I am honored to have been named runner-up for Haiku Master of the Week recently on NHK World TV’s Haiku Mastersseries for my haiga “finding the way back.”
I took the photo for this haiga while descending a rock staircase on a pueblo in New Mexico. The spiral staircase reminded me of the spiral shape of a chambered nautilus, an amazing creature that, as its flesh grows to fill the existing chambers inside, actually creates new chambers to accommodate future growth.
I was intrigued by the idea of growing into oneself as a metaphor for the journey of life. And while the spiral staircase in the photo actually leads outward to light, I read that light as a metaphor for the true enlightenment of coming to know oneself deep within. From my vantage point looking down into them, the spiral steps that lead into the light move clockwise, so I placed the text of the poem on the image so as to move the eye counterclockwise around the image. The haiga, thus, unites text and image in interlocking swirls.
Here are Haiku Masters judge Kazuko Nishimura’s comments on my haiga:
A nautilus grows to fill up the space in its shell, with an interior that can resemble a spiral staircase. This work does a wonderful job of representing the author’s drive to center oneself by returning to one’s origin. The way the text in the photo is written in the shape of a nautilus’ shell is also very well-done, successfully bringing the photo, text and haiku into one cohesive work.
I am most grateful to Ms. Nishimura for these comments and for bestowing this honor on my work.
My whimsical poetic take on a weed on my beaten path in Columbus was recently published in the journal DailyHaiga.
Haiga – haiku + visual art – is a venerable art form. Centuries ago, some Japanese poets would scribble their haiku, then amplify them with traditional brush paintings. A new genre was born.
As visual arts mediums changed through time and new technologies have allowed for the creation of new mediums, like photography, the visual mediums that can accompany haiku have likewise expanded.
Good haiga show a dynamic balance between haiku and visual image. The visual image should do more than merely illustrate the details in the poem. The poem should do more than simply explain the photo. Some of the most effective haiga, the poem and the visual image keep the reader/viewer moving back and forth between them.
My street baptism haiga, above, was inspired by a weed that I pass every day on my commute to work. There was something outrageous and brassy about a two-foot-tall weed popping out of a concrete road and standing defiantly next to a sewer drain. The quirky urban scene inspired a quirky urban poem full of ideas that don’t usually go together and that, thus, keep bouncing off of each other in a playful way.
Many thanks to editor Linda Pilarski for publishing my work in DailyHaiga.
A couple of weeks ago, I created my very first haiga – haiku plus visual art in symbiotic relationship. Today, it became a media celebrity.
This morning, I was named Haiku Master of the Week on the NHK WORLD TV (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) series Haiku Masters for my haiga “alone,” shown above. You can watch the mini-episode of Haiku Masters which aired on NHK TV this morning at this link.
Two of the hosts and judges of Haiku Masters wrote some thoughtful comments about my haiga, which was selected in a process of blind judging.
“One of the most important points of this piece is how although the narrator may be looking outside, he or see seems to be more focused on an inner dialogue. […] Furthermore, the word placement on the photo is wonderful, as isolating the word ‘alone’ increases the sentiment of loneliness,” wrote Japanese haiku poet Kazuko Nishimura.
“What exactly is the space between raindrops, we wonder, and imagine what thoughts slip in between,” wrote the American-born poet and photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura. Read the judges’ full comments here.
I wish to congratulate this week’s runners-up – Joelle Ginoux-Duvivier (France) and Kanchan Chatterjee (India) and to thank Ms. Nishimura and Ms. Pancoast Nagamura for seeing something meaningful in my work amidst a pool of thousands of submissions worldwide. I am delighted and humbled by this honor.