Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kasen End: City Landscapes

...We've reached our final destination: 36 verses of our City
Landscapes kasen. But, does poetry "arrive" anywhere? Or does poetry
serve to remind us that we are a people on a journey, trying to
understand our Processes?

A few questions for us to consider...

1) Do we want to discuss our renga? Talk about its movement(s),
images, language, form, etc? Do we want to leave it alone, like a poem
needs to sit in its own space? Do we want to talk about the poem's
process and creation? (I impose on you a bit of my aesthetic by asking
these last questions!)

2) Do we want to discuss our process? How did we respond to this
method of writing poetry? How is it different from our regular
discipline of writing? How does this mode of writing -- online,
published in cyber space, communal writing in form -- affect (or not)
our own prosody and poetry?

3) Do we want to re-examine our technical methodology? Do you think it
worthwhile to include other people in our group? Is one verse a week
for each person too much? Too little? Is a kasen or a renga
(in)sufficient for our needs?

4) Do we, as a group or on an individual basis, need to read/explore
criticisms and writings about rengas/haikus/eastern forms of poetry?
Should we explore other contemporary poets who are writing
rengas/haikus to see the different variations of this style of poetry?

5) Do you think we should take a break before picking up on our next
renga? Do you feel inspired, still, to continue with our renga writing?

Please let me know what you think...

I leave you with the words by Christian Wiman, "Let us remember...that
in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully
inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we
more fully inhabit these things, we will be less apt to destroy both."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Pins drop into a steel cup.
The shake of a passing train.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Rainfall will end
up with a thin ice crust,
synchronizing storm drains.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Today: one more baby born
or border crossed, 300 million.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Street lights splice traffic,
Provinces of fire-blown trees
perilous paradise

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Make-up kit spilled on the 3rd ave. bridge,
Minneapolis, red leaves, red lights.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Steaming custard buns
white surface, one dotted red
Mars hangs in night sky

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Mother's microwaved dinner
Salty with laughing crying

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Carefully prepared
in an old fashioned homestyle -
come home to old friends

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Hiss of espresso monster
Conversation bubbles up

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


walk into the cafe,
to the back of the room
to the one face, beaming

Friday, September 08, 2006


Alphabet soups for sale, one
by one, constructing letters

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Plate stained purple,
typewriter minus letter H,
free with any purchase.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Jackhammer shredding sidewalk
Farmer's market crushed berries

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Migrant workers camp by
the millennial library:
the wait, the weight

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Fishboats at the marina,
City of water and ash

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The line snakes over
Boat rail, turbulent water
Dead fish on the pier.


Imprints of hands on windows
just before shattering

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Each to a word, lines
traced in wartime letters
maps to our past

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Still--we're under the spell of the
alphabet of retaliation

Friday, July 28, 2006


Wings rise east
misguided by burning treelines,
charred city -- a speck, a speck


Yellow bulldozer snorting
launches a swirl of seagulls.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Plastic covers sag with rain,
cranes halt above
the future hospital

Friday, July 21, 2006


Ideas of her self lurking
underneath overpasses


Leaf in clover leaf
Cartoon school bus wiggles by
Scattering the wind

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


She sketches loops and spirals,
pencil resting against her thumb

Friday, July 14, 2006


Labyrinth turnpikes
on the daily commute-
tolls along the way

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Speedbumps glazed with yellow paint
Sleeping roadway log lizards


Filmy fog distances blue
structures, milks signals
from the tips of antennae

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Peering down on the plaza
speckled with light and foot traffic

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Beveled histories
facades of pilaster, plinths
speak, La Place Vendome

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Interpret the messages
The speech of cogs and branches

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


The coming of storm?
Trees in the margin
italicized by the wind


From the bus window, the miles
float under well-traveled wheels

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Poised in the center,
flung to the edge of the
roundabout turning

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Towers in the east are there
so she knows she is here

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Global CityScapes: Renga 1

Saigon: motorbikes
jammed at stoplights, exhaust fumes
scattering insects

Global CityScapes: Renga 1 Rules

Rules: What kinds of rules do we want to establish? I've only come up
with these few, and would be interested in hearing your suggestions.

Mine are:
1) No actual usage of the terms "summer", "winter", "fall", "sping"
2) Mention "moon" no more than twice
3) There must be some sort of automobile (mode of transport) in verses 4 and 36
4) Verses 12 and 28 must refer to some sort of technological device or building
5) There must be a turn or twist of some sort in verse 18

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Round Renga Round

The introduction to the book Round Renga Round:

An interesting read about how a book about rengas began.

Global Renga Tradition

Here is a site that lists several Kasen rengas... take a look:

Friday, March 10, 2006

Example Kasen written by Basho's group

Here is an example of several verses, taken from the middle of a kasen written by Basho's group (note the first three lines is called the hokku):

a three-year-old pony
in the early fall.

Rain falliing
every which way.

they're packed in
the hot spring bath of Suma.

In among them--
a wandering priest.

the talk
in one direction only.

Started by chance,
their love gets serious.

"Eat something,"
the mother says,
"you'll get over him."

The sleeves of the moon-gazers
have grown wet with dew.


Text translated by Robert Hass in The Essential Haiku, (c) 1994, Ecco Press.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What is Renga?

"Renga was a form of collaborative poetry, usually written by three or more poets, that was created by giving the tanka, the five-line poem of the classical anthologies, a sort of call-and-response form. One poet wrote a first verse of three lines in a five syllable-seven syllable-five syllable pattern [called a HOKKU], and the second poet completed the tanka with two seven-syllable lines...

A third poet writes another three lines, which, together with the previous couplet, make an entirely new poem. Then the next poet adds another couplet to make a third poem, which is completely independent of the first two. And so on. The seasons change, the subject changes, and, in the classical renga, the poem proceeds through a hundred verses.

Rules developed. The renga had to be written in a certain way. No story could be developed, the seasons had to keep changing, a traditional image of the autumn moon had to be introduced at least twice, images of spring flowers three times, and so on. The form became immensely popular among educated people at court and in the monasteries. Treatises were written on appropriate ways of making links, and anthologies of examples were published... And it began to spread, as a social activity, to cities and towns, and was taken up by merchants and farmers, some of whom were imitating the refinements of the court, some of whom were drawn to it from the learned traditions of the monastery.

These renga often used a more informal language, treated their subjects playfully, and were shorter, often thirty-six verses long. The 36-verse form was called a KASEN, and the style of the poetry was called HAIKAI NO RENGA."

Text taken from The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa. Edited by Robert Hass. (c) 1994, Ecco Press.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Kigen Haiku

Midnight. No waves
No wind. The empty boat
is flooded with moonlight.

-Dogen Kigen, Zen Master

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Consciousness that does not look back

In kasen, there should be no desire to retrace even one step. As the series progresses, it brings renewal to our hearts, and this is only because of the consciousness that does not look back, that pushes the movement forward. --Basho, The Essential Haiku, p. 306

Renga Rules?

For some of us, it is necessary to establish rules at the beginning of a journey. Perhaps it is like charting a map so that we may have some guides about where to go, what to search for, what to do. Questions may arise, such as: Are we looking for a destination? Does it matter the length of time it takes to make the journey? What are the possible pathways we may choose? Where do these pathways lead? Does it matter which path to travel on?

Others of us may resonate more fully with Antonio Machado, who said, "Sojourner, there is no path. The path is made by walking."

In context of our renga writing, do we want to consider establishing basic, preliminary ground rules? Or do we want to go with the flow? Perhaps we want to just Begin and then see where our creative impulses lead us.

We may want to remember some of the basics from Renga 101:
Hokkus are sometimes chosen by random from a pile submitted by participating poets.
5-7-5, 7-7
Non-linear, non-narrative
Changing seasons
Traditional season words

Where do we begin?

Seven Poets in Contemplation II

A long good-bye--
The man's suitcase
Casts a shadow on the pier. (rm)

Hands fold into themselves
Inside pockets, to walk away (dj)

The woman lingers
As the ship vanishes
Into a cloud (egf)

Anchors away!
Gray clouds settle in. (lm)

A flop of mist and
Last star disappears behind
The Earth's thickened atmosphere (sz)

No light
Candle plays shadow games. (ab)

Winning smile of the darkened
Field--settling lowly on
A deserted football field (ht)

A young birch near the parking lot--
I bend to reach you. (rm)

A dark animal shadow
Moves on slippered feet. (dj)

Funny-footed writer
watches through window
Waiting for words. (egf)

"I don't have them," the man says,
He slides art behind the scriptures. (lm)

A drop of dew slides
Down the cold stone wall, onto
My shoulder. Chilly! (sz)

December--window open
Palm tree breeze. (ab)

On the patio, pink
Flamingoes and tiki torches
Snuffed and faded in the dusk. (ht)

The mayor pretends to speak from a podium.
Defeated. Disconcerted. Drunk. (rm)

Words fumble for place--
The bus bumps steadily
Down a narrow road. (dj)

Outside the bus window
Lone farmhouse--abandoned (egf)

A child drinking coke
Spots a spider and sprays him
Runs & laughs. Cruelty. (sz)

Feeding the baby
Pen tucked behind her ear (ab)

Imagining life in Kyoto:
Full moons and warm sake.
Milk and applesauce in the eye (ht)

The brothel lights switched off earl.
One pair of eyes reflects starlight. (rm)

Narrow street of stars
Heels clinking on the walk
Small constellations (dj)

The air cracks with chill
And she pulls her coat closer (egf)

What is that moving?
Squirming in her left pocket--
Spring yawns and turns over (lm)

Close the engine. It's all right.
Fumes stay while we reap the miles. (sz)

Seven Poets in Contemplations

Red leather gloves--
The oak dresses for winter
--soon Eden's truth, revealed (lm)

A carriage passes us by--
Horses' hooves kick dirt and leaves (sz)

Through the curtained
A solitary tear. (ab)

The truth of desire: January winds
whipping through her hair (ht)

Jagged glass--
Broken light illuminates
A forgotten dinner (rm)

Heart core of wood, curling
Into the new leaf of Spring (dj)

March rain sends
Stray rabbit under
Bush--momentary shelter (egf)

Deer! No, rabbit--what is
It? - A jackrabbit stirs summer (lm)

Holding a twig
The child prepares mud soup (ab)

Dawn brins a hint of
freshness through the screen. Asleep,
he lfts his head up (az)

In Japan, little girl dreams
Of sailors and moons (ht)

Red leather gloves

The seven poets who participated in the renga writing party in Dec. 2003 included:
Andrea Barilla
Emily Gorman-Fancy
Darby James
Lisa Mackender
Robyn Morgan
Hoang-Anh L. Tran
Snezana Zabic

The "red leather gloves" hokku which began the renga written by Seven Poets in Contemplations was written by Lisa Mackender.

The couplet which follows Lisa's hokku was written by Sneza Zabic.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A carriage passes us by--
horses hooves kick dirt and leaves
Red leather gloves--
The oak dresses for winter
--soon Eden's truth, revealed
In December of 2003, seven of us from Robert Siegel's class at UNCW gathered together at a Renga writing party. It was a chilly night, the food was plentiful, the spirit high. We were all squeezed into a tiny apartment on the second floor of Campus Walk, feverishly writing lines of poetry that have long been forgotten. At times, it seemed like the night was endless, and the words were not going to come. I've created a space--it may have already been there and I just answered its call--for us to gather once again across the long distances in order to write rengas. We return to poetry over and over again simply because...