Welcome to our Spring 2016 issue:"Azalea Blossom"
Practitioners of modern haiga may choose to draw or paint their images using traditional means, and then scan them for online presentation. They may choose to use a digital photograph, with or without artistic enhancement in Photoshop or another software package. Or they may choose to create a digital image from scratch using one or more of the many digital art apps that are now available. This issue of Haigaonline includes images in all of the above categories. But that's just half of it.
If any thing, it's the text that is more important. As Alexis Rotella once said to me, the haiku is what the haiga hangs on. Most often, of course, the text is a haiku, though the haiga sections in prominent haiku publications often include senryu, tanka, short haibun or other kinds of poems. What interests me is that using other kinds of poems—even tanka—link differently to images, in ways that can be successful on their own terms but are not, strictly speaking, haiga.
Sometimes you learn more about what something is by practicing what it isn't. I've been giving the past several issues of Haigaonline to investigating text/image interrelationships. If you've been following us, you'll have noticed the challenges and features devoted to concrete poems, found haiku and ekphrasis. In this issue we have more installments on the project, most notably Ron C. Moss's "Red Seal" series with its kanji graphics, and the Poem this Painting Challenge. In this context, we invite you to think about text/ image relationships in Susan Constable's and Llaesa North's collaborative photo haiga, in Anita Virgil's "Editor's Choice" pairing of a haiku by John Stevenson with photograph by Lisa Pitcher, and in Emily Romano's solo works. Does the process by which the haiga came into being color the reading?
Knowing that azalea (躑躅, tsutsuji) is a kigo for late spring, I began to search for old master haiku with this season reference and indeed found wonderful examples by Buson, Issa and Shiki. Still, it was Basho's that seemed most to speak to the painting.
In 1690 he also wrote "The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling", his famous haibun on age and the pleasures of solitude in a hut by Lake Biwa where he stayed from late spring into summer that year. Though Burton Watson's translation is more commonly cited, I'm also attracted to Donald Keene's which calls the it "the Unreal Dwelling". "It was the beginning of the fourth moon when I arrived, and the azaleas were still blossoming. Mountain wisteria hung on the pines. Cuckoos frequently few past, and there were visits from the swallows. . . "
"Yet isn't it true that there's no place that's not an unreal dwelling," he reasons, then closes with a haiku about a Japanese stone oak:
ONE FINAL NOTE: I'll be gone for much of the summer and we won't be doing our usual Gallery. See you for the fall issue, when we'll be unveiling a new long-term project and our Challenge will be "Comfort Food". Click on the left bar for instructions on submitting.