A Renga is shared writing, a collective creative experience open to all. It originated in Japan over one thousand years ago.
It is a poem made up of short linked verses written by a group of people. Rather than telling a story in a traditional way, a renga aims to create a scattering of images with different moods and tones – a wide-ranging portrait of contemporary life and our relationship with the natural world. In 2016, we wrote a twelve-verse Shisan renga written one verse at a time over the course of an afternoon.
We created a schema to guide us, giving themes for each verse. The verses are alternatively two line and three lines long and are usually written in the present tense.
Renga verses tend to spring from the immediacy of sensation and perception rather than containing overt metaphors or lengthy descriptions.
At the beginning of each round the master poet proposed the theme for that verse. Participants then had 10 minutes or so to come up with a verse responding to the theme or could choose to disregard the theme altogether!
The verses were read out and the master poet, often alongside the other participants, chose the verse that fitted best with what has gone before and moved the poem on to a new place. There was time for discussion, laughter and tea!
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Afterwards, there was a group reading of the poem with wild tea & scones.
The schema was created by Paul Conneally with Anne-Marie Culhane. The host poets were Kerry Featherstone, Lecturer in Creative Writing, Loughborough University and Paul Conneally.