Friday, June 15, 2007


I enjoyed the renga yesterday, I half jokingly said to Colin that I wondered if I'd be able to write and walk at the same time, a bit like Gerald Ford with gum - but I was fine.

Coldingham doesn't get its name lightly, even on a summer's day it occupies a secret misty, cold bubble that sucks in strong currents and tides. The beach huts aren't the bright homely ones of beaches in the south of England, here they stagger along the shore like the exposed vertebrae of a dinosaur.

And a bit like taking photographs I found that my initial thought/observation was often the best/strongest one.

It is a fun thing to do, you're sparking ideas off other people, which is always worthwhile, and it gets the brain juices flowing. If you get a chance to do a renga give it a whirl.


Blogger Rob said...

Sounds like fun. I've never done a renga. One of these days...

8:58 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

WHAT is a renga? It sounds like a form of haiku - is it a gaelic word? Whatever it is it sounds like it was worthwhile. I love the description of the changing sheds like exposed dinosaur vertebrae!

1:28 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks folks. CB yes it's Japanese
s'cuse the cut and paste job but here's an explanation:

Renga is a form of Japanese collaborative poetry. Ren=connected or linked. Ga=elegance. A renga consists of at least two ku (or stanzas, often many more. The opening stanza of the renga chain, called the hokku, later became the basis for the modern haiku style of poetry.

As the renga was a popular poetry form for many centuries, there are many sayings that find their roots in renga traditions. The Japanese phrase ageku no hate means "at last", as the ageku is the last stanza of a renga.

The most favored form of renga in the Edo period was the kasen, a chain consisting of 36 verses. As a rule, kasen must refer to flowers (usually cherry blossoms) twice, and once to the moon. These references are termed hana no za "the seat of flowers") and tsuki no za "the seat of the moon").

By one reckoning, the earliest recorded renga appeared in the late Heian period, and was in fact a waka composed by two poets. This style is called tan-renga (短連歌, tan-renga? "short renga"). Other styles are called chō-renga (長連歌, chō-renga? "long renga"). However, Yoshitomo pointed to songs in the older Kojiki about the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami as earlier examples.

Two of the most famous masters of renga were the Buddhist priest Sogi (1421 - 1502) and Matsuo Bashō (1644 - 1694).

In Western literature, the term "renga" has been applied to alternating accretive poetry, not necessarily in the classical Japanese form. Examples include Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson's sonnet-renga "Airborne", 1979, and to the work of Canadians P. K. Page and Philip Stratford, whose collaboration between 1997 and 1999 became the sonnet collection "And Once More Saw The Stars", 2001.

1:33 pm  
Blogger PI said...

I feel very snug because I googled it! I have a picture of you walking along writing poetry, snapping the beach huts and with your left foot cracking walnuts:)

2:54 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Ha Ha Pat. It was bloody freezing, by the end my brain was numb. I'd post it, but as it's a shared piece don't feel I should.

Hope you're out of the flood area. It's chucking it down here, my poor roses and peonies :(

3:13 pm  
Blogger Colin Will said...

I don't think anyone would mind if you posted it, apprentice. I'm thinking of sending it to Haiku Scotland mag, and I'm sure they wouldn't quibble about it appearing on a blog - there's nothing in their guidelines. (Besides, I know the editor!)

5:03 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks Colin,I hope it dries up for you this weekend. I've just been down to close up the Pleasance for the night and got soaked.

5:56 pm  

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