Renku Editor's Notes
Welcome the Renku Column for the November 2004 release of Simply Haiku, an issue so full of luminaries that the wearing of dark glasses may be advisable!
The Global Renku Memorial
The 4th Global Renku Memorial was recently held at the Sekiguchi hut, Basho's Tokyo hermitage. In this issue we bring you the full text, in Japanese and English, of three Shisan composed at the event by a veritable firmament of renku talent and authority. Please note that, in the manner of the Association for International Renku, hosts for the occasion, one language cannot be considered a translation of the other. Instead we have parallel texts, written as the works were in progress. AIR also kindly send us some notes to give a little background to the event, and a wonderful invitation to SH readers!
Readers unfamiliar with the Shisan pattern will find a short discussion of its parameters in Vol 1 # 6 of this journal. It may also be informative to contrast these with the other commonly adopted 12 verse pattern, the Junicho, in Vol 2 # 2.
Renku in Performance
In response to the great interest generated by our recent mixed media pieces, this issue advances our exploration of renku in performance. Raffael de Gruttola details the genesis of staged mixed-media collaborations in the United States and provides us with the text and score of Another Pond - a para-thematic Junicho for human voice, violin and cello.
We are also greatly indebted to the artists and authors of the Kaleidoscopic Mandala - believed to be the first work of its kind to be presented, ever, to an astounded and enthralled audience. This issue carries the programme cover, the introductory notes from Shokan Tadashi Kondo, the text of the poem Hawk Feather and, more that just a name check, biographical notes on the artists who participated in the Harvard event. If you don't find this material food for thought, please consult a physician.
The global village is a place where people like to chatter and there are excellent haiku-related mail groups just a couple of clicks away. Some of the best encourage discussion of other haikai genres, the various kinds of linked verse included.
By way of critical appreciation it is not unusual for the correspondent to extract two or three favourite stanzas from the sequence under discussion, perhaps with a brief explanation of the reasons for the choice.
All feedback is welcome, and it would be churlish to discourage the close reading of any poem. But there is an important presumption here that bears examination, namely that the poem is composed of its constituent verses.
At first sight such a caveat might appear absurd: if not the constituent verses, then what? But a renku sequence is more than the sum of its proverbial parts, like any complex organic structure it is not just the number of hydrogen, oxygen or carbon atoms that determines its nature, but the relationship in which they stand.
For all that Matsuo Basho is held to be the father of haiku the man himself would surely have been perplexed by the designation. If Basho spent so much of his life exploring and propounding theories of verse-to-verse linkage one can only assume that he considered the subject to be important.
When considering renku therefore let us pay as much attention to the transition from one verse to the next as to the content, no matter how brilliant, of any given verse.
Rossendale, 13th November 2004
Moorland Gate, Eddie Dillon