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The SciFaiku Mailing List
and Writing Renga

The SciFaiku Mailing List is an opportunity for everyone to share their SciFaiku over email. You can find out more about it on the Mailing List FAQ. Here, Lee Hauser describes a collaborative activity that took place on the mailing list of writing a "renga". Lee explains renga, and the poem appears below.

Haiku is the descendant of renga, a form of collaborative poetry. In a kind of peotic party game, the first verse, known as a "hokku," is presented by one poet. The next verse, written by another poet, is connected to the first in some fashion, and so on. Each verse is short, and sometimes humorous. During the height of the renga as an art form, during the 13th through 16th centuries, renga of 50 to 100 stanzas were very common, and 1000 stanza renga were not unheard of.

In "The Haiku Handbook," authors William Higginson and Penny Harter write: "The point of renga writing is not to tell a story in a logical progression. Each stanza must move in some new direction, connected to the stanza just before it, but usually not to earlier stanzas. When reading a renga, we . . . zig-zag over the different imaginary landscapes of the poets' minds, much as a spaceship might flash now over ice and snow, now over teeming cities, now over green forests, ultimately to splash down into blue ocean. As readers we should enjoy the flow of sights, sounds, and insights as they tumble past. Indeed, 'enjoyment' is a key word in early descriptions of renga by the first poet to codify the rules of the game."

The SciFaiku renga experiment started with my hokku. I'd been toying with the image of a lonely robot, lured to its death on the sunny side of Mercury by a stray radio signal.

From the sun-side
siren-song lures the probe:
silicon melts.

The amount of information I wanted to convey was almost too much for a haiku, but I eventually knocked the thing into submission and proposed it to the SciFaiku list as the opening hokku of a renga.

Lee Hauser

Lee Hauser Copyright 1996, Lee Hauser

This is the renga that was begun on the SciFaiku Mailing List:


From the sun-side
siren-song lures the probe:
silicon melts.


Songs whisper leylines
Media static whites out.
Signal to noise..........flare/dreams.......


As diodes die, the last image
shows the smooth silver face
Shredded by the storm


Technology feeds
fiery metabolism
with metalurgy


At Mission Control:
baffled by eerie music
...deciphering the code


Mothership, darkside
bereft of her rover.


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