Combining words and images to produce haiga and shahai (photo haiku) has grown to become one of my favourite creative activities. I’m a fan of short form poetry and enjoy taking photographs of the local landscape, so it’s an interesting challenge to combine these in a way that adds meaning, without one part simply describing the other (see The Role of Fusuko Furi in Photo Haiku for more info). So this morning I was ridiculously excited to learn that I have been placed in both categories of this year’s Seoutchi-Matsuyama photo haiku competition.
Comment from the Judge: David McMurray
Try as we might to look past the fence and cross the water to a greener shore in a pleasing sunlit background our travel dreams are frustrated by the pandemic. The bold horizontal leading lines of the fence, the sea, and the landscape stretch right across this wide-angle image, dovetailing with the sound of despair from the text: though we want to, we cannot go. Similarly, the well-placed ellipsis […] makes us pause and cuts the lines of a debate in two. The haikuist masterfully imbued a photo and a pithy 3-4-3 syllable form with the longing that is on all of our minds.
This part of the competition involved the entrants using their own photograph and writing a haiku to accompany it. Mine was taken during lockdown on a short drive with my family along the coast from my hometown of Warrenpoint, County Down. It features Carlingford Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea, with the mountains of County Louth across the water. It was fortunate that the shot, taken from the passenger seat while moving, wasn’t blurred!
I imagined the tension and pull of gravity as the bird lifted itself from the water, much like a plane taking off. I’m terrified of flying and that is definitely the worst part of the experience for me! When I lived in England for over a decade, I often travelled home and it was much easier to take the plane to Dublin or Belfast. But I never got used to it. After the holidays, it was also difficult leaving my family behind, hence why i struggled with the weight of departure.
Thanks so much to David McMurray for his judge’s comments. David is editor of The Asahi Haikuist Network