"We Are All Japan" — Impact of Life
In this recently released anthology, there are many good graphics with powerful impact like the theme-oriented digital manipulated photo-series "Underwater Trilogy" by Stephen Mead. Excerpt no. 6 (on p. 88) shows an interesting composition, revealing the dynamics between abstract and representative shapes and the change of perspectives, which spark the viewer's imagination.
Quite vivid and nicely executed is the series of "'Shibitachi'-Landscape" in brush and ink by Kris Moon on pp. 22-23. The view from sea is slowly closing in on the land, focuses on the "Thatched House" before it zooms out again. Despite the simple, but realistic view of the "Shibitachi Thatched House" right in front, the house seems to be already swallowed up by the sea. There are no dramatic waves, just this quiet imagery. How comes this underlying paradox about? It derives from the changes in the use of white and black, busy and open space within the entire series. Thus this simple, yet well contemplated and linked composition goes beyond the actual depicted and builds a new whole. It leaves the layers of reality and sudden change to the viewer to explore. The paintings, the haiku "still ... I wake up / to the singing river / and swaying bamboo", and the name of the place, conveys all the viewer may need.
The well-known haiga-artist Alexis Rotella offers a collage (on page 33). It is a playful composition of squares and circles, which enable a changing view of many image layers. For instance, a set table in nature, different landscapes, spiraling waves and/or hares. All depictions breathe movement; such as movement and growth of the elements and of nature on the whole. Despite the first idyllic impressions, the viewer experiences the importance of movement with an urgent effect on man himself, to move or to run, too. Besides, square and circle are considered as ideal form, therefore they carry deeper meaning in Chinese and Japanese worldview and thinking, especially in regard to creation. This opens an additional view beyond the "usual reading".
On page one, Robert D. Wilson contemplates in a well-manipulated opening photo-haiku (tanka) another relationship of man and nature. The viewer can easily determine what the special use of space for the elements like clouds and sea indicates. There may not always be a connecting bridge — connecting to what or to whom? — that safeguards and enlightens man, or is there? Questions one may keep in mind while reading the book.
This by Sasa Vasic and Robert D. Wilson carefully selected and arranged poetry, with contributions from over hundred haiku-poets and donors from around the world, shows Japanese haiku tradition at its best in a time of need. Haiku like: "Toshogu shrine pines / I try to stay as still — /mist and dew" by Alan Summers and "after the tsunami / the spring moon reflected / on a floating window" by Verica Zivkovic understand this tradition. Using direct, clear, and almost understating language, both poems fuse many viewpoints into one poetical view by alluding to (Far)Eastern and Western landscape and literature.
This anthology is meant to be a gift of compassion to the people in Japan. As a multifaceted documentary in and out of time, it tells about life, about people and "haiku-people"; it tells about the flow and means of information, about upside-down worlds, about how people cope and connect at different times and places. Looking closely, the presented poetry teaches us something deeper through the unique poetic insight in nature and man expressed in each work. That is something we are looking for in literature and poetry. In short, this book is a gift to all people.