STARLIT MOUNTAIN—HOW WHITE SPACE
AND IMAGINATION WORK IN HAIGA
Few have done more for—or had more influence on—the development of haiga in its modern form than Jeanne Emrich. A poet and artist living in Minnesota, she was the founder of Haigaonline (at that time called Haiga Online) and more recently has been best known as the editor of Reeds: Contemporary Haiga (http://www.reedscontemporaryhaiga.com/). which in its printed edition received numerous awards from Haiku Society of America. The Haiku Habit (http://hometown.aol.com/Jemrich/HaikuHabit.html) and her "how to" article at Tanka Online (http://www.tankaonline.com/) are invaluable resources.
As an artist, Jeanne works in both watercolor and sumi-e and is a co-founder of the Minnesota Watercolor Society. Her haiga collaborations with Susan Frame have appeared in Haiga Online, Reeds and Simply Haiku, while through Haiga Online and Reeds she has promoted a wide range of haiga styles, including scanned paintings and drawings, digital art and photography. Above all, her medium is the Internet, where modern haiga is an art form that the Japanese old masters could scarcely have envisioned.
I met Jeanne face-to-face at the Haiku North America conference in Port Townsend WA, 2005. She and Carole MacRury had organized a haiga exhibition and contest, and Jeanne was a conference presenter. Her paper on white space in traditional and modern haiga was transformative for me, because I had just taken on the responsibilities of Haigaonline and had just begun to think seriously about the aesthetics of this art form to which I how had responsibility.
Three years later, what I'd heard that morning still seemed so profoundly insightful that I approached her about writing on white space for Haigaonline. To my delight, she agreed. We settled on the format of an interview, which means of course that the material is presented here afresh rather than as it was then—as well it should be, for the issues herein are fundamental to the ways that words and images relate. Not just in haiga.