Renhai Reflections 5: Introduction #5

Renhai Origins: Renhai is Born

How did the idea of Renhai come about? Well, it all started one day in August last year (2007), around the time the year-long Rengay project was getting started. I got to thinking, "what if a Rengay-like poem was even shorter than six verses?" Of course, one verse is a Haiku and two verses is a Tanka. What about three verses?

This idea was appealing as it nicely corresponded with the three "lines" of Haiku. Could it be possible to write such a short rengay-like poem? Could this be successfully accomplished by two writers? In the weeks following this epiphany, Zhanna P. Rader and I experimented with the idea and after a couple of tries found a good way to write them.

The final approach intrigued us in that the middle verse was truly collaborative and that the entire poem was so short yet was themed and fully linked. We also found that you could write Renhai quickly, many of them often being completed within a day.

In December, 2007 we created a Renhai Studio Yahoo group for the purpose of incubating our ideas, conducting experiments, and sharing the results:


Since then, over 60 Renhai have been written by 15 different writers. I hope to share with you in the coming weeks and months some of our experiments and results as well as new Renhai Reflection creations that will be written during this time.

Next: The Anatomy of a Renhai


Janice Thomson said...

I like this idea Vaughn. It takes a bit of getting used to but in the end is a very satisfying read. I also like that one starts with the middle first and works either side from that starting point. As you say it is linked, themed and compacted to 8 lines.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

this has been so interesting!! I think I'll prent this and keep it for reading it closely - thank

John McDonald said...

yes most interesting

Masago said...

Janice: Thanks, hopefully if you like, you may get an opportunity to write one (or more). :-)

Andrew: Thank you. Please feel free to ask any questions.

John: Thanks.