I’m mainly blogging about this on my haibun blog, but I figured a reference here would be appropriate. Or opportune. Or something.
I now have copies of Four Tellings: A Haibun Sequence available for sale. It’s a nice basic little chapbook – 22pg, saddle stapled, B&W cover. NZ$6 within New Zealand, or NZ$7 for airmail postage to anywhere in the world.
The book is a sequence of linked haibun, written by Owen Bullock, Beverley George, Jeffrey Harpeng and Joanna Preston. It’s loosely based on a traditional Kasen Renga (and whoever thought I’d be sending people to WikiPedia for an explanation of haikai?!), but scaled back to a mere 20 links.
For those of you who have never heard of haibun or renga … renga (or rengku) are a form of linked verse that has been popular in various forms in Japan for hundreds of years. It often took place in a social as much as a formal gathering, and yes, alcohol was often involved. One poet would be invited to contribute the first verse (or ‘hokku’), which would make some sort of reference to the time, place and/or setting of the gathering. Another poet would then add a new verse (or ‘link’), which sparked off from the original verse in someway. Formal renga followed a set pattern, requiring specific things to be mentioned in each verse. Less formal versions just did whatever they liked. And so the poem would continue to grow, with each new verse leaping from some aspect of the previous one, while trying not to link back into an earlier verse. Haibun are another sort of Japanese poem: the earliest form of prose poem in existence. They combine a segment of ‘poetic’ prose with one or more haiku. The trick is for there to be the same sort of ‘leap’ between the two parts (prose and poem) as there is in renga. (Or, indeed, in haiku itself.) They often took the form of a travel diary, or personal journal.
(Oh the joys of pimping yourself!)