marlene mountain
reviews of mm


trio of wrens

by Dennis H. Dutton

A Trio of Wrens: A pun in the title to start things rolling: 'Wren‚' the bird
species, described thus in Peterson's A Field Guide to Western Birds: 'Most
are energetic; some are gifted songsters': 'ren' from the Japanese for
'link' or 'to gather,' as in renku, the collaborative, linked poetry form popular in Japan since early medieval times.

These three wrens--Kris Kondo, Marlene Mountain and Francine Porad--are firmly
established haiku poets, with a collective career in the genre of more than
100 years. They are also deeply knowledgeable about renku, although the 136
six-line 'rens' in this book are deliberately far removed in many ways from
the rule-laden traditional renku of Japan.

Each of the poets is indeed energetic--this becomes clear with the first
stroke in the book--and each poet is also a gifted songster (this is also soon
made clear). Together, the co-authors make a music sometimes subtle,
sometimes wild, sometimes hilarious, sometimes deeply poignant.

Sometimes, too, the music is jarring, unmelodious, silly; some of the jokes
may fall flat or statement-verses seem foolish. These are confessional poems
in that way: the poets are human; they let it all hang out--take it or leave
it; what you see is what you get.

The rens, the conversations in this collection--please note the 'verse' in
the word--aren't unlike what might be said by neighbors gathering for coffee
in the morning (although in fact they were said by e-mail in cyberspace).
These three poets are intimate friends, and here they share their innermost
thoughts and feelings, in an old form made very new.

Lucky us, to be able to eavesdrop.


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