by Elizabeth St Jacques ©1996
(revised March 2001)
|While linking in certain forms
of ancient Korean poetry is well recorded, linked sijo are extremely rare.
With changing times and western poets taking sijo to their hearts, this
lovely poetry form is proving to lend itself perfectly to linking.
Since the early 1990s, Dr. Larry Gross and I have promoted sijo to poets in the West, establishing guidelines for sijo in the English language. Therefore, we experimented with linked sijo, borrowing the basic concept from Japanese renga. Two works of linked sijo written by Dr. Gross and myself, published in the Spring 1996 issue of the printed journal, SIJO WEST, are – to our knowledge – the first by western poets. To our delight, other poets are now writing linked sijo. Indications are that linked sijo will thrive.
A Japanese renga, usually comprised of 36 linked poems of three and two lines, may be written by one author or a number of poets. Because each sijo consists of 3 long lines, often divided into couplets to accommodate western publishers, thereby demanding more printed space, six sijo in a linked work seems adequate. In this case, a linked sijo may be written by one or up to three poets. Here how it works:
Poet #1 writes a sijo to which the second poet's sijo links in some way to the first. Poet #1 writes another sijo that links to the second poem, and so on for a total of six sijo. To link, choose an image, color, sound, sensation, sentiment or whatever from the newest sijo and respond without a link that is not too obvious. Each link connects only with the preceding sijo, never with earlier or later sijo.
It is important that each sijo stands by itself and, like Japanese renga, each link shifts in a new direction. This takes us on a fascinating and surprising journey that makes linked poetry so unique (and challenging).
Because linked sijo consists of a group of poems – though subject matter of each poem is different and unrelated, therefore, it has no theme – a title is necessary. Unlike Japanese renga, do not to lift a phrase from a link for the title. Instead, look for a common thread that runs through the work and choose a poetic title that best reflects that thread.
In the following example, can
you see how each sijo links?
ALL THE DIFFERENCE
by Larry Gross & Elizabeth St Jacques
I pick up that tattered broom
THE SIJO SEQUENCE
While a sequence and linked sijo have similar traits, important differences in a sequence are:
a) each sijo in a sequence focuses on an overall theme
Surprise! That's it. (And you
expected a long list, didn't you?) Now for an example:
PURSUIT OF DREAMS
by Elizabeth St Jacques
His world is steel and
open hearths coke gas stench and hot ingots;
Sour sweat drips from
his body, eyes burn red and lungs turn black;
Some nights he sprawls
upon cool grass to gaze at the universe;
He carries stars into
his dreams dances through the galaxy.
(this sequence is a slightly revised version since it first appeared here)
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