Dear reader, welcome to the Renku Column of Simply Haiku. For
your pleasure, in this issue we have included three formats of
renku, one popularised over three centuries ago, which has clearly
stood the test of time; another designed a few decades back, much-used
in the last several years in international collaborations; the
third just two years old.
We also present a tomegaki, or lead-poet's debrief,
which touches on many of the issues facing writers of collaborative
poetry today. It is good that such matters are ventilated, and
we would welcome our readers' views on these and other issues,
with a view to engendering further discussion. The above-mentioned
tomegaki relates to Daisy State, a spring Kasen,
the 36-verse form favoured by the Basho school, composed by two
Japanese and two European poets.
In addition we feature Jardin d'hiver/Winter Garden,
an interlingual Triparshva believed to be the first piece of formal
renku written in literary Québécois. Led by Briton
John Carley, the remaining poets are all French Canadian. We include
both the English and French texts.
In contrast to the intercontinental collaborations referred to
above, our Nijuin, A Crackle of Static, is composed
by two Englishmen, whose names may be familiar to many readers.
While it is true that bridging the contextual divide when collaborating
internationally draws on specific skills, a ‘home country’
collaboration – despite the common cultural ground of the
participants – carries its own challenges, among which is
the necessity to bear an international reading audience’s
expectations in mind.
Additionally, in the Features section, we include two very interesting
pieces. The first, by Sonja Arntzen, entitled Haiku, Haikai and
Renga: Communal Poetry Practice, deals with the historical context
of haikai, as well as suggesting approaches for western poets wishing
to write linked verse; while the second, by Prof. Toshiko Yokota, deals
in some detail inter alia with the question of how familiarity
with the rules of renku can greatly enhance the reader's experience.
To quote one of our contributors: a renku is genuine when it
brings to you subtle sighs and tiny smiles. We hope that the renku
we bring you here will do just that.
Bunclody, January 2007