Sunday, 20 January 2013

How Renga Happen

How Ripples Happen. Larry Butler and Ratnadevi. Playspace Publications, 14 Garrioch Drive, Glasgow G20 8RS, £5

These nijuuin and ather renga are beautifully written and very well presented in a simple booklet, all of landscape/place in the west of Scotland. They make you want to visit Cuil in Ardnamurchan, Auchinrowan on Arran, and Culzean Castle, Ayr, far more effectively than the tourists board can manage. But they also bring the visits to you.

My favourite is the shorter iisute renga, back to back, made at Culzean Castle, a most extraordinary place on a cliff above sea, with a spacious semi-formal garden behind.

Even the difficulty of access is part of the picture:

absorbed writing this
we miss the last bus – too dark
now to walk the road

resting back to back we wait
for a friend to take us home.

The other two renga are equally fine, both winter stops over Christmas to New Year in successive years, quiet reflective times away from the crowds. more of the same (at Cuil), and how ripples happen (at Auchinrowan). Despite their similar wintry dates, in consecutive years, they are clearly distinguished experiences one from the other.

A mini renga, On the Way to Manchester, on the Pennine Express, is placed between these two winter poems, and noticeably engages more with the world:

no Foot and Mouth here –
war with Afghanistan on the front page,
we move to a warmer compartment.

Designed with a pleasing colour illustration by Ratnavdevi including winter pine trees and Buddhas, this makes a very acceptable souvenir of any of the locations, or a small present.

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