Tynepark Resource Centre, Haddington, is a day centre for people recovering from Mental Health problems. The centre offers a selection of activities, which people can join. There is a large ex-Manse with a lot of space in it and a newer annexe with a high tech drama room and a bright activity room where art, crafts, cooking and other activities take place.
This year an open day was organised to coincide with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. The programme of activities included, Shiatsu exercises, massage, a relaxation session, drama, music and poetry.
One of the morning sessions was devoted to a form of Japanese poetry called a Renga. This sort of poem has the following characteristics:
• It is usually written by more than one person, there can be as many as you want.
• The process of writing the poem is as important as the poem which results at the end.
• It can be written in one session.
• The number of verses or stanzas can vary. The ‘Kasen’ renga is popular and uses 36 stanzas.
• Each verse should be inspired in some way by the one that has gone before it. However, it should not be too obvious a link. The subject matter should leap from one stanza to the next.
• Verses are in the present tense, but avoid using ‘I’ or ‘we.’
• Verses are very direct and use as few words as possible to create a vivid image. The verses don’t speak directly of feelings but the image conveys the emotions and feelings of the poet.
• The leader writes the first stanza and this is called the ‘hokku’.
• Each stanza alternates between three and two lines.
Seven people took part in writing the Renga and the feedback at the end was that people enjoyed the session which promoted a sense of sharing
Here is the TYNEPARK RENGA written by Ray, Harry, Duncan, Andrew, Rick, Karen and Anne.