AHA On-line Books


Symbiotic Multi-genre Poetry

Jane Reichhold
Werner Reichhold



Table of Contents

Jane's works are in italic;
Werner's are in normal fonts.






















            One evening, at the end of this winter, Werner and I were sitting before the fire as he was telling me how he been going through the files of the various renga we had done together. Many of them were twenty years old now, but he was still pleased with our work.

The multi-genre symbiotic poetry works,
here with this Net-book introducing examples
composed between May and June 2008,
bring together efforts that started twenty years ago,
when Jane Reichhold with her magazine Mirrors offered
space to authors from all over the Americas and Europe
to try out collaborative writing techniques.
Her efforts triggered an avalanche of interest, and for the following years we saw more than ten
36-verse kasen-renga submitted per issue four times a year.
Attempts to find out what was waiting on the bottom of collaborative efforts, poets did catch on continuously
and the results spurred ever more people
to invest in such newly explored renga-strategies once
imported from Japan during the early 1970s.
In the visual arts already since the 1960s well-known as
collaborative produced installations,
the English speaking world got alerted,
and writers took off adding new ideas enlarging
former concepts considerably,
including all kinds of art work to the texts in a way
never seen before.

            Slowly we began to explore the idea of doing more collaborative poetry. With Werner’s interest in multi-genre poems, we realized we could not go back to ‘just’ writing renga, but wanted to explore different kinds of poetry linked together. The idea of linking prose and haiku or tanka was already well established but we wanted to try new ideas and combinations.
            Individually we had written ghazals, prose, renga, haiku and tanka and combinations of these forms. As we discussed how to do this, we realized that we did not want to work in a linear way – with one person’s poem following another’s. I got the idea of inserting the new poem into the middle of the starting poem.
It took awhile to understand how this would work. From the beginning we realized this idea made the work much more difficult because instead of merely linking to the previous poem one had to write a poem that at once linked at the start, to the preceding poem, but also at its end, have another link to the remainder of the starting poem.















When the air around writing together got lately a little thinner, the Reichholds now try to trickle some expensive oil
into the glimmers of the once hot fire to make it
flare up again. Let’s see who will have more success:
the oil-magnate or the artist and writers
encouraged to release another kick to their newer
for too long-resting spirits.

            By the next morning Werner had given me the beginning for “Into My Heart” and we were off and scheming. When he left me to link to “smell of musk” my mind stalled. Then I saw, in imagination, the haiga Werner and I had done some years ago which was stored on my computer. I dropped the graphic into the poem and it suddenly seemed finished and complete.
            When it came time to publish Lynx, we decided to put two of our new poems in the summer June, 2008, issue. We did not even need the favorable comments to spur us on to more poems. Soon it was too easy to put the graphic in the middle and we began to toss around ideas for having the graphics in the beginning. This was first accomplished in “Prize Poem” and then in “Bill’s Bills.”
            At the same time we started searching for other kinds of writing than just poetry. That is how we got the idea of having a newspaper story – a different kind of writing – to open the work. When we thought about a graphic for “Messages from Mars” Werner recalled he had some unused monoprints made from spills of ink that had some incredible images like cliffs or waves. They were great but we felt they needed some human figures – as newspaper reporting always demands – so we dusted off our collection of Dover books of illustrations and Werner began making collages. Two were perfect for the Mars story so we put one at the beginning of the newspaper article and the other photo at the end.

Now, at real-time, what is worth to be mentioned when we point here to our multi-genre symbiotic poetry?
Shortening a much longer process down
to the readers’ patience, there was something that resembles what is today called Plan A:
“Desires That Don’t Sleep Infinitely Desiring.”
This is short for “let’s break former collaborative techniques” according to the needs of our time. Find out tactics to illuminate the spirits waiting for a kind of poetry
that acts out expectancies readers have in mind. Setting up an interactively working gallery,
we tried to create a synthesis of spontaneity and calculation, simplicity and complexity- likewise appearing in every day’s situations. The sacred meets the ordinary – both not free of hurting each other’s substance. Former destinations got lost and reunite with their victims without any kind of insurance why or for how long. Events go out to the brink of disaster, eventually circulating in the realms of Chaos, simply say
“hello, we are actually here.”

            When we removed the barrier of using only poetry forms, the poems became plays or even cut-ups of other articles I was doing for the local newspaper. Thanks to our years reading John Bennett’s Lost and Found Times, making a graphic from our words was a comfortable thing to do. That’s how we got “Prize Poem.” Suddenly any form that involved pencil and paper was ripe for our using it. Thus we ended up with “Food for Thought” that started as a grocery list and then veered into some very strange territory.

Our texts seem to be a constitution of readable space, so we integrated a Plan B: being nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Therefore, the placing of text or verse,
demanding a poetically expressed solution – here in the book, in some cases vertically arranged –
we calculated changing roles between the partners as an adequate tactic. The verticality points to the daily non-linear appearance of shock and awe we had to cope with.
In our theater’s choreography, space subordinates events, characters, locations, destinations, climates.
Two-, three-, four- and five-liners pair with ghazal and free verse. Narratives are not too shy
to greet a dialogue with respect. Graphics set the scene and sceneries. There is no illustrative aspect coming with them.
They each are supposed to fight for their own territory –
win or lose – but we do offer them secretly logistically based support.

            From our years of formatting renga for Lynx we knew how helpful it was to put the work of one author into italics so the reader could identify the source without our having to put initials into the work. I got the italics throughout the book. -Also we made a conscious effort to vary the shape of the genres as we added them. If one of us used tanka or haiku the other person added ghazal, dialogue, or prose – most of the time. Sometimes, if we had material that fit the subject matter, we over-rode our own rules.
            We found we both had material that we had never used or could be used again in new ways. This work has sent us back into dusty files and also excited new poems we otherwise would never have written. We have discovered that many of the blind alleys were certain works led us have now turned into gold mines. The work has totally engaged us; making our days much more interesting and adventurous. We are excited about these poems and we hope you will enjoy the explorations as much as we have.


Jane Reichhold
Werner Reichhold
June 11, 2008
Gualala, CA



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