Renga, meaning "linked poem," began over seven hundred years ago in Japan to encourage the collaborative composition of poems. Poets worked in pairs or small groups, taking turns composing the alternating three-line and two-line stanzas. Linked together, renga were often hundreds of lines long, though the favored length was a 36-line form called a kasen.One of the books in our collection is an example of this "working together." It's Crossing State Lines: An American Renga (edited by Bob Holman and Carol Muske-Dukes) [811.6 CRO]. It is roughly in renga format, that is, there are some stanzas of three and two lines. Other parts take liberties with the form, which is quite okay since the purpose of the project to have poets work together rather than have them create a typical renga.
The definition concludes with: "The form has become a popular method for teaching students to write poetry while working together."
The book inspired another project amongst poets laureate from many states. The resulting work is "The World Keeps Turning To Light" a collaboration of 36 poets.
Our little state of New Hampshire is represented by three laureates--the current one, Walter Burns, and former ones, Marie Harris and Maxine Kumin. Although I shouldn't take any of the stanzas out of context, I am going to lift out Maxine Kumin's contribution for today's Poetry Friday offering. At #18, Kumin's stanza is right in the middle of the poem.
Audubon asked me so I counted:
ninety to a hundred finches on
their way to turning gold crowding
the feeders full of blackoil sun-
flower seeds; both kinds of nuthatches;
a few titmice; clots of chickadees;
woodpeckers: one hairy male;
one female downy; two sparrows
dipped in raspberry juice
all dispersed by a blue jay bombardier.
I'm a sucker for birds, so there was no complex decision-making for me in the selection of this one! You can read the complete work online on the America: Now and Here site.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up for this week is being held at Booktalking. See you there!
Photo by NCReedplayer.