On January 1st 2014, a woman called Jane Talbot started a project called The 365 Days Of Adventure . Jane’s everyday adventures have taken her in very unexpected directions. To be more precise, they took her in the direction of poetry.
As part of a haiku-writing adventure, Jane researched the origins of the Japanese haiku form, and it’s at this point that the seeds of The Big Renga Project got sown!
What is now known as haiku was originally known as hokku, the first verse of a collaborative linked- verse poem called renga. The renga is a Japanese form of poetry that has been around since the thirteenth century. In a nutshell, groups of poets work together to create a linked poem. The first stanza follows a 3-line 5-7-5 syllable format, just like the haiku. It also contains a kigo (season word) and a kireji (cutting word).
The second stanza responds to the first stanza, but this time in a 2-line 7-7 syllable format. The renga then gets handed back to the first poet or handed on to the third who, again, works with what is offered in the second stanza but employs the structure of the first (7-5-7).
This sequence of 3-line and 2-line structures is then repeated until the poem is done!
Jane put out a call for people to get involved in a collaborative poetry project, with a view to creating a renga poem called December . We’re calling it this because our renga will start and finish in December. The first stanza will be created on the 1st of December . Between the 1st of December and the 25th December, 25 verses will be created which comply with some basic traditional renga rules (which aren’t actually that basic!) We’ll travel through a range of seasons over the 25 days, returning to December /Winter on the last day.
The aim of The Big Renga Project is not just to create a very long poem! This is really all about community, collaboration and connection. This is really about the life lessons that being part of renga gathering may bring.
Each poet needs to be fully present to what is offered in the previous stanza. Poets cannot prepare their stanza in advance : they must respond to what is presented to them in the moment; they must make the most of what is passed to them. Each poet needs to create a stanza which respects the previous stanza and respects the emergent spirit of the whole renga. The poets work together to keep the renga alive and nurture it towards its conclusion.
Up to 23 poets will be working together to create the 25-verse renga. There are still spaces on the project, and you’re very welcome to join us if you’re
- Up for learning about, and respecting, the renga form
- Keen to collaborate and be part of a supportive, playful, creative community
- Able to keep commitments
- Willing to record your stanza in video format (so Jane can create a film of the whole renga with all the poets involved)
NOTE – It is not necessary for the poetry to be written in English. However, to support other poets, a translation into English will be required for a smooth stanza transition! For all non-English stanzas, subtitles will be required for the video 🙂 .
If you’re interested in getting involved, please email us here firstname.lastname@example.org We’d appreciate it if you could explain why you’re interested in joining the team.