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A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

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| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 |


In Memoriam

photo TBD


John Carley 1955 – 2013


It hadn’t been unexpected, but still, it was a shock to receive the news. Our dear friend and mentor, John Carley, passed away on December 31st, 2013.

We had learned of John’s illness more than a year prior, although John himself seemed always to treat the matter as if it was of little consequence;

“They gave me 10 months to live in the spring of 2010. My aim is to get to the third anniversary of my diagnosis, write some crappy haiku about cherry blossom, and smoke a fag. If I’m still around then I’ll probably be on an oxygen bleed through the nose… should make for an interesting combination. Inhale. Boom. That’ll scatter the blossom a bit!”


Engaging and quick-witted as ever, John maintained a courageous stance, his acute focus on excellence in the composition of contemporary renku always to the fore. That really came as no surprise. Carley was known for his humor, boundless compassion, and an unrivaled knowledge of the intricacies of Basho's Shomon school haika no renga.

The man carried himself with such grace throughout his ordeal. At the same time his encouragement of good writing extended to all he worked with. His example had a profound effect on the development of this mutual endeavor of ours, leading the way for many renku poets to follow.

An iconoclast grounded firmly in tradition, he possessed a true sensitivity to Basho's definitive concepts of openness and innovation, persuasively adapting the old concepts to the modern. Leading scores of renku sessions with hundreds of poets, John commanded a mastery of inflection, cadence and phrasing, all the while evincing a gently subtle understanding.

John’s unique voice lent a freshness and inventiveness to collaborative poetry not to be found anywhere else. We will miss him dearly.

having lived awhile
in this hermitage
now to break away

news of our anthology. . .
isn’t life great

Basho, Kyorai — 'Summer Moon', translation by John Carley


— William Sorlien, renku editor  






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