chained hay(na)ku, collaboration, kapwa, & winged cubicles

As I mentioned previously, an hay(na)ku a day is good for you. And soon, you will be able to get your daily dose. Just received my contributor’s copy of The Chained Hay(na)ku Project, curated by Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Ernesto Priego, and Eileen Tabios. The lovely, enigmatic cover is by Melissa “MiMi” Nolledo. There are many contributing groups to this volume. I collaborated with Michael A. Fink and Margo Ponce. I even (in a previous incarnation, name, and job) collaborated with some fellow-employees on an “editorial” hay(na)ku. Ah, if our daily work period had included writing a collaborative departmental hay(na)ku-a-day, would our cubicles have grown wings? But that’s the stuff of dreams.

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating in hay(na)ku, and now with a whole volume of collaborations, we can see just what’s possible with this form. The hay(na)ku is so well-adapted to this age of shifting authorship and identity; and in fact I think the hay(na)ku is often at its best when created with others.

The lengthy commentaries and conversations that are included give us some insight into the often pleasurable processes of collaboration—and also, in the Pilipino manner, the sharing self of kapwa. I’m thinking especially of something Ernesto Priego wrote (p.120):

At the beginning, I must say, I was afraid that the poem would feel disconnected or lacking articulation, as if it were only the result of random brainstorming. But then, also thanks to the conversations we had, the poem took a life of its own, also so to speak, and the most beautiful and uncanny thing, when I was reading it all out loud even before we had finished it, was realizing that I no longer remembered which parts I had written and what parts had been written by whom. This just “proves” or exemplifies, for me, hay(na)ku’s truly diasporic form, that it also means a way of thinking, it proposes a particular position in the world, an organization of material, but also a flow, literally a process, where it is almost unavoidable to feel that all things are interconnected.
— from “Four Skin Confessions.”