A String of Monarchs

First published in Woodnotes #27, Winter 1995, pages 50–51.

A String of Monarchs by Alexis Rotella and Florence Miller. Jade Mountain Press, 52 pages, paperback, 8¼ by 11 inches. $13.25 postpaid from Jade Mountain Press, 16651 Marchmount Drive, Los Gatos, California 95032 [address no longer correct]. Remember Eleven Renga and Yes? Rotella and Miller are back at renga again with A String of Monarchs (order all three for $30.00 plus $3.25 shipping). Thirteen linked poems written in 1993 and 1994 show these two poets to be highly prolific at renga. In most renga or linked verse, the poets alternate writing verses in a set pattern. In these renga, however, one poet may have three or more verses in a row. A prefatory note that states that “The authors, instead of alternating verses, played renga the way partners play tennis.” Yet my understanding of tennis is that first I hit the ball, and then my partner hits it (you mustn’t hit the ball twice in a row!), so this note seems incomplete or confused. Their penchant for writing verses in whatever order they choose, however, is not. A definite energy emanates out of this easy writing and obvious friendship. If you enjoy linked verse, check this out. Here are the opening pair of verses from the book’s final renga (first by Alexis, followed by Florence):

After thirteen years

of writing letters

we meet in a book shop.

The day I stopped telling

my mother secrets.