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Moira Richards

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Short Story Day Africa 2013: The Interview

1. Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?

I <3 writing – paid my dues minuting meetings which is a seriously fun way of whiling away that sorta time.

2. What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).

The topmost poetry collection on my review pile and yes, I’ll enjoy it otherwise I’ll not read it. Life being too short & etc...

3. Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

No, but they sometimes crash a car into a tree to illustrate the depreciation of fixed assets.

4. If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?

Ms Zansi! She owns a bakery and gets to do cool stuff like calculate depreciation in the fixed assets chapter, and reconcile her creditors accounts, calculate her VAT, cost her bread in the various other chapters. She also manages to almost get herself involved in a price-fixing scandal but luckily she’s completed the chapter on business ethics and is saved. Here she is, drawn by Wouter de Witt, reminding *you* of the importance of business ethics:

5. Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?

Mr Zanzi, Ms Zansi’s partner in the partnerships chapter. Mr Zanzi bakes great pies but is rather feckless and draws lotsa cash from the business, and lotsa baked goods to take to his old mother for the funeral of her best friend. And he takes lots of time off from the shop to take his old mother visting (in the partnership bakkie, with partnership petrol, and despite not having a drivers licence).

6. Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?

Oy, so many more fun things to do when drunk…

7. If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?

Like imagination? That’s really cool..

8. Our adult competition theme is Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?

Lots of bread and pies in Clever Accounting Grade 11. Just about every accounting concept can be cooked.

9. What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?

Probably #9 since it obliges me to admit I’ve never been interviewed before.

10. If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?

Jane Austen

11. If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?

That email I realised, as I hit send, was sooo destined for the wrong addy :-(

12. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?


13. If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?

Why bother.

14. What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?

Who’s that again?

15. What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?

Writing to deadline when it’s 40◦ and perspiration’s likely to short out the laptop.

16. Have you ever written naked?

As in #6

17. Does writing sex scenes make you blush?


18. Who would play you in the film of your life?

Bilbo Baggins

19. If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?

#6 *blush* *blush*

20. What do you consider your best piece of work to date?

That one they wouldn’t publish.

21. What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?

#16 *blush* *blush* *blush*

The Big Poetry Giveaway!

April is National Poetry Month and the Big Poetry Giveaway is here!

The BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY is a giveaway of free poetry books; one of our own and one of our favourite collections by another poet.

Because I am co-editor of the annual Journal of Renga & Renku literary journal, I’m also giving away a free copy of Issue 1, 2 or 3. Three chances to win great poetry!

The basics are:

  • You leave a comment on this post between April 1 and April 29 saying which book you’d like to win and why.
  • I choose a winner for each book at the end of April.

The three amazing books up for grabs are:


Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po LISTSERV

  edited by Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, Lesley Wheeler & others

LETTERS TO THE WORLD is the first anthology of its   kind—a feminist collaboration born from The Discussion of   Women’s Poetry Listserv (Wom-po), a vibrant, inclusive electronic community founded in 1997 by Annie Finch. With an introduction by D’Arcy Randall and brief essays by the poets themselves reflecting on the history and spirit of the listserv, the book presents a rich array of viewpoints, and poems ranging from sonnets to innovative forms. 259 contributors, 19 countries, 5 continents


The Plenitude of Emptiness: collected haibun

by Hortensia Anderson

Life, no matter how challenging, is a source of grace, inspiration, sensuality and wry humor in Hortensia Anderson’s creative writing. Her haibun are executed in brief, delicate brushstrokes that skillfully weave the ethereal and wistful through the harsh realities of life. A leitmotiv of loss being transcended by beauty reverberates through her work. - Maria Steyn


Journal of Renga & Renku

The only English language print journal devoted entirely to the 1000-year-old genre of renga/renku (listed with the Bibliography of Asian Studies and the MLA International Bibliography).


So leave a comment! And win books! And visit Susan Rich’s site to look for more blogs to visit!

Little Book about Big Things

I began this month’s essay with my profession that poetry is a family. I love that John Carley, called on his poet-relatives in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as his home country, the UK, and that his publisher is based in Ireland and South Africa!

Neal Whitman’s full review of the latest Darlington Richards publication, the Little Book of Yotsumonos, here:

New Pages review of Journal of Renga & Renku

“… the journal demonstrates that, high art or not, the fun has never gone out of linked verse. Some is written over months by mail or email. Some is composed in sign language, or in all-day and all-night sessions surrounded by drink and hubbub. While most is collaborative, some practitioners write alone, just themselves and their alter egos. Some stanzas are “contributed” by folks like Basho, Shakespeare, or Rachel Carson.”

the Little Book of Yotsumonos

Darlington Richards is pleased to announce the publiation of the Little Book of Yotsumonos.

John Carley’s recently-designed four-verse renku format is represented by 60 poems, wherein Carley collaborates with well-known haikai poets, Hortensia Anderson, Lorin Ford, Carole MacRury, Sandra Simpson, William Sorlien and Sheila Windsor, and also introduces the form.

“I have always been impressed by John Carley’s knowledge of Japanese linked verse… It is my sincere hope that this new form of linked verse will take root.” -Nobuyuki Yuasa, Professor Emeritus, Hiroshima University, and translator of Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Penguin Classics, 1966).

“the Little Book of Yotsumonos opens up a world of poetic possibility, sourced by the old, both the Chinese and Japanese poetic traditions, yet fresh and original… I suspect few will be able to read this book without wanting to try and compose a yotsumono themselves.” -Sonja Arntzen, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto, and translator of The Kagero Diary and Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology.


Call for content: poetry, translations, essays…

Darlington Richards Press is ready to begin accepting offers of content for the third issue of our Journal of Renga & Renku, which is now listed with the Bibliography of Asian Studies and the MLA International Bibliography. The journal will be:

1. published early 2013

2. available in hardcopy only

3. available for secure online purchase using Paypal

We’re looking for a variety of content along the lines of:

1. academic/polemic articles on any aspects of the genre

2. translations of old renga and renku

3. news of renku groups and happenings

4. book articles/reviews

5. letters responding to the contents of previous issues, or on any relevant topic

6. and of course, a showcase of current examples of the genre:

a) in English

b) in any other language, accompanied by an English translation

c) previously published or not (just let us have details of prior publication so we can acknowledge properly)

d) simultaneous offers are fine too, again provided you advise us immediately of acceptance, for purposes of acknowledgement

e) in any of the standard forms: kasen, triparshva, nijûin, jûnichô, shisan, rokku, hyakuin, imachi, yotsumono, etc.

f) in any explorations of the above forms in terms of experimentation with one-line, zip, 5/7/5 or other fixed counts, and even rhyme

g) solo and group work

h) with (preferably) or without notes/reflections on the poem/process from sabaki or renju or both

i) Please include the following text in all poetry submissions: “I hereby confirm that I have obtained consent from all of the participating poets to offer this poem for publication by JRR”

7. We are also holding a contest, the winning poem to appear in JRR3; click here for details:

8. We’re open to discussing content ideas we’ve not covered above, so please write

9. All communications will be acknowledged within two weeks

10. Closing date for sending content: October 1, 2012

11. We are regretfully unable to pay contributors for content at this stage

To gain an idea of the sort of content that interests the editors, leaf through the previews of our previous issues (or, better still, buy them) at

Please send all contributions and other communications to (RengaRenku AT gmail DOT com)

We look forward to hearing from you.

Norman Darlington
Moira Richards
Journal of Renga & Renku

Journal of Renga & Renku, poetry contest 2012

judged by Dr Chris Drake, long-time professor of Japanese literature at Atomi University in Japan. Details below:

Entry fee: None

Deadline: 1 October 2012


1. The winning poem will be published, together with a detailed critique, in the 2013 issue of Journal of Renga & Renku. All entries will be considered as content for inclusion in the journal.

2. A small (and yet to be selected) prize will be sent by way of congratulation to the sabaki or one designated participant of the winning poem.


1. Only renku in the kasen form are eligible for this contest

2. There is no limit on the number of entries you may send

3. Previously published kasen are also eligible for the contest

4. Kasen that include verses written by the contest judge or editors of JRR, or led by them, are NOT eligible for this contest

Entry procedure

The leader or sabaki of the poem is designated the contest entrant and should do the following:

1. Send a clean copy of the poem (stripped of initials, schema notes, renju’s names etc.) as a Word (or RTF) document attachment to (RengaRenku AT gmail DOT com)

2. Mark the subject line: Kasen contest/name of poem/name of sabaki, e.g. Kasen contest/October’s Moon/Moira Richards

3. In the body of the email, paste the following text:

I hereby confirm that I have obtained consent from all of the participating poets to enter this poem in the 2012 JRR Renku Contest, and to offer it for publication by JRR.

4. There is no need to list the names or number of poets who contributed to the poem. We’ll contact you later for this information if we decide to publish.

Judging criteria

Dr Drake will look for:

1. Evidence of serious literary intent and imaginative daring.

2. Evidence of familiarity with renku and with the kasen form. Sites such as are good places for review or for gaining basic knowledge, and translations of traditional kasen as well as EL kasen are recommended.

3. Success in achieving multivalent linking. Above all, verses must work as 1) a single verse and also as a new, transformed verse in relation to 2) the previous verse and 3) the following verse. Readers need be able to concretely feel the way identical words have different nuances or mean different things in relation to different verses.

4. Success in using moon, blossom, seasonal, love, and other non-seasonal verses to create an overall sequence rhythm and tone. Variations for standard images will be accepted. The moon, for example, may be replaced by other celestial objects if the change is stated in a note.

5. Success in creating an introduction in verses 1-6, full-bodied, dynamic development in 7–30, and a smooth, quick return to the material world in 31-36.

6. A kasen is long enough to create its own world. If successful, it affects the way a reader returns to and experiences his or her own daily world.

7. Traditional monotheme kasen on a single topic (blossoms, love, Amida Buddha, etc.) will be accepted, though monotony must be avoided.

8. Both group and solo (dokugin) kasen will be accepted. Solo kasen should show evidence of the writer’s ability to hear otherness in her or his own voices.

Contest judge

Chris Drake will judge this contest and introduces himself here:

“I was born in Tennessee in the U.S. in 1947. I got a PhD in Japanese literature from Harvard and taught Japanese literature and comparative literature at Atomi University in Japan for nearly three decades before retiring. My classes included renku appreciation and writing for Japanese students. I’ve published annotated translations of both kasen and hundred-verse hyakuin by Japanese haikai poets of the 17th, 18th, and 20th centuries, including a translation of a kasen by Bashō and his followers in JRR2. I’m now completing an annotated translation of Saikaku’s 1675 solo thousand-verse haikai requiem for his wife. I write renku both in English and in Japanese and have participated in several kasen sequences in Japanese judged by the late Higashi Meiga (Akimasa).”

Why a one-form renku contest?

Every JRR contest will feature a different form of the genre, in order to

a) promote appreciation of the distinctive features of the various forms of the genre and how they can be employed to different ends in the writing of poems, and

b) encourage poets to explore more fully the possibilities of one form, and to appreciate what others do with it.

The Kasen

The name Kasen means ‘Poetic Immortals’ and refers to the Chinese and Japanese practice of creating ideal groups of thirty six artistic forbears. Prior to the establishment of the Basho school formalised linked verse was generally written as one hundred or fifty verse sequences. By the time of Basho’s death the majority of haikai sequences were Kasen.

Though he is known as the father of haiku the Kasen renku and haibun [mixed poetry and prose] were Matsuo Basho’s preferred vehicles for expression. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Kasen is rather good.

Seasons recur. [The major seasons of spring and autumn] may appear for up to five verses in a row. There are two spring blossom verses. There are three moon verses, two of which are generally autumn. Love appears as a fixed topic twice, potentially for an extended run. The structure of the Kasen clearly demonstrates that fine writing has more to do with periodicity and interlocking cycles, with tonal control, evolution and recontextualisation.

Without clear vision and leadership the twelve verses of a development side can rapidly become amorphous. The Kasen too takes time to complete. But the Kasen was and remains essential to the development of all aspects of excellence in renku. A person who limits themselves always to the shorter contemporary forms is unlikely to develop the highest level of artistry that the genre permits.
—John Carley, Renku Reckoner

Want to learn more about renku and kasen?

1. Lots of great reading matter, including information about the kasen form, from John Carley here:

and excellent material from the late Bill Higginson here:

2. Lots of space to learn, write and meet other renku enthusiasts at The Renku Group here:

Moira Richards
Norman Darlington
Darlington Richards Press

The Little Book of Yotsumonos

Coming soon from Darlington Richards Press!

The Little Book of Yotsumonos
by John E. Carley with six other poets

Carley is well known for his ground-breaking and ongoing work in the practice and understanding of renga/renku outside of Japan. He has made valuable and topical contributions to current and previous issues of Journal of Renga & Renku as well as to various internet journals, and his Renku Reckoner website is a well-thumbed resource for poets working in the genre.

Darlington Richards Press

South Africa based literary journal

devoted entirely to the 1000-year-old genre of renga/renku – Journal of Renga & Renku (listed with the Bibliography of
Asian Studies and the MLA International Bibliography).

Darlington Richards Press is delighted to announce that Journal of Renga & Renku, Issue 2, is now available

278 pages of Poetry, Essays, Translations and Commentaries – that’s almost 100 pages more than our last issue – Issue 2 of Journal of Renga & Renku is on sale now. Just $19.95 for the first month before we revert to the cover price of $25.

This issue includes:

Academic essays from Chris Drake, H. Mack Horton, John Carley, Jeremy Robinson, Charles Tomlinson, Dylan McGee, Jeffrey Angles and Molly Vallor.

A solo shisan by Nobuyuki Yuasa that marks the anniversary of the devastating tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan one year ago.

47 poems including 30 shisan, and the results and judge’s commentary of the 2011 JRR renku contest adjudged by Eiko
Yachimoto, in which four poems placed, four received Honourable Mentions, and ten more were critiqued/appreciated in part.

And much more…

PREVIEW the Table of Contents and Editorial here:


Journal of Renga & Renku Issue 2

is very nearly ready to roll! A listing of the academics and poets who have contributed to JRR2 as voorsmaakie.