Calling all established poets, aspiring poets and closet poets:

Sachiko Murakami, founder of Project Rebuild and author of The Invisibility Exhibit and Rebuild,  is inviting the public to participate in a collaborative poem, excerpts of which will be displayed at the Powell Street Festival.

What is HENKŌ?

HENKŌ takes the renga – a Japanese collaborative poem – and opens it to 21st century possibilities.

The renga is a collaborative  form that has existed in Japan for many hundreds of years. Although the content and form of the renga vary widely, a common structure is based on alternates a 5/7/5 syllable stanza (which formed the basis of the haiku) with a 7/7 syllable stanza. The poem passes from person to person; each participant writes a stanza that responds to the previous stanza and the poem as a whole.

  • HENKŌ departs from the traditional form by allowing you to respond to any stanza, not just the last one written. The poem thus “branches” out rather than following a single, straight line.
  • Only a single branch is visible at any given time on the main page. Clicking back and forth through the poem will bring you to new branches.
  • The “branching” form allows for as many stanzas as there are voices at the festival, while the presentation (of a linear poem) allows the reader to focus in on one connection at a time.
  • You can see the the entire poem on the EVERY WAY page.

HENKŌ, or change, is the proposed theme of the renga – how PSF has changed, how the site has changed, how the neighbourhood has changed, how youhave changed since your first visit. Note that this theme is merely a suggestion, but I do suggest also that you keep in mind the stanza you are responding to and the poem as a whole when you add your own.

Selected stanzas will adorn the festival as postcards (with permission of the author), promoting the project and encouraging all PSF visitors to add their experiences to the poem. The project’s official launch will occur at the festival.

How to Participate

It’s pretty simple – Just click on a + next to a stanza, and add your own! If you are responding to a 5/7/5 stanza, you will be prompted to write a 7/7 stanza, and vice versa. If you like, you can add a note about yourself in the box marked “bio”. Your stanza will immediately be added to the poem.

I hope you will add your voice to HENKŌ, and tell your friends!

Should you have any questions, including technical difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact Sachiko Murakami at sachiko.murakami@gmail.com.

Add your stanza at http://www.powellstreethenko.ca.