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Volume 34.3
Autumn 2003

book review:

Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, No. 1
edited by Jeanne Emrich


reviewed by Lee Gurga

Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, No. 1, edited by Jeanne Emrich, (Edina, Minn.: Lone Egret, 2003), 60 pages; 5.5" x 8.5"; perfectbound. No ISBN. $12.00 postpaid from Lone Egret Press, PO Box 390545, Edina, MN 55435.

Reeds is billed as the first in a series of annuals to be devoted to the art of contemporary haiku painting. Ably introduced by editor Jeanne Emrich, it contains the work of dozen artists and an all too brief historical survey by Steven Addiss, arguably North America’s leading expert on haiga.

In a volume such as this, adequate color reproduction of the artwork is essential, as other some other attempts to present contemporary haiga have negatively demonstrated. Here the presentation goes far beyond adequate to the ideal with crisp, vibrant colors and legible text.

A question for haiga, as for other associated haiku arts, is “what is haiga?” The range of quality and posture of the poems here suggests several answers are possible. Is a tan renga or tanka with a painting haiga? Can any visual poem be called haiga? Does a punned slogan like “East meats West” approach the perceptual significance of haiku? These are questions to ponder as one experiences the aesthetic richness of this volume.

All in all, an essential book for anyone with a breath left in them. A bargain at twice the price.



©2003 Modern Haiku • PO Box 68 • Lincoln, IL 62656