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Volcano Renshi Workshop

Posted by JEAN TOYAMA
Sunday, July 15, 2012 9:58 PM


On July 6th we renshi poets had the good fortune to be invited to offer a renshi workshop at Maluhia Guest House in Volcano by Miyoko Sugano. Mililani Hughes was our host. Juliet was our contact. What a treat! We were regaled with good food (I’m not going to list the wonderful things we ate for fear of forgetting something), warm, funny and touching company and the chance to talk about poetry for five hours. What more could we ask for?

What I liked a lot was that these poets asked questions not only about the writing process and the issues discussed in the poetry (more about this later) but also about “renga”, the ancient form of renshi. They were interested in this ancient form of Japanese poetry. In all our events I think this is the first time questions about the 2000 year-old poetry came up! What fun for me. These poets were hungry to learn.

The poets also reflected on the political and social issues of the Massie Affair bringing up their own experience and reflecting on how these issues still occur in different variations today. This is exactly what the Hawaii Council for the Humanities strives for. Having been a past member of HCH many years ago I know how important these kinds of conversations are. It was telling that they occurred here with poets who are thinking not only about their craft but especially about the world and their part in it.

This experience has shown me aspects of the writing of renshi that I had not really appreciated. I had read about the (drunken) renga parties and the competition generated among poets not only in making poetry but also making parties. I had not considered that the linking occurred not only in verse but also in lives. I made many new friends last weekend.

Over this short week I have seen the excitement that this event generated. The Volcano renshi groups are continuing to write! I think that this underscores how effective renshi is for communication and collaboration. Imagine that the two series written by the ‘Olapa group and the ‘Ama?uma?u Group were created under great pressure. Each poet allotted only seven minutes to put her heart on the page. I think you will agree that each series is truly amazing!

I congratulate them all.

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