The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that all matter was made of four elements—water, fire, air and earth. These have been our themes for the last few issues, and we’ve now come to the last of the series: Earth. As a kigo category, it is the landscape of this planet that we live on, always there in our seasonal thinking. As a haiku topic, well, think of mountains, hills and fields in their various season guises, or of the many land formations that at one time or another have found their way into haiku as topics: mesa, canyon, ravine, cave, crater, volcano, desert, earthquake, landslide, rock, pebble, sand, dust . . .
Our featured artists for the issue include both old friends and new. Billie Dee, Allison Millcock and Ron Moss return with portfolios of photo-based haiga in a variety of styles that we know you'll enjoy. We are also very pleased to welcome Pamela Babusci, who has given us a lovely collection of her signature-style sumi-e and mixed media haiga.
Our Traditional Haiga section is in the works and will return in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue; meanwhile, we have another Haiku-this-Haiga painting by our resident artist, Mary Rodning, as well as a short article on Mary and her sumi-e teaching activities.
Longtime readers know that the December issue of Haigaonline is traditionally monochrome. Images may be in black and white, or in a restricted color selected related to the theme—this time, muted earth-toned brown and tan. Heretofore I've waited until I see what we have for the issue before selecting a theme and name for the issue. Increasingly, however, people have been writing me to ask in advance what the theme will be and so this time it was announced in June. You'll see the results in the Contemporary Haiga section—a ginkō of forty haiga that explore ‘earth’ in ways you might not have imagined.
As our longtime readers know, Haigaonline is the oldest Internet journal devoted to haiga, founded in 1998 by Jeanne Emrich. With the conclusion of 2008, we complete a decade of publication. Internet publishing and the online haiku community within which we function, have changed greatly since our founding. There are many more of us; connections are faster; browsers and image display are better; and, with the ready availability of digital cameras, photo haiga has grown exponentially. Plus, there are many other fine journals who now accept haiga: Ink Sweat & Tears, Lynx, Modern Haiga, Moonset, Simply Haiku and Sketchbook (have I left anyone out?) are just a few of the places where the artists of our Haigaonline family also publish. Many voices make us stronger. Personally, I'm delighted at this growth of haiga as an art form, but I do find myself thinking more and more how we at Haigaonline can/should maintain our own traditions, adapt to changing times, and help our friends at other publications to promote/elevate this art form that brings us together.
So, from issue to issue, you'll see a slightly different subset of links on the left sidebar. Our resident staff and I remain committed to our Traditional Haiga section, which has been the journal's core since our founding. We will also continue to promote the Collaborative section—haiga is, after all, a linked form that employs renku techniques. In bringing together two or more artistic sensibilities, collaboration brings a special depth and resonance to text/image juxtaposition. We will continue publish to work in a range of styles—scanned original drawings and paintings, digital art, artistically manipulated photo-based images, mixed media, photo haiga and photo haiku. Haigaonline has always been especially committed to promoting the art side of things, so for the near future look for our Experimental Haiga section to bring you features and articles that will, we hope, encourage everyone to push the envelope in many directions. If you have an idea, please write me. I'd love to hear it.
Finally, it happens now and then that I feel the need to put a new category to that left sidebar. A couple of years ago we began the Haiga Workshop to publish tutorials and news of activities from the online workshop groups. With the current issue begins another addition: Editor's Choice. This time, it includes a short follow-up to Jeanne Emrich's article in our last issue, and haiga by Mike Rehling in memory of Bill Higginson. It is Mike's haiga that has given the issue its name.
With all our best wishes for the Solstice and the New Year,