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Summer 2009, vol 7 no 2


Renku Editor's Notes

Welcome to Simply Haiku's second Renku Column of 2009. I'm feeling a little more at home behind this desk and am overwhelmed by the number of great contributions we've been offered. In this issue we have not only six poems to share with you, but also six essays or commentaries that the poets have written about their works or on the process of creating them. I hope you enjoy the dialogue and I encourage you to write me your own thoughts, critiques or discussions of your work or of other pieces that appear here.


Twisty Chunks: Kasen

This is a solo poem by Keith Kumasen Abbott, one of the Miner School of Haikai poets whose work was published here by Norman Darlington in 2008 (Volume 6, number 4). Keith writes in his remarks on his poem that,

"Twisty Chunks took over two and a half years to write its thirty-six stanzas. Truly, as the old saw says, I abandoned this poem rather than finished it. And even now passages give rise to mild resignation, seeing their inadequacies in construction, perception and art."

But I'm sure you'll agree with me that Keith judges his work far too harshly.


One Set of Footprints: Junicho

Jim Wilson's essay in our last issue seems to have inspired a lot more solo work. Diana Webb's aptly titled junicho is the second solo piece we present in this issue and in her notes she shares her first impressions of the renku genre as reader, then as collaborator, and now as solo artist.


Our Neighbor's Tree: New Shisan

Karen Cesar is a relative newcomer to renku although she has contributed to many collaborations since the bug bit her. Her solo shisan is a delight and I suspect you may enjoy her discussion of her poem as much, perhaps even more than the poem itself. Careful—she'll probably convince you too, that "solo renku is an opportunity to pick up a hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror and belt out an Ethel Merman show tune."


Eulalia Waves Us: Shisan

Eulalia Waves Us is the only poem this issue that was composed by its participants live and in a face-to-face situation. The shisan was written by AIR, the members of the Association for International Renku in Japan who have been meeting every month for more than ten years to compose renku simultaneously in Japanese and English. You'll likely encounter more than a couple of familiar names in the introductions section of Eiko Yachimoto's tomegaki and envy them too, the joy of gathering together regularly in a beautiful setting to compose poetry.


Private View: Nijuin

If my memory serves me well, all four collaborators in this piece are practiced renku poets but Frank wrote me that it is the first time the four of them have written a piece together. Meeting with other experienced renku poets to write a poem together for the first time ... it can be a fraught experience. But when an elegant poem emerges from only offers and amicable discussion—then it is a rare pleasure indeed for reader and poets.


Beneath Thin Snow: Triparshva

Renku is composed these days via email, on mailing lists, discussion boards and now on Facebook. Beneath Thin Snow was composed on Norman Darlington's Facebook Renku Group which has some 100 members whose knowledge of renku also ranges from zero to 100. I alternated with Norman in leading this poem over the 2008 year-end holiday season, as and when one or the other of us was free of family and other 'real life' fun.

Many of those poets agreed to add notes to their verses so as to illuminate the process for readers here who might be new to the genre and to the perplexing complexities of composition. Not least of which was my newby editor request that the one verse I had contributed, be removed from the completed poem and replaced by the work of someone more distant from the editorial team here.


Enjoy the reading! I hope the Northerners enjoy their summer as much I look forward to some winter here and please do write.

Moira Richards, South Africa, April 2009


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