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Haiga is most often a mix of image and either haiku or tanka poetry. But this collection mixes images with haibun (prose plus haiku).

The origins of haiga are in Japan where poet-artists used a mix of brushstroke painting and calligraphy to compose their images. Contemporary haibun practitioners employ a variety of image types including sumi-e, traditional brushwork, photographic images, digital-art, and all forms of modern fine art.

Haibun prose focuses on the writer's experiences, either recent or in the past (a memoir). Thus it's personal and true, as opposed to fictional. The prose tends toward abbreviated syntax to convey a storyline in a stream of sensory impressions. For the most part, the style avoids philosophical comment. It is involved more with 'showing' rather than 'telling'. Most often [but not necessarily] it is written in the present tenseā€”as if the experience is unfolding now rather than yesterday or some time ago.

Contemporary English-language haiku are most often presented as two phrases with a total of 17 syllables or less. The two phrases work together to create a poetic spark. Haiku don't use traditional poetic devices like rhyming and repetition.

In this case, the spark of haiga with prose has to do with three elements:

  • quality of the image
  • the quality of the prose and poem
  • the relationship of the prose and poem to the image. Do they enhance each other, making the haiga greater than the sum of its two parts?

For the most part, I use photography (photo haiku) or digital art haiku for my compositions. Parts or all of these collections have appeared in: Haigaonline, Daily Haiga and Simply Haiku.

~ Ray Rasmussen