|TABLE OF CONTENTS
XXI:1 February, 2006
A Journal for Linking Poets
Denis M. Garrison
John W. Sexton
HAIKU AND PLACE
Dear Jane and Werner, I've just been through the new Lynx - really enjoyed it. I hope that this year sees the world recognising that collaborative poetry/art is of the utmost worth and is an area that all artists should consider taking part in. At the moment for some, like myself and others that I hold dear, like my good friend Alec Finlay, working collaboratively and participatory are central to our work and I despair of those that call it disparagingly 'community art' not 'real art' - yes we work in and with communities - sometimes small sometimes wider local communities sometimes world communities and what we make together connects and binds those that take part and the world when it links and responds to the work - it is of course real art and fun - an even better word is perhaps joyous - to be involved with the making of. Our works are often (usually) brought together or conceived by a lead artist but the ownership is always by all those that take part in the making from tea-maker to verse writers sandwich maker to image maker. With this in mind I make a strong plea to renga writers to consider moving to not giving ownership to individual verses but to listing all that took part in the making that helped the piece come in to existence. This is the way that after working and talking with Alec Finlay and others here in the UK I feel reflects best the making and spirit of collaborative works including renga. I have after initial worries now no problem with the initiator and leader of works made in this way being referred to as 'master' for the particular making of a piece - not indicating a superiority but more an indication that they are doing an important job on the day of pulling a piece together and guiding participants through the experience - and recognised as such by those taking part. In long renga the role of 'master' might move through the group - in fact over a 24 hour renga this has to happen. With this in mind I'd like to thank you Jane and Werner too for acting as true and open guides, 'masters' if you will accept this term, over the years, to all who have embarked on the renga the collaborative the participatory trail. All that's best and with love, Paul Conneally
Dear Werner, Lovely to receive your e-mail! I value and appreciate your insights into my writing. As a writer, it is always a joy to know that one's work has reached out and spoken to the imagination and intellect of another. I was delighted that you likened my work to the ocean, as the ocean has long been an influence and inspiration to me. Although I live in a small, landlocked town with no water in sight, I have recently been missing the sea and remembering fondly the times I spent in the Caribbean Islands and along the East Coast's Atlantic. There definitely is a fluidity theme in my work. I have also been thinking of motherhood recently (probably given to the fact that five of my friends have had babies in the past year or so), and I can see the oceanic theme at work and interplaying with the idea of nurturing one's child in utero as well as one's own body as well. It is charming as well as fascinating to speak to another writer who has keen insight into the writing process. What would you say is your main theme or thread of continuity (symbolically or otherwise) in your work? Tanka sequences: what a fantastic idea! I would enjoy that challenge quite a bit, and I think I will give it a try. I like the idea of finding one large, overarching theme and then either writing many interconnected tanka from different perspectives of the same image OR interconnected tanka that leads through a narrative arc. I would love to know if you have any favorite tanka sequences that I might read/study for perspective into this writing adventure. Thanks again for your kind message. It was a real encouragement for me in this writing journey. :-) I have enjoyed writing these tanka so much that I think I will surely continue. I appreciate your idea for a series-- now my mind is intrigued and thinking about that aspect of creation! Sincerely, Melanie Faith
Hi, Werner, Thank you for your patience in explaining your suggestion more fully to me. I have thought about this and realized how these verses can, with reordering and with a few additional bridging verses, compose an integrated sequence. I should not have been so hasty to dismiss the idea. I have revised the original submission, deleting a few verses which were too widely variant and adding a few more, to compose a sequence beginning with 3 haiku and then alternating tanka and haiku to the end. Entitled, "How Stone Is Made," it comprehends the death of the son, then of the wife, with a conclusion. I hope that this sequence, as loosely connected as it is, without structural linkages, pleases you. Denis M. Garrison
Dear Werner & Jane, Below is a collaborative/linked poem between myself and Sheila Windsor with illustrations. I don't know if you can use the illustrations or not, but I thought I'd like to give you a look at them. This is a short reconstructed poem from the longer work, Blue Smoke, and probably the last of any fragments we will make from this project. (You kindly published a segment in the last issue of Lynx, another segment has been sent to Dorothy Howard of RNH, which is still pending). I'm also not sure if you can pick up the illus. from within the body of an email and I know you don't like to use attachments, and for good reason. If you think the pictures can be used on Lynx I could supply them on a disc. Anyway, enough about the excerpts from Blue Smoke. How are you and Jane doing? Spring has been a kind of off and on again thing here, but over the past weekend I did see something quite amazing. Two American bald eagles flying in unison over a field, circling and swooping together. We stopped the car to watch until they flew out of range. Never before, probably never again. As far as writing goes, I seem to be working mainly on haibun at the moment. Nothing very experimental, mostly anecdotical material, things I recall from over the years that want telling. All my best, Larry Kimmel
Scifabulenga: A Scifabulenga is a linked poem expressing science fictional and fabulistic elements, each separate link being a one-line scifaiku (here termed scifabulaiku). The themes and subject matter being all those elements common to the literature of science fantasy, from alternate history to alternate worlds to future visions to sociological satire, encompassing the general impingement of the fantastic into the logical universe. A scifabulenga is composed of 13 one-line links, with two paragraph breaks, forming two quintets divided by a central tercet. It can be composed solo or with two writing partners. The Scifabulenga was created by John W. Sexton in March 2006.
Dear Jane & Werner, Greetings after so long, and best wishes for health, wholesomeness and happiness in the present year. I submit a nijuin renku. 'A Falling Star', written e-mail by the five of us mentioned below. We had our own seasonal template, altered a little en route; and used the democratic or revolving sabaki method for choosing verses: the writer of one verse could make suggestions, edit, and choose the next from two or more verses offered by some ( 1 - 5) of the others. I've put the renku on both this e-mail and an attachment, whichever is more convenient. I've been writing seasonal renga for some time now - it gives a structure, makes for variety, brakes the tempo and so on. However, one day I'll review, and think about the next step. There are times when the seasons, especially the third verse of spring & autumn sequences (a 5th, God forbid! ), are more trouble than they're worth. Not only is it a strain, and artificial, but having to be seasonal prohibits the verse one would like. Solution: only two seasonal verses at at time. But then some players don't like to be obvious, and it may be hard to see which season, if any, their 'spring' verse belongs to. More democratic discussion. My opinion on the renga / renku issue is as follows. 'Renga' is the generic name, used for 2 - 10,000 verses, written at any time from the year dot to now. The medievals said 'renga', and the 16th-18th century 'haikai no renga'. 'Renku'* came in somewhere at the end of the 19th century, was used by Shiki for what he wrote but didn't approve of, and has been adopted, and is now used by modern Japanese neo-Basho groups and the Haiku Society of America, at least for the shorter (<37verses) forms. But no retrospective legislation! It cannot be used for earlier writers. The renku has a sabaki, who may direct and correct en train, polish and edit for publication. Whether the older renga masters did all this, I don't know. At least, probably, the last, where there was publication. But there's much to be said for not interfering: the verse offered, however lacking in juice, has come out of the flow of the renga, it may have something concealed, which the writer couldn't express; also, if cliché, banality, or some other kind of dullness (e.g., a 'flyer'- with no link) this is an opportunity for the next player - these are your cards, what can you make of them? Certainly, most of the Basho renga, made with experienced players, flow naturally, and it would be in keeping with his laid-back style to refrain from alteration. Finally, something I've for a long time wanted to say about Jane's famous dinner-party analogy for renga. There are different kinds of dinner-party conversation. For a start, short answers and long. Then, the links between what one person says and the next are a politeness, recognition of interest, or maybe a taking up of a serious topic. Some are barely polite: there's the guy who's been waiting impatiently to get his story out, and jumps in almost before the last speaker has finished. Some are perfunctory: "How interesting - that reminds me of when we were in Wogga Wogga. . ."Or a respectful pause before a clearly related story. But sometimes the listener will have followed both the anecdote and, maybe, the anxiety which prompted it, and return something to assuage the bewilderment. This is kokoro-zuke, the heart link, only one of many kinds of renga link, but without which the renga becomes trivial - though it's equally true that wit also makes the verses flow; and above all, if they don't link, they can't flow- everyone talks, nobody listens. Best wishes, then, Dick Pettit
*To set the record straight, the term "renku" was first published in 1744, just fifty years after Basho’s death in an attempt to discredit his legacy and the popularity he had brought to the form by reducing the number of links from one hundred to thirty-six (just what a group of guys could write in one night). Renga = linked elegance (ren=linked; ga=elegance or even music) and renku = linked verses (ren= linked; ku=verse) jr
** The kasen renga that Basho developed had, and has 36, not 37 stanzas, jr
HAIKU AND PLACE
Haiku lends itself to place, but not as a vehicle of description.Haiku is not wordy raptures over a view. Haiku is the view. There are no similes, no metaphors.
I live on the west coast of Denmark, less than two miles inland from the North Sea and the window of my work room frames a view.
Cows graze Field stretches
Cows graze I have not described the cow, have not compared them to anything else. The cows are not symbols. There is no higher meaning here. I have stated a fact. It has no pretensions to be anything else. And what do I think of cows grazing in a field? What I think does not matter. It has no place in the haiku.
Field stretches The key word here is stretches. I did not write flows, or runs, and certainly not runs away to. I toyed with undulates, but dismissed it as being too "fancy." I went with the simplicity of stretches.
And I wrote Field stretches, not The field stretches. The definite article would have made the field too personal, would have put the haiku too close to me. Keeping field singular is enough to let the reader know this field is not just any field, but a particular field. The definite article would have been superfluous.
The second line Meadows and trees and sky is the simple fact of the horizon. I did not write To meadows and trees and sky. The second line is not a destination. It is not a goal to be reached. The horizon is far away, has uninterrupted length. Nothing breaks it. That is why I used the conjunction and twice. I wanted to suggest length, even monotony.
By a window is a abrupt retreat from this distance and monotony, a sudden focusing on what is near, in this case, what is directly in front of the eyes. My eyes, of course, but again I kept myself out the haiku by writing By a window and not By my window. By my window would have made the haiku too much an observation instead of a simple statement.
Now I have a dash. This is the equivalent of an intake of breath. The best haiku have this to some degree; not necessarily a dash, but an intake of breath, an abrupt change of direction, the sudden shift in mood.
And Wild roses, not just Roses. Making the roses wild (And they are wild!) give balance to the haiku. Wild plays off against Field, with it suggestion of order and cultivation, and contrast the running on and on tameness of the horizon.
So one haiku, one place, one instant. If one wants to do full justi8ce to a particular place a sequence of haiku is needed. As I said earlier, I live on the Danish west coast of Jutland. I will close with that as title – and hope to do justice to a special place
Snow fences piles beside
Sea and sky fuse off
Rain Wind Colors flash Fall
Tree branches Leafless
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LYNX XXI-1,February, 2006