Seven of us assembled in the grounds of Coldingham Priory yesterday to write a renga. We strolled around the ruins of the old Priory, some possibly dating back as far as the 8th century, before settling down to write in a semi-circle, on a stone seat which was just right for the writing.
These are the grounds, and
here are six of us; the seventh naturally being the photographer. She’s in another shot though.
We started writing on a schema I came up with a few weeks ago. It’s a slight variant on the traditional renga schema, but it still does follow the seasons in the appropriate way. Alternating three and two lines, we had:
summer, summer, moon, wind, harvest, gleaning, night, fire, openings, spring, flowers, and new.
Here’s the brilliant opening hokku by Anna Dickie:
At the end of the day we tied this discreetly to a tree, along with a parchment ‘wish’.
We rapidly got into the renga ‘zone’, and very often we were completely in tune with each other and with the place. It’s a lovely feeling when it works like this, and the day was, for me, renga at its best. I’m not going to post the final twelve-verse renga here, as we hope to publish it, and we don’t want to have copyright issues. However, as with all renga, each writer ends up with leftover verses which aren’t used in the final poem. I thought some of them were outstanding, and it was often difficult to choose verses. Here are my unselected verses from the day:
warmth of old stones
the rhythm section
an arch in the sky
a way to heaven
above the old yew
wood pigeons applaud
the stubble fields
chestnuts never taste as good
as the smell they make roasting
a single malt
sharpened by soil
she puts his hand
around her little finger