Part of the fun of editing Haigaonline is thinking of a theme for each issue. The idea for this issue's theme, "Village of Children," came from several sources. It began when I invited a portfolio from Laryalee Fraser, who had been doing some delightful work featuring haiku about her experiences as a grandmother. Moreover, I had also asked Shane Gilreath, who always seem to be able to mine his own childhood for haiga that make you say, "Yes, that's how it was!" Finally, lead times for a publication being what they are, this was still the dead of winter and inevitablymy favorite spring haiku by Issa sprang to mind:
the village brimming over...
(translation David Lanoue, http://haikuguy.com)
You'll find the fruits of my little brainstorm in our Featured Portfolios section, not only in Lary's and Shane's contributions but in a winsome series of photocollages by Kitsune Miko (Sandy Vrooman) as well.
As the issue developed, I worked on graphics (another fun part of editing Haigaonline) and looked for haiga by children, about children, etc. I would tell people that children would be the theme, but did not insist—after all, artists will go where their creativity takes them, and the main thing was to produce a good issue. Soon, however, I began to realize that there was a special quality about the children theme: it resonates and colors the reading of even the haiga that do not hew to it. Children figure in CarrieAnn Thunell's and Eric Houck's haiga in the contemporary section, as well as in both Gerald England's and my own experimental series. Am I imagining that one notices them a little more given the context?
I also began to see a sub-theme, which I've come to call the "innocent eye. " Over the last century, artists have been seeking to tap into the creative energy of children's art. Picasso has said it best:
Every child is an artist. The problem is
how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Ed Baker's and anya's pages, and all of the traditional haiga are the clearest instances of an "innocent eye," but it also appears in Emile Molhuysen's, James Thompson's and Eric's work. It's even in the series by Robert Wilson and Adriana DeCastro. This may not be readily apparent given the edgy, surrealist style of Adriana's imagery, but as all of us know, Robert has developed the consummate "innocent eye" in his poetry and he has brought it with him to this collaboration.
It's been fascinating to work on this issue and I've learned much about juxtaposition and resonance. Not only does the theme inform the haiga in the issue, each haiga brings something of its own to the mix. I see Gerald's quayside butchers watched by tourists and children and I'm reminded that children in most of the world are not as sheltered as we assume they ought be. Read Robert's "she didn't ask/to be born," feel the wistful sense of separation in CarrieAnn's rental cottage and the poppies on the road out of Norman Darlington and Jasminka's hometown. For me, as I put the final touches on the issue, Issa's haiku is not just about nineteenth century rural Japan; it is a universal theme. The children surging through their haiku village as the snow melts are all of us.
Once again, special thanks to Carol Raisfeld and Laryalee Fraser for their eagle eyes in proofreading, to everyone who submitted their art work to this issue, and to the Haigaonline resident staff for helping to make it all happen. We enjoyed preparing this issue for you and we hope you'll enjoy reading it.