Thursday, December 6th, 6:30 - 7:30pm. Book launch and talk 'Tsugigami: gathering the pieces', with local authors Connie Meester and Valorie Broadhurst. Come down to Valley Junction and enjoy Jingle in the Junction and catch this book event!
In 1994, Connie R Meester, Des Moines, and Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff, Dubuque, met on the first night of a college-level haiku writing class at Loras College in Dubuque. The two became friends and began writing a collaborative form of linked haiku called rengay. The form was new at the time and one of their first efforts earned them First Place in the Haiku Poets of Northern California Inaugural International Rengay Contest in 1995. They have continued to write both solo and in partnership ever since, with 20 of their collaborative pieces having been published by literary journals here and abroad.
Red Moon Press, of Winchester, Virginia, recently announced that they have published a collection of the writers’ work entitled Tsugigami: gathering the pieces. The volume is a selection of their linked verse spanning the remarkable 24-year partnership. Considered pioneers in this unique poetic form, Meester and Woerdehoff explore a range in their work from the mundane to the majestic. Grounded in a sense of place and mindful of the human relationship to nature, together they explore love, loss, family and transitions; from childhood memories and current events, to ghosts and dreams.
Bill Pauly, Dubuque, author of Wind the Clock by Bittersweet retired Loras College faculty member, said of the volume, “Enter the pages of Tsugigami and you will join an encyclopedic tour lovingly guided through landscapes rich with real imagery and vivid imaginings, touches of tender friendship, occasional pathos and joy, mature insights, sensory and sensual episodes, skillful weavings of recurring motifs, and uplifting harmonies that seem to echo the music of the spheres. All in all, chances are you will be captivated . . .”
Claire Everett, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, founder and editor of Skylark tanka, literary journal has described the collection in these terms, “The whole concept of the book is by turns exquisite and heart-rending ... By the end of Tsugigami I felt as much a part of the collage as the hands that so deftly crafted it.”
In describing Tsugigami, Jennifer Hambrick, Columbus, Ohio, author of Unscathed, said, “Grief observed as the lost way home. Rage expressed in pointillistic verbal shards. Sex suggested in the sensuality of music. The relentless return of unwanted pounds of flesh. The emotional fault lines (in every sense) of divorce. The angst of aging. These are some of the raw materials that layer the haiku-inspired linked poems in Tsugigami with deep, at times devastating, meaning distilled from the authors’ quarter-century-long friendship. You will want to spend some quality time with these poems — because they know you . . .”
The title of the 80-page book is drawn from a type of Japanese paper made using a collage process that was crafted for the writing of poetry beginning in the 9th century CE. Juxtaposed throughout the collection are photos of original art created by the poets on paper handmade by Meester.
Meester lived most of her adult life in Dubuque where she raised her family. She has been writing both long and short poems since the mid-‘80s. Her solo work is published in numerous journals and she has earned a dozen awards for rengay, haiku, senryu, and tanka. She now resides with her life partner, Jim Giles.
Woerdehoff has been writing long and short poetry, as well as essays, for nearly 40 years. Over 250 of her pieces have appeared in journals and anthologies. Her work is included in two outdoor haiku paths and has garnered awards in national and international competition. She lives with husband Tom Woerdehoff.
Haiku, originating in Japan, is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables. The most common technique is juxtaposing two images or ideas. Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. Senryu is structurally similar to haiku, but highlights the foibles of human nature, often in a humorous or satiric way.
The short linked verse poems in this collection are written in a style that links haiku and/or senryu. The style, rengay, is a collaborative six-verse linked thematic poem written by two or three poets alternating three-line and two-line haiku/senryu stanzas in a pattern. California poet Garry Gay invented this linked verse alternative to a more traditional Japanese form in 1992.
Tsugigami will be available at Artisan Gallery 218 through the holidays for $25 each.