to our "Iris Fields" issue

The theme for this issue comes from many directions. That the theme for the Contemporary Haiga Challenge would be flowers was a decision I made last winter (remember all that dismal weather we were having?). When the time came to theme the entire issue, dominating the news were events in Japan. Transfixed by the horrific pictures that came every day on my television and my computer, particularly through Gabi Greve's Japan—after the BIG earthquake blog, I began to search the haiku of the old masters for one fitted to the occasion. I found it in Basho, who visited Sendai on his northern journey in 1689. The haibun recording his visit is touching for his mention of roof iris, bush clover and rhododendron, and his haiku about a local artist who gave him a parting gift:

It looks as if
Iris flowers had bloomed
On my feet—
Sandals laced in blue.

Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North,
tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa, 1967

"Iris Fields" it was, especially after I read Gabi's "Iris" page on the World Kigo Database, which has some lovely pictures of Japanese iris in bloom and several translations of Basho's haiku. The cameras and reporters have long since run off to cover other world events, though as of this writing, Japan is back in the news as it's revealed the nuclear disaster was far, far worse than earlier reports let on. Please keep our Japanese friends in your thoughts.

Once again we have a full issue for you. Mary's painting in last issue's Traditional Haiga section drew an impressive collection of offerings to poem it. We've chosen a haiku by Michael Dylan Welch and also included a slideshow with all the submissions, while on the other side of things, the Contemporary haiga section with the results of our Flower Challenge includes no less that forty-eight selections!

By contrast to the colorful flower haiga in the above two sections, both of this issue's Featured Artists have been working in monochrome: an'ya with ink brush painting and Ron Moss with a blend of photography and digitally manipulated imagery in the frames. As a bonus, anya's page includes an exclusive to Haigaonline about the art and haiga exhibits she organized for the June meeting of the Haiku Society of America in Bend Oregon. Check it out and be introduced to the Japanese arts of oshibana (pressed flowers) and suiseki (the appreciation of stones).

Our Haiga Workshop section has two presentations. One is another installment in my "Hai+Ga" series; the other comes from Jim Swift and is about working with black and white photographic images. You should find very useful for the next Challenge, since our December issue will revive an old Haigaonline tradition: the entire issue will be in monochrome.

Finally, the Gallery: Our current exhibition is still Alexis Rotella's "Kimono Prints", and it's worth revisiting if you haven't seen it for a while. Warm thanks to Alexis also for the following solstice haiga she sent this morning. It's the touch of color that the Welcome page needed!

Many thanks once again to Mary, Hiromi, Shisen, Jasminka and Choshi for their part in making Haigaonline the unique internet publication that it is, to Carol Raisfeld for her invaluable proofreading, and to all of you whose support has made it possible to keep us going in our thirteenth year.

Linda Papanicolaou

22 June 2011