Monday, April 03, 2017

Playing poetry ping-pong

Renga is a 15th century Japanese collaborative poetry form. The kick-off poet writes a hokku (three lines, 5-7-5 syllables each, what we now call a haiku), the next poet adds two 7 syllable lines.  The third poet takes the 2 lines and adds a 5/7/5 set of verses.  And so on...see this example taken from Miner's book Japanese Linked Poetry.  

Renga can be serious or funny (haikai no renga), but the game is not so much as to follow a single through line in the imagery, but to link and shift.  I enjoy the ways in which the shifts can make me blink, and tsukeai, unusual and evocative juxtapositions of words.

One way to play this sort of linked verse game is to write a series of 5/7/5 verses, each one starting with the last line of the previous.  A friend shared the hokku for a recent renga he had started:
without my glasses
i’m groping trying to find
where my glasses are
If I'd been in the game, I might have responded with
where my glasses are
smudged by thoughts I cannot catch
I see drops of grace 
Anyone is welcome to play!

8 comments:

  1. I see drops of grace
    from the sky they fall gently
    to fill empty souls.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, Cathy, this is gorgeous!

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  2. To fill empty souls
    God breaths, and dry bones arise -
    dancing with new life.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry - that should read "breathes"

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    2. Here's hoping that God is breathing a bit of spring here!

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  3. Dancing with new life
    Crape myrtles bloom along my way
    Making days brighter.

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    Replies
    1. That made my day brighter, Doris!

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  4. Dancing with new life
    Crape myrtles bloom along my way
    Making days brighter.
    Leaves once fed to moths for silk
    Now flutter as Beloved's breath.

    ReplyDelete