HPNC Meeting

In 1992, numerous Japanese renku poets staged a tour of North America to promote the renku form, including two stops in California, one of which was hosted by the Haiku Poets of Northern California on 8–9 August 1992. On 1 November 1992, HPNC held a quarterly haiku meeting, the focus of which was a discussion of and reaction to the renku event. The following is an excerpt from a report of this meeting by Ebba Story that first appeared in Woodnotes #15, Winter 1992, page 2. This meeting was the first time that Garry Gay’s new form of rengay was publicly presented. For more on rengay, visit Rengay: An Introduction. Here’s the excerpt.

1 November 1992 HPNC Meeting

On Sunday, November 1, 1992, the Haiku Poets of Northern California met at Nichi Bei Kai in San Francisco’s Japantown for their autumn gathering. Nineteen poets attended. . . .

For the presentation, Michael Dylan Welch, Paul O. Williams, and Lequita Vance discussed their responses to the state of English-language renku. Their primary point was for renku/renga to evolve into its own terms through the practice of linking verses in a contemporary western context. Michael spoke on letting go of attachment to Japanese rules that don’t appeal to or even make sense for Western writers. Paul shared a handout suggesting alternatives for linked verse based on traditional English forms. Lequita spoke eloquently for creating new forms that are not only fun to participate in but which will have literary merit. Michael read a paper by Jane Reichhold in which she gave a history of the linked verse forms in Japan and summed up much of the feelings left after the Renku North America group attempted to teach us the “right” way to do renku. Michael also presented Garry Gay’s response to renku, his own creation, the “rengay”—a six-link piece written on a single topic by two participants. John Thompson read an especially pleasing example that he and Garry had produced. The meeting ended at about 4:30 p.m. Eight of the poets remained to have dinner together and, in pairs, composed several “rengay” and one series of rhymed linked couplets.