Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3


Tomegaki: A Cup of Steam

I found it particularly challenging to lead a poem where everybody else is more accomplished than me. But I think that throws an interesting sidelight on the generally promulgated idea that the 'most senior' poet takes the lead.

What does 'most senior' mean in practice? And if it's just about knowing the shikimoku (rules n regs) where does that leave the shuhitsu (scribe/rule book reader). Having been both a musician and sound engineer the renku analogy I find most effective is to cutting music in a recording studio - a piece of music tends to benefit from a consistent approach to production/engineering. The better the synergy (za) between the players the more easy is the task, but in the end someone has to take some decisions.

Sparing your blushes Norman, whatever deficiencies there may be in this poem none are due to the structural outline. So "A Cup of Steam," if nothing else, is further proof that the Triparshva deserves to take its place in the contemporary lexicons alongside the Junicho, Nijuin etc.

And another interesting point - we kind of fuzzed the kigo (season word) business, and don't seem to have come off any the worse for it. Which suggests to me that one can get too hung up on theoretical problems concerning international, or perhaps simply non-Japanese, renku.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the poem does work as a collaborative piece. Yet, unless you guys have been carrying on behind my back, none of us has actually met. Sheila, Norman and I know that this unlikely circumstance is in fact commonplace. Quite what that means is open to question. Marshall McLuhan would have known the answer. Or claimed to!

John Carley


Related items in this issue of Simply Haiku: "A Cup of Steam" by Norman Darlington, Herbert Jonsson, Sheila Windsor, John Carley.


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