News arising from the haibun side of haiku life at the end of 2019 was discouraging: both contemporary haibun online and haibun today were shuttering their operations. These two journals had shepherded the nascent haibun community through the first couple decades of our century, and though they had done their work well — haibun could now be found in far more venues than when they had begun their operations, including in nearly every major dedicated haiku journal — their removal would still eliminate a major arena for publication and dissemination of the genre. However, the word at the beginning of this year was much more affirming: not only was contemporary haibun online reconstituting itself, but it was being joined by two new haibun ventures. These, coupled with a redesigned Haiga in Focus, assure us that haibun and haiga remain in good fettle for the present. We thought we would invite the editors of these journals the opportunity to tell you why they are renewing their commitments to these art forms just now.
Rich Youmans of contemporary haibun online writes:
When I first became seriously engaged with haibun back in the early ’90s, in many respects the form was still open territory, ripe for exploration. Yes, its lineage stretched back a few hundred years, but by the late 20th century it had largely fallen out of favor in Japan and relatively few English-language poets were seriously focusing on its possibilities.
Today, interest in haibun has expanded globally, and I would bet that many writers would point to contemporary haibun online (cho) as an early and important influence. This past April the journal underwent its biggest redesign/overhaul since its launch in 2000, with a few new elements added: haiga is now part of the mix, and tanka prose has an expanded presence. The journal also has a new, expanded editorial team (including myself), and we’re all dedicated to ensuring that cho continues to promote, chart, and celebrate the ongoing developments in these literary and artistic forms. In haibun and tanka prose, we want cho to encourage a wide range of voices and further exploration — not just the traditional autobiographical essay, but also flash fiction, surrealistic prose poems, narrative poems, and pretty much anything else you can think of. In haiga, we want to offer galleries showcasing some the best from around the world. And we want to examine those explorations, to explain how they’re contributing to the evolution of their genres, and occasionally to look into the past, to see how it’s informing the present. And I don’t just mean looking back to Basho and his Narrow Road; contemporary haibun, tanka prose, and haiga have been building their own vocabulary, rules, and legacy over the past decades, and cho can play an important role in highlighting their continuing development and recognizing both early and current pioneers. Finally, we want to encourage both new and veteran writers, not just by providing an outlet for publication, but also by offering helpful critique, encouragement, and resources to continue their journey. Just as haibun, tanka prose, and haiga derive their power from collaboration — the linking of prose and haiku, prose and tanka, art and poetry, with the ultimate shift into something new — so too do we want to foster that same collaborative spirit among writers and artists, and deepen their sense of community.
Richard Grahn of drifting sands haibun writes:
drifting sands haibun is about giving back — paying it forward — and about fostering the growth and development of the haibun and tanka prose genres worldwide. It’s about following in the footsteps of the giants who inspired me to start writing in the first place. Humanity NEEDS more poetry, more art, more music. Without these, we would be little more than savages. dsh is a platform from which poets can reach out, touch lives, and color the world.
Sean O’Connor of The Haibun Journal writes:
The Haibun Journal, launched April 2019, is a biannual print journal dedicated to the haibun form. Founded in Ireland by Sean O’Connor, it aims to promote a wide appreciation of the form, to increase its readership worldwide, and to be a platform in print for writers of haibun. Submission windows are the months of January and July. Contact email@example.com.
Claudia Brefeld of Haiga im Focus writes:
At the end of 2017 HiF began with the aim of publishing expressionistic, experimental but also traditionally-designed haiga. The idea was to present a monthly selection. HiF would like to promote German haiga (photo-haiku etc.) in particular, but international haiga are also welcome — with a German (or an English) translation of the haiku. In the archive of HiF you can read different articles about haiga. In recent months there has been an enriching AFH (association-francophone-de-haiku) exchange, too. It would be nice if HiF also reflects international trends.
Please support these worthy efforts by sending your best work to them, reading them, donating to them, and spreading the word.