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Interview with Museki Abe
by Robert Wilson

Q. How did you become interested in the marriage of Photography and Haiku?

A. I have a pen pal, Alf Roslund, who is a photographer in Sweden. He often sent beautiful photos and I wrote haiku with pleasure in response to these photos, and I just hit upon the idea of photo-haiku then. Photo-haiku was a better way for us to maintain communication with each other, and we could have time to enjoy ourselves. It was the beginning of photo-haiku. After that I opened the web site: ‘Interactive Photo-Haiku’ to the public on the Internet. In my opinion, if Basho had had a camera in his time, he would have taken a lot of photos on his journey of The Narrow Road To The Deep North. My belief is that photo-haiku has succeeded in the Internet world because photography matches haiku so well.

Q. You are the Webmaster of the Photo-Haiku Gallery. What is Photo-Haiku? And what is the aim of the Photo Haiku Gallery?

A. Photo-Haiku is the putting of haiku and photo together. It includes not only literal photographs but also photos that have been revised like brush paintings by application software. When I started Interactive Photo-Haiku, the term "interactive" meant that it was a web site where the photographer and the haijin shared in the making of the photo-haiku. The aim of the Photo-Haiku Gallery is to enjoy ourselves, to have good relationships with people--photographers and haijin--around the world, and to foster intercultural communication.

Q. When you are composing a haiku to go with a particular photograph, what goes on in your mind?

A. I look at a photo for a long time and wait for ideas to come, and as they come, I write many haiku. Lastly I choose my favorite one. Sometimes, I pick a kigo in advance, for example, ‘New Year’s Day,’ which I submitted as a photo-haiku to this web site. And I usually try to write many haiku and then choose one of them. In haiku kukai, haijin write haiku with a kigo whenever it is called for. I sometimes do it the same way in photo-haiku.

Q. Do you feel it is essential to include a kigo word when writing a haiku.

A. In Japanese haiku, kigo is one of the most important issues. Japanese haiku is strictly about kigo and I follow the rules about kigo. I use a kigo, but try not to use double kigo in Japanese haiku at any time. By using a kigo in the haiku, we can write haiku neatly and deeply enjoy the changing of season with kigo. I often permit myself to use non-kigo haiku in photo-haiku, because some photos clearly show a season mood.

Q. You have stated that ‘Photo-haiku is different from other haiku styles.’

A. Photo-haiku started as collaborations between various haijin and photographers, not as a collaboration between photographs by my own haiku. A photo-haiku web site, as far as I know, had never existed until the first one we started. As most haijin know, Haiga existed from ancient times in Japan, but photo-haiku is very recent. So we had to create a new haiku style to fit it. These are important things in the photo-haiku world. Fortunately, we have already begun to study how to make the association between photographs and haiku and how to place haiku on the photographs. I would recommend that you see a lot of work by Ray Rasmussen, Carol Raisfeld, soji, and the members of the World Haiku Club Haiku's Multimedia E-Forum. You will be able to learn how to place haiku on a photo, how to choose a suitable font and its color, and how to judge the haiku in context of a photo-haiku. Their work is expanding the technique of photo-haiku. Lastly, I’d like to comment about many visualized haiku on web sites. They are increasing, not only in Japan, but also in many other countries. They have already become popular in the Internet haiku world.

Q. Why do you, as a Japanese citizen, write haiku in English?

A. Because I’d like to communicate with people through the Internet.

Q. What haiku master has had the greatest influence on you as a poet, and why?

A. If I must name just one of the great haijin, that’s Basho Matsuo. He has been an inspiration since I began to write haiku.

Q. What advice do you have for those who are just now beginning to write haiku?

A. Read lots of haiku. Recall an image and visualize it in haiku.

Museki Abe is he originator of the photo-haiku genre and is the webmaster of the Photo-Haiku Gallery and the World Tempos Journal, both of which focus on photo-haiku.

He has written a book 'haiku no susume' with Ikuyo Yoshimura, published by The Japan Times in 2003 which is for those who wish to learn how to write English haiku and photo-haiku.

He is a member of World Haiku Club, NOBO, Haiku Society of America, Haiku Canada, Haiku International and MIFA (Meguro International Friendship Association).

He especially likes to make plans related to English haiku events. He has made many plans including, the WHC Global Haiku Tournament, the WHC Photo-Haiku Contest, and the Haiku Column featured in the Daily Yomiuri, a newspaper. Last year he ran the Photo-Haiku World 2003 CANON camera website. He also has published Photo-Haiku Calendars in 2002 and 2003.

He won the Honorable Mention in World Haiku Festival 2000 and Silver Medal in Sakuraya Photo Contest 2003 in Tokyo.

Some of his own photo-haiku are featured in this issue: Museki Abe's Photo-Haiku

His web sites are:

He was also spotlighted in the World Haiku Review:

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