While I’m corralling all my thoughts and sketches for this month’s client, I’m met with the constant questions of what exactly they do, what their mission is, and how they go about maintaining their sensibilities. I’ve sprinkled some of my mind maps in this post, but for the most part I’m writing to help define what Haiku Den is, and offer some of my own artwork to help solidify some content for their online presence and overall direction.
Haiku Den is a gallery and arena of artists and poets with the intention of exalting and exploring haiku. It’s a community for anyone to respond to and appreciate poetry, in whatever form that takes. There are moderators to this process however, but for the most part it is an online collaborative experience. When you come to the site you’re greeted with the haiku and artwork that people have created that day. A quick branch leads to membership, and potential for having your own published. The breakdown goes something like this:
- Sign up for Haiku Den
- Choose a haiku OR write your own.
- Express it in any way you like: through visual art, multi-media or simply words.
- Upload and submit your work.
- Dig through the work others have made. Respond to the poetry, appreciate the art, live zen.
The next step is understanding haiku, which is something I’ve been exploring the past month. It’s not exactly an art form one can learn in a week, but luckily I have had exposure to it in the past. It’s still worth attempting to reduce the function and form of such poetry for the sake of defining and recognizing its value.
David Lanoue of haikuguy.com breaks it down a little like this:
Haiku, in English, usually appears as an unrhymed three-line verse. Its use of intense, fragmentary imagery and its stress on rhythm and sound place it in the poetry side of the language spectrum. Though it can be presented on the page in three lines, a traditional Japanese haiku of Issa’s era structurally consists of two parts with a pause in between. Its power as poetry often derives from juxtaposition of the two images and the sense of surprise or revelation that the second image produces.
The example he provides for this dual imagery is this:
the uneaten ducks
Two images appear: 1/ spring rain falling, 2/ the quacking ducks that have survived the cooking pots of winter. Considered alone, each image doesn’t amount to much of a poem. But set side-by-side, the rain and the ducks make a powerful, celebratory statement about life, survival, and the promise of spring.
This is about as basic as you can get for beginners to the world of haiku poetry. It fascinates me that so much about life and nature can be made thought provoking by the arrangement of so few syllables.
I’m not really sure what I expect Haiku Den to provide to the public. I can’t imagine there are artists or designers or poets out there who would be so committed to crafting artwork in response to poems without some fashion of payment or appreciation. I considered it much like Post Secret, where anyone and everyone crafts an anonymous reflection of their life in quick collage and hand-written forms. This can lead to some awfully beautiful and intense pieces of work. On the other hand, there could be beauty in such a project to engage haiku with refined visual sensibilities; to really push the meaning of its poetry through juxtaposed and conceived arrangement, i.e. visual art.
Therefore, Haiku Den is a submission based gallery. The sensibilities of the moderators are the client, and it is they who would be in charge of approving submissions. Their judgment ensures the high quality of content that viewers will expect. Those sensibilities include some of the words used to describe them from the initial briefing: zen, current, poetic, acute, atmosphere.
To get to know the client and the kinds of submissions, I’ve decided to go a step further and submit my own haiku haigas for the whole week. Though I’ll be posting my artwork here at Monthly Brand (because Haiku Den isn’t real), ideally you would see the haiga online on a dedicated website. This is also an opportunity to read some haiku, and gain some exposure. All five of the haiku will come from an amazing resource called Haiku by R. H. Blyth, which is a large four volume set of poems by a bank of classic authors, well organized and succinctly annotated.
So, here’s my haiga for Monday, a visual collage of imagery and typography, my favored form of expression, followed by the haiku in the form of text: