International Festival Week at Kapiolani Community College.

Today we gave a reading at KCC where Juliet Kono, one of the renshi poets, also read from her novel, Anshu. It was an attentive group of students who were curious about the process of writing a renshi. Many wondered whether we communicated with each other, plotting out our themes. Of course, this wasn’t so. In fact, as you know, we hadn’t really met as a group, physically until June, or was it May. In any case, the students seemed interested to find out that we just wanted to get the poem written, given that we had only a week to write our “masterpiece.” Do it! was our motto. However, one student asked whether we had tried to imitate the rhythms of the other poems. What an interesting question! No, none of us seemed to have done that, though we all admitted to having read our poems out loud to ourselves before we posted them, just to make sure that they felt right.

The students seemed surprised that there were unintended recurring themes without our preplanning, as if our collaboration had some kind of mystic quality because it all seemed to fit. Now that I think about it, it’s true. The whole renshi seems to hold together though our voices are so different. We were able to write poems we would never have written without the renshi. We were so lucky that collaboration did not stifle, in fact let bloom, our selves.

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