News has come that John Carley (born 1955) has died in England, on January 1. John had had a serious illness for four years, something he bore with good humour and fortitude. I feel privileged to have known John, even if only by email and through shared writing online.
His communication skills were second to none and he was one of the best teachers I have met. Thanks to him, my interest in renku is ongoing. He was also the best sabaki (renku leader) I have come across, patient, thoughtful and with the ability to see the whole poem even as we worked through its mysteries. His decisions were invariably sound and based in an expert knowledge of renku.
His love of linked verse saw him invent the four-verse yotsumono, and he celebrated the form with a collection written with several authors, myself included, in The Little Book of Yotsumonos (Darlington Richards, 2012). The same publisher is bringing out the hard-copy edition of The Renku Reckoner, John’s life work, and taken from his now-defunct website of the same name. Thanks to a pdf version being available earlier, Vanessa Proctor has reviewed TRR on Haiku NewZ.
John’s free e-book of haiku, nothing but the wind (Gean Tree Press, 2013), is available from the Calameo website or from The Living Haiku Anthology.
At my invitation John led a small team of us to write a 20-verse nijuin for entry into last year’s Einbond Award. We were up against a tight deadline and a trying period health-wise for him – he not only led us right through the poem but in his summing up said: “This is far and away the best poem I’ve ever been involved in. And all those thousands of words of renku theory are worth less than one good exemplar. If I have a style, this is it. Thank you. J”
No, thank you John … and we won! (Icing on the cake, as he reckoned he’d taken some risks with verse choices considering it was a competition entry, and an American competition at that.) Read Early Morning Heat.
There are several articles by John on Basho, renku, kigo and other topics available online (Haiku NewZ, A Hundred Gourds, etc) and I urge you to seek them out and read them.
I feel like I’ve lost a mentor, a guiding light and a dear friend. I can’t imagine what his family must be feeling (typical John, though, he arranged for an email to be sent to advise of his death) and my thoughts and good wishes are with them and with the others, like me, who mourn him.
new year’s day –
a single shaft of sunshine
across the penines
– Sandra Simpson
Sandra, nothing has disappeared. The website came down but all Gean Tree Press books and mags are still available on Calemeo. All books are and were, at the time you wrote this, hosted on the Living Haiku Anthology, as it they should be. Erstwhile indeed, you should have checked with a simple search or an email to me. Perhaps then your blog post would be taken differently, would it not. You have my email as you contributed to GTP mags.
As a matter of fact the PDF of ‘nothing but the wind’ was being distributed among the “haiku community” at will, thus making Nothing but The Wind worthless as a saleable book. In respect to John’s estate and his family, who I have been in communication with, I made sure that the file sharing by The Haiku Foundation was stopped. I made all Gean tree Press books with pefect flip PDFs free to read but not giveaways. Have a look at the back catalog and see how many have been republished using my formatting and PDF without even a note of thanks, mention or credit as first publication. I do not need to mention names of experimental haiku writers or those who spew out haibun. https://livinghaikuanthology.com/flipbook-library/books.html
Thanks for the update Colin, I have changed the text.