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What the poets are doing: Yoko's Dogs

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According to <i>The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics</i><i>, </i><i>renga</i> is a “once popular but now seldom practiced genre of Japanese poetry in which verses (<i>ku</i>) … are joined into long sequences according to rules (<i>shikimoku</i>) that govern how constituent images are to be employed.” Popular in the late Medieval period, the orthodox <i>renga</i> form eventually gave way in the early modern era to “unorthodox or comic <i>haikai [no] renga</i> … which has far fewer restrictions on topics and vocabulary than the orthodox variety.”<br /> <br /> In 2006, a quartet of poets composed of <b>Susan Gillis</b>, <b>Mary di Michele</b>, <b>Jan Conn</b>, and <b>Jane Munro</b> decided to collaborate on a series of linked verses in the Japanese mode. Writing in the <i>haikai [no] renga</i> style, the poets initially worked via email, soon amending the formal constraints or abandoning them altogether. The experiment culminated in a three-day session in 2008, during which the poets met to revise earlier work and complete their cycle. Collectively calling themselves <b>Yoko’s Dogs</b>, the group is releasing the results of its experiment in what looks to be one of the most interesting collections in recent memory. <i>Whisk: A Haikai no Renga Cycle</i> ($20 pa.) is due out from Pedlar Press in April. <i>–Steven W. Beattie</i><br /> <br /> (Illustration: <a href="http://kaganmcleod.com/">Kagan McLeod</a>)
What the poets are doing: Yoko's Dogs
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According to The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, renga is a “once popular but now seldom practiced genre of Japanese poetry in which verses (ku) … are joined into long sequences according to rules (shikimoku) that govern how constituent images are to be employed.” Popular in the late Medieval period, the orthodox renga form eventually gave way in the early modern era to “unorthodox or comic haikai [no] renga … which has far fewer restrictions on topics and vocabulary than the orthodox variety.”

In 2006, a quartet of poets composed of Susan Gillis, Mary di Michele, Jan Conn, and Jane Munro decided to collaborate on a series of linked verses in the Japanese mode. Writing in the haikai [no] renga style, the poets initially worked via email, soon amending the formal constraints or abandoning them altogether. The experiment culminated in a three-day session in 2008, during which the poets met to revise earlier work and complete their cycle. Collectively calling themselves Yoko’s Dogs, the group is releasing the results of its experiment in what looks to be one of the most interesting collections in recent memory. Whisk: A Haikai no Renga Cycle ($20 pa.) is due out from Pedlar Press in April. –Steven W. Beattie

(Illustration: Kagan McLeod)