I’m leading a renga in the secret garden in Dunbar’s Close, Edinburgh, as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s contribution to this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Details on booking etc are on the SPL’s website. I love renga, it’s one of my favourite forms of poetry, and I’d like more people to try it. So I thought I’d post excerpts from the hand-out which will provide more information to participants.
SPL renga, 19th August 2008. A twelve verse renga in the season of Summer
What is renga?
- Renga is linked verse, composed collectively at one time and in one place according to a prescribed schema or template. It has a one-thousand year history. (From the opening verse – the hokku – developed the haiku.)
- Each succeeding verse, chosen by the Master Poet (sabaki) from verses offered by the participants, links to the preceding verse but shifts away from it. The links should avoid being too direct.
- Alternating verses are written in three and two lines. This event will not follow strict syllable-counting, but lines should be short.
- Each verse is written in the spirit of haiku, in the present tense, and from the world of sensation and perception.
- Expression should be direct and straightforward, avoiding both metaphor and introspection.
- Those taking part, whether they have worked in this way before or not, will enjoy a unique experience of shared poetic composition.
- Spectators (who are welcome) can expect to see and hear creativity in action.
- The event will conclude with a reading of the finished poem.
- It may be reproduced by any participant, provided that all participants are credited.
This renga’s theme, or ‘schema’, will be ‘Festivals’, moving through the seasons.
The festivals will include Edinburgh (naturally), Lughnasa, Moonwatching, Yule and Imbolc, finishing with Cherryblossom. It’s basically a mixture of Celtic and Japanese, which I hope will work.