The Stone Lantern

Friday, July 14, 2006

Photography as Haiku (v.o.a.)

My publisher emailed me today about a review of my book on a digital photography newsletter website, of all places. It's fascinating because it isn't so much a review as an inspired riff on photography as haiku.

I've often thought of haiku as a poor person's photography -- after all, you only need a pencil and paper to do haiku. And both photography and haiku seek to capture a moment in time.

It seems that both art forms also struggle with the idea that the moment that is captured may not be understood correctly by the reader (or viewer). In other words, I write a haiku and it means one thing to me but it is so brief, how can I be sure that the reader senses what I sensed?

In haiku, some have tried to address this by providing context (haibun, for example, or haiga) or commentary. The author of the photography newsletter wonders whether adding commentary and context might also be appropriate in photography. Hmmm, I don't have an answer to this, especially since I don't even own a camera. (I'm the kind of person who buys disposable cameras and wonders how come the pictures come out so crummy.)

And what about haiku as commentary to photography? Or photography as commentary to haiku? Last month I saw an exhibit of photographs by the artist Roberto Kamide, in which his son George had composed haiku for each photograph. On the Internet you can find a number of haiku poets who have chosen to pair their haiku with photography. One of my favorite sites for this is Brooks Books Haiku.


  • "How can I be sure that the reader senses what I sensed", écrivez-vous. Au camp Haïku à Baie-Comeau, deux des recommandations de Francine Chicoine pour l'écriture de haïku étaient : "Faire confiance au lecteur" et " Ne pas tout dire."

    Je crois que le non-dit, la possibilité d'interprétation large, "l'ouverture" dans le haïku, est une de ses plus grandes qualités.

    Par ailleurs, moi aussi, je pratique le haïbun, à l'occasion. Et j'aime beaucoup les haïga - lorsque l'image et le haïku sont complémentaires, pas redondants. Un bon exemple d'exellents haïga sont ceux de Geert Verbeke.

    By Anonymous Monika, at 12:35 PM  

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