welcome to the Renku Column for November 2005. Once again Simply
Haiku is proud to present a further selection of work illustrating
the international excellence and innovation centered on this
most fascinating of literary genres. It is however with deep
regret that we must preface our comments with the news of the
death of Professor Shinku Fukuda.
issue contains the text, in English and Japanese, of 'Earnest
Desires', a Nijuin Renku composed to mark the occasion of the
5th Global Renku Memorial. This stellar meeting recently took
place in Basho's former dwelling in Seikiguchi, Tokyo. It would
be difficult to think of a more auspicious setting. As the photograph
which prefaces co-ordinator Yachimoto's 'Monologue' illustrates
even the weather seems to have conspired to produce a thoroughly
relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Prof. Fukuda was to have attended
this gathering, sadly, as Ms. Yachimoto hints, he was already
seriously indisposed, instead forwarding candidates for the
hokku. Earnest Desires therefore commences with what was to
be one of Prof. Fukuda's final works: Requiescat
generous in his encouragement of international renku, Prof. Fukuda
would have been the first to acknowledge that our second piece,
'Le Marronnier', signals a welcome beginning. Accompanied by English
and German translations, 'Le Marronnier' is believed to be the
first formal Quebecois renku. Given the core contribution to occidental
haikai by earlier generations of Francophone poets and scholars
it is a pleasure to see new groups extending the frontiers of
further south, and into 'virtuality', we have the delightful 'Pussy
Willow' - a free Junicho composed via email by two poets relatively
new to Renku. The energy and enthusiasm of the exchanges between
the two authors is tangible - and an encouragement to others.
A quick use of the search facilities linked through the top of
this page will soon yield plenty of background information on
the 12 verse Junicho format. No excuses - get writing!
The authors of 'Divertimentos'
also inhabit a virtual landscape, but one with a distinctly
English texture. And not just distinct, but bold too. 'Divertimentos'
uses a novel folio structure which, rather like Norman Darlington's
recently proposed 'Triparshva' pattern, extends the opening
and closing movements whilst keeping the overall poem relatively
short. The group also employed an experimental verse selection
system, the leadership of the poem passing from member to member
with each successive verse.
Such enterprise is
surely to be welcomed. It is unfortunate that the initial impression
gained by so many of renku is that of an immensely complicated
set of rules designed to trap the unwary into revealing their
ignorance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Renku is
art, and like all art must perpetually exploit the urge to both
innovation and reference.
Or is that just an
intellectual justification for including our last piece? By
almost any reckoning 'Blue Star' is not renku at all. It is
however a stunning piece of literature which takes the generally
pedestrian 'Cherita' stanza and elevates it to heights previously
undreamed of. The reason why 'Blue Star' appears here is that
this transfiguration is achieved, in your editor's opinion,
through the application of core renku principles: multiplex
layers of linking and shifting which reside not in the words
on the page, but in the space between the phrases.
It is this white
space, this limitless potentiality, that the most skilled poets
craft. Why else would Basho have spent so much time in Sekiguchi
examining the nature of the transition from one verse to another.
John Carley, Rossendale.