ABOUT THE FORMAT (from OTHER RENS Book Two & Book Three)
Collaboration is the greatest fun! An unexpected response from a partner sets the mind twirling in a different direction. Renga and renku, terms imported from Japan, are forms of linked verse created by the collective effort of many poets. [The starting verse, hokku, determines the here and now (place/season); was gradually seen as an independent poem and called haiku.] The most important features of the non-narrative renku/renga are linking and shifting. Ren simply means linking. Rengay, a recent American variant, is a collaborative poem of six haiku based on one theme.
Kris Kondo, cofounder of the International Renku Association in Japan, was in Seattle, January 1999, to lead workshops on renku. When Kris expressed the desire to do some type of linking collaboration with Marlene Mountain, Francine Porad 'introduced' them via e-mail, suggesting that we three write a short piece together. Other Rens came about by chance. After explaining rengay to Marlene, she replied, 'Why ren gay? Why not rensad or renbad?' In the spirit of play Kris responded with, Why not renglad or renmad?' We emphasized the rhyme scheme for subsequent groups. So what started as a one time poem by the three of us, continued at a fast, furious pace. We kept coming up with new ideas. The linking of our lives continues today; we became close friends. The Other Rens collections are the result.
Other is a significant word. Marlene says, 'The part I like about Other Rens as a title is 'other.' It relates to Simone de Beauvoir's perception (THE SECOND SEX)‚ '... he is the Absolute‚ she is the Other.' An older painting contains these words, plus 'you're damn right i am the other wow.' This latter takes us/me beyond the male equation and encourages/expects/celebrates independence.'
For Kris: 'Other involves the freedom of allowing me to be myself while acknowledging a grateful nod to the renku tradition that nurtured me. Although I have been fascinated by tradition in both painting and poetry, I strongly believe that one must emerge from this cocoon for art to be truly alive. There are so many ways to link. I celebrate the 'other' in Other Rens.'
Francine sees 'other' in a straight-forward way: as variety, diversity, and the addition of something fresh.
We consider Other Rens Book Two & Book Three a conversation between dear friends. The letters beneath each topic/title are the initials of the poets denoting the order of links 1, 2, and 3 which is then repeated. The poem is allowed to flow and speak for itself, including our individual approaches to punctuation, etc.
Other Rens Book Two & Book Three continues the collaboration of Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain and Francine Porad and the concepts introduced in Other Rens. The comments below about Other Rens are equally pertinent for this second volume.
k m f
October 2000 update (reprinted from Other Rens Book One)
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