order not to get bogged down, we kept minor matters for the tidying up at the end.

The start poet provided a maximum of three hokku verses, and the next on the list made their choice from these. If it were deemed necessary they would point out any repetitions and suggest amendments to their choice of verse. They in turn provided their offers and so on until the end. By this process, we enjoyed an experience that could truly be said to be collaborative.

After the ageku was in place, I invited each poet to review what we had written and propose amendments and or changes to the text. I also asked for title suggestions and any observations that they cared to make. I also did the same. By amicable discussion, we eventually came up with the title and agreed all changes. Our correspondence and discussion was an integral part of the renku produced. And to witness that hidden thread weaving its way through a renku is IMHO a magical experience.


Frank Williams

Related items in this issue of Simply Haiku: "Private View" a Nijuin renku by Max Verhart, Vanessa Proctor, Frank Williams (Sabaki), Paul Smith.


Copyright 2009: Simply Haiku