Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2006, vol 4 no 2

RENKU

Renku Editor's Notes

       

Hello, welcome to the Renku Column of Simply Haiku for, ohh... the umpteenth time!

As haikai letters begin to gain notions of maturity in the English speaking world it is to be expected that an increasing number of haijin are prepared to look more closely at genres other than haiku. English language renku is in its infancy. But infancy is an exciting time - a time when many profound stages of development occur. It is with pleasure therefore that we are able to present a range of poems employing differing formats and styles of contemporary renku.

Pizzicato and Natural Light are both Junicho; one written via email, the other in a face-to-face setting. There are some persons who believe that email composition is qualitatively different to working in physical proximity. A challenge then: read the poems without looking at the closing attributions. Could you tell which employed the virtual and which the actual workspace?

No Single Star is a Shisan, led at a recent British Haiku Society gathering by your editor. Another challenge: The Shisan and Junicho are both 12 verse patterns; which is the 'easier' to employ? Background information on the Shisan and Junicho patterns can be found by querying the Simply Haiku search engine linked to the toolbar heading this page.

Eagle eyed readers will have noted that all the poems mentioned to date are composed entirely by British poets. Given that your editor has 'British' under the 'Nationality' rubric of his passport the reader may be forgiven for entertaining suspicions of cultural chauvinism. Fortunately the Kasen renku Zwischen Kornraden (Between Corn Cockles) comes to the rescue. This column has had the privilege of carrying work in a number of languages other than English and Japanese. It is a pleasure to introduce our first poem composed in German. The Renku Column invites submissions in all languages, accompanied by a provisional English translation.

Lastly comes the Triparshva The Hawk's Grand Swoop. The 22 verse Triparshva pattern is already something of an innovation. In this poem the participants tackle head on one of the central issues in the debate around haikai seasonality for languages other than Japanese: what relevance do Japanese seasonal sensibilities have for a poet raised in the middle of the Sahara dessert?

In this instance two of the three participants come from Pune and Hyderabad, and the renjyu have elected to adopt a frame of reference more suited to India. As a result the poem recognises six seasons: Spring, Monsoon, Summer, Autumn, Winter & Frost. In order to illustrate the method we carry a breakdown of the poem's structure under the title of 'Hawk, Schematic'. I hope though that readers will first enjoy the text without annotations. Fascinating though it may be, renku is art, or it is nothing.

John Carley, Rossendale. June 2006

 

 

 

 

 

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