It has been three years now since I entered the online world of haiku and haiga—not long in comparison to many of the artists who fill this issue, but certainly one of the most busy and enjoyable parts of my life.
I had done little creative writing since high school. What set me on this path was my teaching. I was preparing a lesson on leaf printing for a class of fifth graders and had a lesson plan that directed me to have the kids write haiku for their leaf prints. Haiku? Right! We all know what haiku is—17 syllables in three lines of 5/7/5, and something about fall. How hard can that be? The teacher's model that I mocked up was my first haiga, though I didn't know that's what it was called. I don't even have it anymore. Needless to say, the results were mediocre and I realized that I'd have to learn a lot more if I ever wanted to try the lesson again.
I began my haiku studies as a list-lurker, trying to figure out who was who and what was what. I quickly discovered an'ya, who was the director of the World Haiku Club Beginners' group. I joined, and she became the first of my online haiku friends.
It was an'ya who really set me on my way—not only through her mentorship at WHCBeginners, but also in haigaonline. The 2003 issue was my first online publication. I can still remember how pleased I was when an'ya wrote me, never imagining that two years later I would be drafting my thanks to her as the new editor of that same journal.
It is true that an'ya has not yet seen the new issue, but that is not to say that she has not been involved. When I accepted, she forwarded the material she had already collected, and the keys to the entire website including all her back issues. This at a moment when I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the enormity of my new commitment. Both she and Petar were readily available whenever I had questions or needed suggestions and advice. I am grateful to them, and promise to take good care of what they have built.
If you've gotten this far into the issue, you've already seen that it looks quite different. I say 'looks' because much of the difference is in appearance. The graphics are new, though the graphics have always changed from issue to issue. That's been part of the fun at haigaonline and will continue to be. The fundamental changes are actually rather simple: a layout that's more the way I generally design web pages, and the introduction of a navigation bar.
Look closer and you will recognize several of the features that have always characterized haigaonline are still here, notably traditional haiga, friendly collaborations, experimental portfolios, and young artists (tanga and photo haiga have been folded into the contemporary section and we had no family submissions for this issue, but I hope that will change). Another important thing that has stayed the same is the staff. I am especially pleased that Jasminka, Mary, Choshi, Hiromi and Shisen are all still here. I am grateful to Choshi for the warmth of his welcome, and to Jasminka for her steady reassurance at times when I was not sure what happened next.
Despite the continuity, however, a change in editors inevitably means a new identity for any publication. At the time that an'ya passed it to me, it looked as if the spring/summer 2005 issue might be on the small side, and that I would have to get more work to fill it. How might I introduce myself to readers who might be feeling a little uncertain about the future with an'ya gone?
"Remember to include your own work," an'ya had said. I did, but it also occurred to me that we learn a lot about people by the company they keep. For me, this is my work as a middle school art teacher in California, and my position as assistant director of the World Haiku Club's multimedia group. So I looked around for 'juniors' art and poetry at school, and I wrote my friends at WHChaikumultimedia asking for haiga. Meanwhile, an'ya was calling for submissions also.
You see the result before you. Not only is it bigger than I originally thought, the issue is full of wonderful and exciting art and poetry. It's been a pleasure working with everyone involved, whether old friend or new. I will not tell you who of the artists presented here is an old friend and who's new because by now it doesn't matter—we're all friends and supporters of haigaonline.
So let this be a "bash" in an'ya's honor, and then we will do as she said, take haigaonline further into the artistic realm of traditional and modern-day haiga. Indeed this is where it belongs. As you know, we the editors and staff cannot do this without your help. We hope that all of you will continue to read haigaonline, and to submit your haiga, haiku and tanka.
Next is the fall/winter issue, which by tradition will be monochrome!