Collaborative Poetry

Recently I tweeted the following haiku:

child denied play
snow softly patterns the floor
house without a roof

and tagged a friend, Sean (@SeanBlogonaut) who is another poet and writer. He is particularly fond of haiku, tanka and renga. He has given my wonderful insight into how haiku should be written in English (focus more on the imagery, the phrase and the fragment, rather than the counting of syllables. It is one of the vagaries of using a poetic form which has its origins in another language; the Japanese use sound units which are different to English syllables).

He added the following two lines to form a tanka:

in the courtyard of love
loneliness gathers in drifts

Creating a new poem

child denied play
snow softly patterns the floor
house without a roof
in the courtyard of love
loneliness gathers in drifts

I am used to collaborative writing and I want to further explore it with Sean, particularly as he raised the idea with me a couple of weeks back but we haven’t been able to catch up yet to write renga.

Collaborating with a new writing partner has benefits:

1. You learn new skills

A collaboration can be of equals, or a master and novice. In the case of writing renga with Sean, I would be the novice. But the collaboration is one of exploring a poetic form and learning more from each other.

2. The sum is greater than its parts

Or, two heads are better than one. New eyes, old heads, different perspectives, new ways of writing. You learn from another about your own writing from the writing of others. You learn how the other person constructs a phrase, sentence or image, and you get to explore why. It’s another skill/technique you can add to your own writer’s toolbox.

3. It’s fun

Yep. It’s fun. Creating a piece of work should be fun. It’s also hard work but the fun of creating something together, a shared community and body of work is a fantastic feeling.


Find a creative partner and create something new. It may only be a one-off piece of work or it may lead to a long term collaboration. Try it. Invite someone to participate.


6 responses to “Collaborative Poetry

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. Having not a musical bone in my body (unless you consider playing Ode to Joy on a recorder) I imagine this is what it feels like when musicians Jam.

  3. Great post, will follow. Thought you might like to read, even contribute to, my post

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