Saturday, 22 January 2011

'Fluxus Interruptus: when renga joined the avant-garde'

Over the past few weeks,@marousia & I have collaborated together & then with @bookwriter222 to produce two poems ‘live’ on Twitter. Given the tremendous enjoyment of those two adventures we decided it might generate even more fun if we were to increase the numbers of our group & embark upon a 36-verse renga.

As on previous occasions we identified a theme for our renga (change) and created a hashtag of #rengachange so we could all easily identify each other’s individual lines the moment they were posted. A hashtag also enabled non-participating people on Twitter to follow our progress & comment/RT if they wished.

This particular venture was spread over two successive mornings to accommodate the huge time differences between those people who were participating. Once we had all stepped into the Twitter stream I volunteered to contribute the opening verse of our renga & we worked out a running order from there. To begin with there were four of us: @marousia @bookwriter222 @amoz1939 & myself, each of us submitting a verse in turn & then starting again in the same order. @remittancegirl joined us a little later and the five of us continued to contribute individual verses until our time ran out (some people desperately needed to go to bed).

The following day we were due to be joined by @MissyPoem but, just as were ready to begin, she mysteriously disappeared from our Twitter timeline. So, the same five people who were working on the poem the day before picked up the thread &, after a small bout of confusion, off we went again.

After a few more verses @amoz1939 was summoned by the crickets & had to leave. After another few rounds, @remittancegirl needed to respond to the dinner gong, leaving @marousia@bookwriter222 & myself to complete the renga

Just as we approached the final verse @amoz1939 suddenly reappeared & nipped in with a rogue verse seconds before @bookwriter222 contributed the official ending lines. That was funny enough but @amoz1939's explanatory tweet had me falling about with laughter: drat it. I thought we were supposed to go through the whole night since it is a weekend. O well.

At that point we all heard an inexplicable rumbling noise followed by a noticeable judder beneath our feet. It was, of course, Basho turning uncomfortably in his grave.

Despite our moments of confusion the predominant feeling that ran the whole way through this exercise was one of great fun. It did not seem to matter to any of us if we strayed from accepted procedure or if our verses lacked continuity. On the contrary, we were poetic rebels & celebrated the fact that a degree of Dadaism had crept into our work as we ‘laughed in the face of order & convention.’

As for a title – well, the remaining three of us had to scoot off pretty quickly once our poem was complete so, in the hope that my fellow (sic) poets will forgive me, I have chosen to call it ‘Fluxus interruptus':

Fluxus Interruptus

Under a cool moon/ the earth slumbers, breathes softly/ stillness and shadows

A gentle western breeze lifts / petals from a cherry tree

Blue cat very still/ watches butterflies/ admid the petals

Dragonflies smiling ~ butterlies preen in colors ~having my sake

Silver ripples on green pond/ shades of orange, Koi resting

All is quiet here / pondering the coming day / nothing stirs, I sit

Ginko trees stand silent guard/ maples bowing to the moon

Bamboo house clean and ready / sake bowls fill to the brim

Distant thunderstorm/ heron glides down mountainside/ soft patter of rain

A stranger arrives from town / the thunderstorm is nearing

horizonal rain / steals the stranger's hat and laughs / gifts it to the wind

The hat staggers drunkenly/ spins wildly on the pond's brink

Frog jumps out of pond ~ and landing on floating hat ~a nice lily pad

Stranger kneels beside the pond/ Koi feeding upon his smile

As dawn breaks cover / wrathful angry storm abates / I wait patiently

Air fresh and dense with thunder / dew-trapped sparks of lightning passed

Fire gives out warmth ~ all guests seated by crickets ~ thunder storm ceases

 Feast of eels and saki/ appears for the dinner guests

Crickets one sake ~ waiting for a guest to come ~ eels are delicious

Violet mist drifting down/ spreading blanket over guests

As frogs leap and sing / spoken tales of woven dreams / synchronicity

No leaping frogs, no grilled eels / stops the slow drip - spilt sake

Old man sings a song/ of brave warriors, their swords/ and lovely geishas

Sun climbs high, the morning burns/ sweat trickles down guests' faces

The mist clears away / a breeze that whispers secrets / cools the troubled mind

Breath upon a dusty glass / the ghostly geisha's kiss print

Ghostly foot falls tap/ across the sun light terrace/ mosquitoes buzzing

Sated guests lie on futons/ soothed by ghostly lullabies

An exchange, a glance / a frisson of excitement / quivers up the spine

In the corner the koto / sounds one dark abandoned note

Kimonos rustle/ the sound of slapping rhythms/ paper screen snaps shut

Far away, behind mountains/ black ships in turquoise ocean

Surging through the waves / a promise of a future / ships that speak of change

A floating island sitting / atop a giant turtle

A demon appears/ head flaming, eyes fiery/ the gods are smiling

With lightening speed, he strikes / the gods of change start dancing

NB. For those of you who may be worried about @MissyPoem's disappearance, I can confirm that she had not been abducted by aliens as we first feared. She appeared in our timeline towards the end of our exercise looking extremely chic: Missy's snapshot of the day


  1. It surely must have been exciting to watch it grow and make it grow :) It's funny to see how it begins with an image of peaceful quietness and how the sceneries change ... and there could hardly be more animals inside :D
    And, oooh ... if Missy really disappeared she would be insanely missed (I guess you agree)!

  2. Hi Starwatcher. Thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, it's fascinating to be 'inside' the renga as the scenery changes. It's like walking through pathless woods & responding to all that you've discovered as you craft your next verse. And it is so much fun to be a part of it all.

    Agree entirely about Missy ... she is a constant ray of sunshine in my Twitter timeline :)

  3. This a wonderful flow of creativity :)

  4. Hi Gracetalking. What a lovely description ... thank you so much.

  5. Breathtaking!
    dani @poetpassionbakr

  6. Thanks Dani ... pleased you enjoyed it.

  7. Dear Peter,

    This poem is like a meditation. Intense awareness. The poem is an absolutely beautiful creation between people.

    Quirina x