Welcome to Simply Haiku's second Renku
Column of 2009. I'm feeling a little more at home behind this desk
and am overwhelmed by the number of great contributions we've been
offered. In this issue we have not only six poems to share with
you, but also six essays or commentaries that the poets have
written about their works or on the process of creating them. I
hope you enjoy the dialogue and I encourage you to write me your
own thoughts, critiques or discussions of your work or of other
pieces that appear here.
Twisty Chunks: Kasen
This is a solo poem by Keith Kumasen Abbott, one
of the Miner School of Haikai poets whose work was published here
by Norman Darlington in 2008 (Volume 6, number 4). Keith writes in
his remarks on his poem that,
"Twisty Chunks took over two and a half years to write its thirty-six stanzas. Truly, as the old saw says, I abandoned this poem rather than finished it. And even now passages give rise to mild resignation, seeing their inadequacies in construction, perception and art."
But I'm sure you'll agree with me that Keith judges his work far too harshly.
One Set of Footprints: Junicho
Jim Wilson's essay in our last issue seems to
have inspired a lot more solo work. Diana Webb's aptly titled junicho is
the second solo piece we present in this issue and in her notes
she shares her first impressions of the renku genre as reader, then as
collaborator, and now as solo artist.
Our Neighbor's Tree: New Shisan
Karen Cesar is a relative newcomer to renku
although she has contributed to many collaborations since the bug bit her.
Her solo shisan is a delight and I suspect you may enjoy her
discussion of her poem as much, perhaps even more than the poem itself.
Careful—she'll probably convince you too, that "solo renku is an opportunity to pick up a hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror and belt out an Ethel Merman show tune."
Eulalia Waves Us: Shisan
Eulalia Waves Us is the only poem this
issue that was composed by its participants live and in a
face-to-face situation. The shisan was written by AIR, the members of
the Association for International Renku in Japan who have been
meeting every month for more than ten years to compose renku
simultaneously in Japanese and English. You'll likely encounter
more than a couple of familiar names in the introductions section
of Eiko Yachimoto's tomegaki and envy them too, the joy of
gathering together regularly in a beautiful setting to compose
Private View: Nijuin
If my memory serves me well, all four collaborators in this piece are practiced renku poets but Frank wrote me that it is the first time the four of them have written a piece together. Meeting with other experienced renku poets to write a poem together for the first time ... it can be a fraught experience. But when an elegant poem emerges from only offers and amicable discussion—then it is a rare pleasure indeed for reader and poets.
Beneath Thin Snow: Triparshva
Renku is composed these days via email, on mailing
lists, discussion boards and now on Facebook. Beneath Thin Snow
was composed on Norman Darlington's Facebook Renku Group which has
some 100 members whose knowledge of renku also ranges from zero
to 100. I alternated with Norman in leading this poem over the
2008 year-end holiday season, as and when one or the other of us was free of
family and other 'real life' fun.
Many of those poets agreed to add
notes to their verses so as to illuminate the process for readers
here who might be new to the genre and to the perplexing complexities
of composition. Not least of which was my newby editor request
that the one verse I had contributed, be removed from the
completed poem and replaced by the work of someone more distant
from the editorial team here.
Enjoy the reading! I hope the Northerners enjoy their summer as much I look
forward to some winter here and please do write.
Richards, South Africa, April 2009