[ Startseite


When image and haiku share the same space

Interview with Lavana Kray

>>> German Version


Lavana Kray is from Romania. She is very passionate about writing and photography.

Over the years, she has won various prizes in haiku and tanka competitions. The World Haiku Association awarded her the title of Master Haiga Artist. Her work has appeared in many print and online publications, as well as in Haiga Exhibitions organized by the World Haiku Association in Japan and Italy. She currently serves as editor of Haiga at Cattails (UHTS).

She has published three photo-haiku books and one tankart collection.



CB: What was the trigger for you to get involved with haiku? Did you discover haiga at the same time or did you come across it later?


LK: Some time ago, on a photography website, there was a contest to illustrate the haiku of a few Romanian Haijins. For several months, I continued to illustrate their poems, then created my own haiga.



Had you written your own haiku before this point?





What makes a good haiga?


From the moment I was drawn to this artistic piece called Haiga, I had in my mind the following words of Susumu Takiguchi, the founder of World Haiku Club:

"If the painting and haiku are the same, it would mean that one has been added because the other is not adequate. It is not only superfluous, but could also be interpreted as rude".

So, I think that the simplicity of the photograph used for a haiga is very important.

No matter what kind of image we use, it is preferable to have a simple subject that does not occupy all the field of a haiga, but leaves a breath for the poem.

Both the picture and the poem must have a personal, touching message; they do not describe each other, but they have to spread a new emotion together.

As photography and haiku share the same space, they are meant to complement, and not explain, one another.

The poem does not overlap with elements from the image: leaves, flowers, trees, etc. We use simple fonts, easily readable by anyone in the world. The fonts should be of medium size, written on a blank space in the image.

The subject should be the star, not the font size.

For the author's name we use smaller fonts than for the poem, and it is placed, at the bottom, in a place to be as unobtrusive as possible but visible.

No matter how artistic the font looks and visually pleasing, if the poem has no "core", the fonts will never help.

More art, less kitschiness of a Haiga is my daily motto.

Haiga composition has to move us emotionally and intellectually.

After I finish creating a haiga, I ask myself if I would hang it on my bedroom wall.

If I don't like it so much, I'll start again.

After years of experience, I have come to the conclusion that for a successful haiga it is better to start with the haiku. Otherwise, if you look at a picture, you are tempted to describe it. It's harder to mentally detach yourself from it.



Are there any other important techniques to pay particular attention to or know the effects of?


The first contact with a haiga is visual. Before we read the poem's message, we are either drawn to the image or not. If there is a mixture of different elements in the image so that nothing catches our eye, the haiku may go unnoticed. A kitsch image makes the haiku seem banal, when perhaps it is not, on the contrary. So, I think the image is essential to sustain the emotion of the haiku. The image should be a kind of pedestal for the poem.

If photography is so important for this artistic genre, then it is essential to keep in mind a few rules of image composition, namely the rule of thirds. Because it requires a larger space, follow the link below. It will be really helpful.

After we have chosen the picture we need, we apply a minimal editing that consists of equalizing the light on the whole surface, give a contrast and clarity, make a crop if we need to remove the subject from the center of the image (you will get the optical illusion of a wider space in one of the parts: left-right, or up-down).




Do you distinguish haiga from photo haiku, and if so, what would you call purely digitally created works?


I generically call haiga any visual art form combined with a poem, just to be brief, but the rules of composition are the same.



The more you look into haiga, the more difficult it seems to be to assign it clearly. How would you define haiga to distance it from other works?


I think all works including haiga are distinct from each other by their own definition.



Are there any works or authors that have particularly influenced you?


Yes, this is Ioana Dinescu. Right from the beginning, when I saw her haiga, I resonated with the atmosphere they gave off, their sensitivity and the way they left an open space for my imagination and interpretation. I also illustrated some of her poems, then when I started composing my own haiga, I took strict account of her guidance, which was essential for my subsequent evolution as a haijin and haiga loving artist.



You are the maintainer of the blog BLACK & WHITE HAIGA/HAISHA. Why the focus on black and white?


The preference for black and white is a personal choice, born out of the effect that two-toned images have on me. It seems to me to accentuate the atmosphere in the haiku, plus the mind's eye is focused strictly on the lines and message of the subject. For example, being captivated by a sunrise, you risk overlooking that the image has no subject, only color.

When we were learning about photography, the teacher told us to turn the colour image into bitonal and if it still had any meaning, we could keep it, but if it was only about colour, and nothing more, we had to drop it.



Where do your ideas and inspirations come from and which topics are especially important to you?


Elements from nature, events from personal life, and the everyday realities are my inspiration for haiku and senryu



Do you see any further development of the Haiga for the future?


As long as the visual arts will find new methods of expression, this genre of art called Haiga will have a new outward appearance; in essence, it will always be the same artistic, emotional connection between image and poetry.



Can you introduce a few of your haiga and briefly explain why they are particularly meaningful to you?


I have many works that I care a lot about, but the most important are those where I have had feedback from which I understand that I am on the right way in composing a haiga. I mean the exhibitions in Japan and Italy, where I was selected by Kuniharu Shimizu, and the Haiku Masters, a monthly interactive TV program in Japan, where my haiga were many times selected and commented on.
















From your point of view, is there anything else that is very important to you about haiga?


Let's not forget that haiga is a form of artistic expression, so it has a special emotional charge that defines our spirit. After I finish composing a haiga, I say to myself: this is me. Do I or do I not show myself to people in this way? If I like the way I look, I keep it, if I don't, I start over, even if some sites publish all kinds of kitsch art.



Lavana, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. I enjoyed it, and I think haiga enthusiasts will read it with great interest! 




(September 2022)