At our September 13 meeting, our long time member Bonnie McClure will talk to us about renga poetry. Bonnie, who recently earned her Master's Degree in Japanese Literature at the University of Washington is currently furthering her work under a Ministry of Education scholarship at Aoyama Gakuin.
The dominant poetic form in Japan for some 300 years, linked verse or renga is now a largely neglected chapter of literary history. Composed in a group, renga was a social activity, the party game of its day. It can be thought of as a kind of poetic jamming. Techniques used to link verses were varied and sometimes quite complex; sequences are full of wordplay, allusions, and surprising transitions that can be both clever and profound. One of the representative literary forms of the medieval period, renga displays at times the contemplative mood and Buddhist influence found in much medieval literature. In fact, since it has a rule that no one thread or storyline can continue throughout a sequence―instead every new link has to change things up and move the sequence in a new direction―renga has been called an embodiment of the Buddhist concept of impermanence.
Everyone is welcome to the meeting on the fourth floor of the International House of Japan in Roppongi from 3 -5 p.m. Sunday September 13. An early dinner or tea follows at the IHJ garden restaurant for those that would like to join. Reservations for the meeting are not required but a 1000 yen per person donation to help cover room charge would be appreciated.
On October 11, the fellowship will be celebrating 50 continuous years in Japan. The program will include a discussion of the history of the fellowship in Japan.