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Haiga by
John Grossman

Simply Haiku
March/April, 2004, v2n2

John A. Grossman works as a Project Manager for a large construction company in Chicago, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He has a BA in Philosophy from UCLA and an MA from the University of Illinois, Chicago, in English and Creative Writing. While a Graduate Student he taught English Composition, Creative Writing, and Short Story. He has also studied with the novelist John Rechy in a private class in his home, and has written several books of lyric poetry, a collection of short stories (some of which were published in literary magazines), and two novels (not published). Last year he finished a book of free haiku inspired by a year spent at Lake Michigan building a dormitory for the Naval Base. He is also an artist who has worked in various media, and he has been involved in music.

He started writing haiku after reading Harold G. Henderson's book Introduction to Haiku, discovering Basho at age fifteen, and then devouring the books of Blyth. In part, this is his philosophy of haiku: "Like the tiny musical pieces by Anton Webern, the shorter poems of Emily Dickinson, the later work of Samuel Beckett, haiku fascinated me because of its absolute concision. And there was something about the deeper intent of haiku that I was attracted to, the poem a moment of meditative attention, an attitude of receptivity, where phenomena become metaphors (in the word's etymological meaning) 'to carry over' into the silence of the noumenal, and then dissolve into a deeper awareness beyond the epistemological mode of perception, beyond the merely aesthetic, Shunyata, into the realm of living, the ethics of conversation, conversing with all forms of life in human and non-human communities. Each poem is a postcard from the world of impermanence. The very form of haiku as defined in the practice of Basho, used and developed by Issa and other poets, male and female, is a poem that presents itself as a question, being nothing more than the beginning of a poem whose vanishing point is in the reader, inviting each reading to complete it but knowing it can never be finished. Like Buddhist 'skilled means' (upaya), the poem negates itself within its experience."

Artist's notes: Over the last three years I've been working in CorelDraw. I've worked in other media such as oil and acrylic painting, watercolor, ink, pencil, sculpture, etc. I had a couple of shows when we were living in LA. I chose to work on the computer for many reasons. One, I like the flexibility of adjusting format, the ability to continue to work on a piece, the possibility of reusing objects created in one picture in another one and so creating a subtle ontological theme with reoccuring images through different pictures.

In terms of traditional genres, computer art is like a print and wire sculpture. Another attraction for me, having a musical background, is that because objects can be copied, augmented, diminished, transformed, etc., I have the chance to develop pictures, images, compositions musically.

I approach a subject for a picture phenomenologically, that is, something, some event in the real world is the starting place. But I'm also aware that I'm working within a medium, that it is art, and so as the subject develops, I also allow the medium to suggest to me new possibilities and it becomes part of the process. In doing that, I explore how the subject can be expressed in many forms from realistic rendering to abstract impression creating what I call 'atmospherics'.

These images and the approach in making them are related to the haiku I write and the same discipline, attitude and receptivity, is used in each image.