"Haiku" is a Japanese word which means, "playful
phrase". "Haiga" is haiku painting. Historically,
haiga combined a haiku poem in calligraphy with a simple brush painting
. . . but has evolved in modern times to include illustrations which
could be photographic, collage, computer generated, or produced by
mixing any number of other available mediums.
has been growing discussion as to whether or not these modern day
off haiga should even still be called haiga
at all, since they are, at least in a technical sense, so far removed
from the form's ancient oriental roots. Of course, the first haiku
paintings were "true" paintings, achieved solely with ink
and brush, and were very much in keeping with the essential character
of haiku poetry: unpretentious expressions, unlabored images and
intuitive responses to perception, utilizing few strokes and relying
heavily upon suggestion to achieve a kind of co-creation between
the artist and the audience.
Still, these modern day versions do combine haiku
poetry and illustration, albeit electronic, photographic, or otherwise;
and even if some new name for haiku poetry in combination with new
era graphics should find its way into our vocabulary, that defining
combination and its genesis will always be the basis and the launching
site of haiga.
course, too, there are some in the modern western haiku community
wonder if the term "haiku" itself
hasn't become obsolete and should be revamped to something more in
line with the evolution of the idiomatic poetry we've come to accept
as contemporary English-language "haiku" . . . for it too
has emerged with an aesthetic of its own centered around the unique
requirements of our language, and full of prescribed "do's and
don'ts" that frequently appear contradictory to what we see
in the modern Japanese genre. This eventuality, the possible assignment
of new names for the expanding art forms of haiku and haiga, remains
to be seen.
But what is for certain, is that new experimentation
and inevitable change will relentlessly continue in both English-language
haiku and haiga . . . just as our language itself has grown and adapted
over the long journey through centuries of progress from its ancient
Indo-European roots through the Germanic tongues and into Old and
Middle English to our present day tongue. Language is not a static
thing, flowing like a river, it constantly changes and reflects the
new world around it. The genre of haiku, and the art form of haiga,
will certainly follow that irresistible flow to the beat of the times.
my own haiga paintings, I follow one of two paths. Either my paintings
will be almost directly illustrative of the verse,
with an aim at clarification and enhancement . . . or the illustration
will seem at first glance to be unrelated to the verse entirely,
requiring deeper contemplation to grasp a connection. Lately, my
preference tends to lean toward the latter. This type of seemingly
nonrepresentational painting hopefully produces a leap of intuition
to another level of understanding for the attentive viewer. It creates
through its enigmatic connection, a synergistic message not found
in either verse or painting alone, but only through the
symbiosis and synthesis of the two.
Zolo (John Polozzolo) born in 1949, graduated from
the University of Georgia, and received a Bachelor's Degree in English
and a Master's Degree in Education. As the director of a national
seminar company specializing in adult education, he lectured throughout
the nation from 1985 through 2000.
started painting and putting words to paintings long before kindergarten,
and began incorporating
haiku into his artwork about thirty years ago. His haiku and haiga
have appeared in magazines, newspapers, galleries, books, and even
corporate newsletters. His personal online gallery has been linked
to numerous websites.
haiga and haiku have received a number of awards and honors, including
an online show published by Brooks
Books; a Poet Profile documenting his work through the years
in the online poetry magazine, Aha, as well as the 2001
cover of the yearly publication, American Haibun and Haiga,
the cover of the premier issue of the haiku e-zine haijinx,
and the cover of the premier issue of Reeds, the first
hard copy magazine in North America dedicated entirely to contemporary
His work has been featured in Haiga Online, the first
online magazine dedicated to the oriental art form.
workshops in New York State prisons, and is the only American
artist ever to be contracted by a state rehabilitation program
the art form on a regular basis.
former guest editor of Modern
Haiku, he was the recipient of the Dragonfly Award from
the Western World Haiku Society, and the Cicada Award from
Society of Canada.
is co-founder and moderator of the online haiku group, Raku
which has recently released a groundbreaking project: the first
of a group
of haiku poets from
around the globe with accompanying compact disc of the
participants reading their original verses in their own voices.