THE EXPERIENCE OF WRITING AND READING RENGA CAN BE AN EFFECTIVE ANTIDOTE FOR POISONING DUE TO OVER-EXPOSURE IN THE DELUGE OF OUR COMMERCIALLY POLLUTED COMMUNICATION ENVIRONMENT
Renga is a form of linked poetry which evolved from tanka, the oldest Japanese poetry form. The word is both singular and plural as in our English "sheep" and "deer" so you don't have to learn two foreign words.
In renga's eight hundred year history it has gone through many fashions and changes of goals and ideals. When it first began the trick was to turn the reader's thinking to admire a pun or jest as a three-line verse (of 17 syllables) was continued with a two-line verse of 7 and 7 syllables. If you have the feeling this is related to haiku, you are absolutely correct! The beginning three lines of a renga become haiku when they were snipped off (500 years after it began) by Basho.
As you read some of the renga the important thing to watch is what happens BETWEEN the links.
Think of each stanza as a springboard from which you are going to jump.
As your mind leaps (and you think you know where the poem is going) you should be forced to make a summersault in order to land upright in the next link. It is the twist your mind makes between links that makes renga interesting.
Take your partner by the hand. Start tapping your feet. Bow. And away you go.
Some leaps are close (as in the beginning and end of the poem) so the subject is moved only slightly ahead. In the middle of the poem renga whizzes can pirouet until your head spins -- and that is just what is desired.
Well, renga is not really dancing in the barn or ballroom concept, but it dies witness to the dance of minds. Therefore you should take it seriously as you remember it is game with words.
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