HAI + GA PART II: RENKU-STYLE LINKING IN HAIGA
BY LINDA PAPANICOLAOU

How many of us remember our first haiga? We selected the perfect picture, applied some creative effects in Photoshop or whatever editing software we use, chose a font, placed the haiku, saved it and figured out how to upload and share. The feedback was good, comments supportive. Sometime later, we learned that the poem we'd so carefully crafted was a "caption ku", a text that merely told our readers what they could see for themselves. We quickly learned that poem and image should each be self-sufficient enough as an art work to able to stand alone, while in juxtaposition they find newer and fuller meaning in each other so there's "synergy"—a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

This used to puzzle me. If either the haiku or the picture could stand alone, wasn't it complete as a work of art? Why add more to it, then? Then there was the dictum that the relationship between image and poem should be "open" so that readers would participate in the completion of meaning through their own experience. I'd admire haiga by artists who could pair images and text that seemed to have nothing to do with each other and yet, ineffably there was a connection on some deeper level that opened the haiga to mood and emotion. How did they do that? Could it be learned?

It's called "scent linking", a term that comes from renku. While text linking in haiga isn't quite the same, it is generally acknowledged that haiga employs "renku style" linking (references: Ross). Why not, then, explore renku as a way of improving our haiga craft? In fact, a lot is known about the history of renku linking in Basho's day. Early texts by disciples have been studied in a dissertation by Herbert Jonsson, and summarized at Renku Home and Renku Reckoner (references: Jonsson, Kondô and Higginson, Carley). One can, for instance, link on word play, person, place, time, season, empathy, etc.

In our December 2007 issue, the Haiga Workshop was given to an exercise that I conducted at Writer's Forum, "HAI + GA: Exercises in Linking Text and Image." We looked at ways of linking and shifting as, for instance Jim Kacian analyzed them in a 2003 article in Haigaonline and then wrote for a selection of photographic images that Ray Rasmussen lent to the project. This second part of HAI+GA is a follow up and reflects the direction my thoughts have taken since then. This time I'll use my own work and go we'll be looking at some of those more specific renku style linking techniques, to see if and how they apply to haiga linking.

In fact, as I've discovered, this was a most useful exercise that went a long way towards taking the mystery out of scent linking. It also improved my understanding control over the craft

01

Haiga settings for a poem by Michael Rehling

02

Revamping an old haiga for "white space"

03 Renku style linking to a photo by Alex Papanicolaou

REFERENCES:

John Carley, "Link, Shift and Variety the forces which govern change in renku," the Renku Reckoner (http://www.renkureckoner.co.uk).

Jeanne Emrich. "Starlit Mountain—How White Space and Imagination Work in Haiga". Haigaonline 9-1, 2008.

Herbert Jonsson, "Haikai Poetics: Buson, Kitō and the Interpretation of Renku Poetry," dissertation, Stockholm University 2006, (available at Amazon.com or unbound as a free download at http://su.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:189883).

Jim Kacian, "Looking and Seeing:  How Haiga Works," Haigaonline II 2002.

Tadashi Shôkan Kondô and William J. Higginson, "Link and Shift: A Practical Guide to Renku Composition," Renku Home 2000-07 (http://haikai.2hweb.net/renku/index.html).

Linda Papanicolaou, "HAI + GA: Exercises in Linking Text and Image", Haigaonline, 8-2, 2007.

Bruce Ross, "Narratives of the Heart," World Haiku Review, vol 1, no 2, 2002 (reprinted at http://raysweb.net/haiku/essays.html.

Susumu Takiguchi, "HAIGA This Delicious Cocktail of Art, Poetry and Calligraphy," Haigaonline 3, 2003.