A Word from Garry Gay

First published in Tandem 1:1, April 2021, pages 5–6, to introduce the first issue of the very first rengay journal to be published in English.

by Garry Gay


Tandem has come onto the poetic scene at an amazing moment in time.

Rengay is about to turn 30 years old next year. It has grown and evolved and matured and has been embraced and enjoyed by countless writers in numerous countries. Rengay is written now in many different languages. Here, in Tandem, we can see these partnerships and collaborations across borders and across oceans. A once new poetic form has now reached wide acceptance. No longer does the form have to prove itself. In the early days of writing rengay, most of the time, before the title of the poem would be the name of the form—rengay. Because no one knew yet what it was. As time went by, the standard pattern of the form and the position of the writers became clear to the literary public: this was indeed a rengay and it no longer needed to wear a notification of what you were about to read. Rengay had come of age. As time went by, and more and more writers of the haiku community began to write them and share them, too few outlets existed to showcase and publish the creative works of these many talented poets.

Rengay, a different kind of poetry. A social creative endeavor, the form captures the quality of writing haiku, has the connection of writing renku, as well as working in a true collaborative partnership. Each poet crafts his/her own verse, then the verses from all partners, into a finished poetic creation. It’s a thematic- focused poetic form.

These poems are fun to write. As simple as that. There is great joy in sharing your work with a creative partner, forming a connection that a single haiku alone can’t give you. More than a partnership, it becomes a relationship. You are building a friendship and a kinship with someone who has already shared in your joy of writing haiku, and now you have someone you can talk with about the verses and share your ideas and thoughts about how the verses connect or flow through an agreed-upon theme. The poem is yours—you make it with the skill of an experienced haiku poet. You expand it with the clever way you weave the connecting verses into the overall poem, and like a single haiku with the subtle suggestions of time and place, and of the here and now. The juxtaposition now expands from just between three lines to six different verses. There is great joy in naming the poem as you again get to tease the reader. How does the title tell you so much about what might go on in the overall poem? Not just a title for the sake of having a title, it’s more of a clue to unlocking what the poem is all about. Read the title again! Did you see that it gave you a hint as to where the verses were going?

Rengay is very accessible. They can even be playful, depending on the theme. Did you notice that there was maybe even a second theme quietly woven throughout the poem? Find it—it’s there.

Rengay’s acceptance worldwide shows that there was a need for such a thematic form of poetry. And Tandem shows that there is a need for a special place to put them. Three cheers to the three editors of Tandem!