Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Contents Archives About Simply Haiku Submissions Search
Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3


| Return to Simply Haiku | First Image |

[ click on the image to see the larger version ]

Linda Papanicolaou, Jim Swift, and Carol Raisfeld
~ Graphic Renga ~

Icy Wind, a twelve-tone graphic renga
by Jim Swift, Linda Papanicolaou and Carol Raisfeld

Graphic renga is an internet-based, collaborative art form developed by Japanese artists Nakamura Rieko and Anzai Toshihiro ( Ren (linked) + ga (image), it's a little like the renga of linked poetry that we know, yet also different because images link to each other in ways that are like and unlike word linking. As Nakamura and Anzai conceived of this form, an image is passed from one participant to the next, each artist changing it before passing it on. They may add something to the image, cut something to paste into a new image, or change the image by distorting, filtering or manipulating it. The resultant new image should have artistic integrity in its own right, but at the same time what remains of the received image should be clearly evident.

Graphic renga are a popular exercise at the WHChaikumultimedia forum. We've added our own twist: poetry. Each image that is passed on is a haiga. Lately, we've been exploring new ways of linking the graphic renga through text as well as image. Having just finished a global collaboration (whole group) renga in which each haiku carried over one word from the previous, Jim wanted to try a more subtle way of linking, through meaning and suggestion. 'Icy Wind' was a trial run before introducing the concept to the group. Jim provided the first haiga. We decided to go for a set of twelve, which would give each of us four turns, time to warm up and fully explore the possibilities.

Half-way in, it began to be apparent that the renga was going to be like the walrus' "begin at the beginning and when you get to the end, stop," without some parameters. Would we be able to achieve a sense of closure if we coaxed it into a renku? One quick look at the renku form junicho which is flexible in its ordering of topics, suggested that this might work. The moon verse may be any sort of moon, any season, and flowers may be any flower, any season, not just cherry blossoms. We already had Jim's winter hokku (#1), Carol's summer/blossom verse (#3), two adjacent linked love verses (Linda's and Carol's #5 and 6), and non-seasonal verses that interspersed reasonably. It was thus a matter of making sure to incorporate autumn, moon and spring, finishing with an appropriately upbeat ageku (#12).

Strictly speaking, of course, it's not a renku-most of the texts in the haiga were monoku (1-line) and we did not rewrite them in alternating 3- and 2-lines. Nor did we backtrack to root out kannonbiraki ( 'backlinking') in either texts or images--at this stage in our explorations, were primarily interested in achieving a 'renku wave'. 'Icy Wind' combines two very different art forms that happen to share the same name, 'renga'. What we've found is that the creative possibilities are endless.


Linda Papanicolaou Linda Papanicolaou lives in the Bay Area of California. A middle school art teacher and art historian, she became interested in haiku and haiga when she taught an art lesson that combined leaf printing and haiku; since then, her favorite forms of creative expression are haiku, haiga, any art that offers the possibility of combining text with images. She is the editor of Haigaonline, assistant director of WHChaikumultimedia and a resident artist at Moonset. Her art and poetry have appeared in Amaze, Autumn Leaves, Contemporary Haibun Online, Fire Pearls, Frog Pond, Geppo, Heron's Nest, Haigaonline, Ink Sweat & Tears, Lynx, Mariposa, Moonset, Nisqually Delta Review, Ribbons, Santa Fe Broadside, Simply Haiku, Soundings, Temps Libres, WHC World Kigo Project and World Haiku Review.

Jim Swift Jim Swift is a retired mathematics teachers, living in Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. He has had a lifelong interest in photography and his switch to digital in 2002 coincided with his introduction to haiku. His photographic haiga have been shown in two (and another one in preparation) Gallery Exhibitions. They have also appeared in Haigaonline, Simply Haiku, and Moonset where he is the contributing editor of the Photographic Arts page. Jim's work can be seen at

Carol Raisfeld Carol Raisfeld lives in Atlantic Beach, New York. Photography and poetry are an integral part of her life, as well as yoga and boxing. As an inventor, she holds US and foreign design patents. She serves as Director of WHChaikumultimedia, Multimedia Editor, World Haiku Review, Associate Editor and Haiga Editor of Simply Haiku and is member of the editorial board of Modern Haiga. Carol's poetry, art and photography have appeared worldwide in print, online journals and anthologies, including Green Leaf Files,, Temps Libres, Printed World Haiku Review, haigaonline, New Leaves—Collection of World Haiku, Red Moon Anthology, Haiku Pacific Rim, The Daily Yomiuri, Frogpond, Heron's Nest, Simply Haiku, Autumn Leaves, Full Moon Magazine, moonset, The Newspaper, Ribbons, Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, Modern English Tanka, The Dreaming Room Anthology, Ash Moon Anthology, Modern Haiga 2008 print and digital, SP Quill Magazine 2009,and Muse India 2009. Her work may also be seen on

Copyright 2009: Simply Haiku