Shisan – The Dolphin Circle

MARCH 2003

 WHCessay – Shisan: The Anatomy of a Renku Sequen

Shisan: The Dolphin Circles: Tomegaki
by Eiko Yachimoto

A sabaki is expected to ensure a good time together and the inclusion of a verse(s) characteristic of each poet into a renku. I am very confident that I succeeded in the latter. The hokku and the number 6 verse with “mi corazon” cannot be written by any other except John Snyder. Kirsty Karkow breathes here with her stunning moon verse and the old Ford that “grinds“. The renkujin, John Carley proved himself by his love verse and the ‘perfection’ in the ageku (the verse that finishes up a renku). I have a considerable reservation in judging my performance in regards to the former. For one thing I wrote too many verses as a sabaki. For another I hastened to complete the shisan to the point that we lost that shared time of celebrating the completion….

When I decided on our hokku, I was not conscious how our hokku, the Dolphin verse, would get hold of the whole picture. Collaborating on the internet day to day, each of us literally sensed the circling of this universe through the time difference between England, Maine, Texas and Japan. That was neat, but more happened in regards to the uncanny prediction capacity of a renku… For its sparkling beauty, dew, I believe, often works as a symbol of freshness and youth in Western poetry. I had to realize as if anew that “dew”, an autumn kigo, is also associated with the frailty of lives in the long tradition of Japanese poetry with one dew corresponding to one life. During the two weeks time that was cut out by this shisan we were informed of that terrible act that happened in a theatre in Russia. The number 9 verse on Senator Paul Wellstone must be meant to be dedicated also to all the dew that dropped to the ground …..

Through this collaboration I started to see Shisan as a renku form in more luminous light. It seems you can not write your link in the same singing way as you do in Kasen. Shisan proceeds forward like a series of precision cut up scenes in an avant-garde movie. All because writing a renku is to create the world we live together in. I have hard time getting rid of the nagging image of a bullring, a perfect circle, emerging in a cluttered Spanish town facing the bluest ocean. This comparison between a place where people appreciate the marrow of life in sheer excitement and a session in which the poets collaborate to give birth to another world in only 12 verses.

Is reading a completed renku a secondary confirmation after the festival, the live show? Yes and No you might answer. If this shisan deserves to be called poetry, it must stand the test of time and if for that reason alone, we have to record it.

I conclude this tomegaki by quoting Dylan Thomas: “The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.”

Shisan: The Dolphin Circles
led by eiko yachimoto
started 14 October, 2002
completed 29 October, 2002

a sea of dew–
the Dolphin circles
past my telescope………………….jrs

moonstruck, I watch
the seventh wave unfolding……….kk

syncopating with
simmering red rice
a baby breathing……………………ey


in the spider’s web
a fluff of snow vibrates…………….jec

entwined, we knew
the jewelled mountain
for our own………………………….jec/kk

mi corazón scrubbing bathrooms
for the rich………………………….jrs


spring fever
the old Ford grinds steadily
toward Mexico……………………..kk

…hazy horizon
are those northbound monarchs?.ey

I write a poem:
Paul Wellstone died today………..jrs


a copper coin flattened
by the train that passed………….kk

white lines
of an evening rain-shower
draw the board’s attention………ey

a perfect lily
placed before the Virgin………….jec

verses contributed by
john carley
kirsty karkow
john r. snyder

eiko yachimoto

composed on The Renkujin Palace

Romaji Version:

Shisan: Iruka-za

14 Oct, 2002 – 29 Oct, 2002 led by eiko yachimoto

tsuyu no umi(5) ..iruka no ten ni(7) ..nanchu^su(5)…..John Snyder

tsuki ni mi i rare(7) ..jitto miru nami(7) .. .. Kirsty Kawkow

midorigo to(5) ..gohan futsufutsu(7) ..iki o shite(5) .. ..Eiko Yachimoto

funwari furue(7) ..kumo no su no yuki(7) .. ..John Carley

maguau futari(7) ..ho^seki no yama(7) ..shirimashita(7) .. ..JC

yatoware migaku(7) ..hitono basutabu(7) .. ..JS

haru no netsu(5)^do gata pishi(7) ..Mexico e(5) .. ..KK

mona^ku cho^ ka(7) ..chihei kasumeri(7) .. ..EY

Paul* shisu(5) ..waga kokoro sake(7) ..shi o kizamu(5) .. ..JS

ressha tu^ka shi(7)^ru no do^ka(7) .. ..KK

kaigibito(5) ..mado no haku-u ni(7) o torare(5) .. ..EY

mimae ni kaoru(7) ..junketsu no yuri(7) .. ..JC

* excerpt from John Snyder’s note on ‘Paul’ who died in a plane-crash in Minnesota: Paul Wellstone was one of the few people left in American government who consistently placed conscience and ethics above short-term political gain. He was a scholar, a man of peace, a man of conscience, a man of the people.



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