This was my first experience of practicing the ancient Japanese art of Renga. Peter (@peterwilkins1) found the link to Wikipedia and we became very exited. Before that we had been chatting about the dragon Renku and what fun it had been. We were wondering how many could play this poetry game. The Wikipedia article gave us the information we desired – 3 to 15. We were thinking about who would be interested in participating in a Twitter renga and when we should start. Unbeknown to us, there was someone already there in the stream watching our conversation ready to write.
Louise (@bookwriter222) suggested we do a renga on unicorns. We all read the “How to write” section and decided we would do an 18 verse version – Han-kasen. The formal format is 5-7-5 followed by 7-7. We followed this form pretty much throughout but bent the rules for aesthetic purposes when we needed to.
We wrote under the constraints of time zones. We couldn’t do the writing at one sitting. Louise provided a superb summary when she and Peter picked up the threads on day two: a hazy dawn ~ brings black witch ~ back into the fray ~ our unicorn is in grave danger ~ we race towards the moon. I added one verse on my own to their two. On the third night we completed the renga.
We had no predetermined narrative scenario. After the event we reflected back on the experience. I think Peter’s observation distills the experience:
Unus Mundus ~ A Renga where each line represents a verse
A forgotten time/ two moons collide together/unicorn breathes am struggling with moon/flowers thing
Sparks from the moons collision/ kiss unicorn’s velvet horn
Drops of rain glisten / like pearls on flower petals / round unicorn’s hooves
Flowing silver mane whips back/unicorn races the moon
Violets spring up/ wherever unicorn’s hooves touch/ trees whisper secrets
Unicorn hears plaintive cry / bluebird with a broken wing
A bird from heaven/as blue as the sky is old/secrets bind them both
Unicorn lowers his horn/ a single touch heals the wing
Bluebird sings his song / unicorn rears high, his eyes / like pools of moonshine
Black witch readies her poison/a unicorn of beauty
Ground unicorn horn/ prized aphrodisiac/ temptation was great
Unicorn sees moon shadows / of black witch in bluebird’s eyes
Black witch casts a spell/withered petals turn to dust/unicorn shudders
Bluebird’s sweet song fills the air/ Black witch’s spell returns to her
Black witch clutches throat / dissolves in putrid green steam / hail the unicorn
An eternal flame shines bright / in unicorns moonkissed eyes
Unicorn breathes/ on the putrid slime/ turning it to gold
Sunlight and shadows merging / death becomes life. Alchemy