"A song ... with lyrics tells you what to think. ... with an instrumental composition You can think what-ever you want". (Miles Davis)
The technical, artistic, lyrical, & sometimes spiritual challenge (include haiga with its
visual component as well) effecting these ehi (english haiku idioms) are intersectional and multi
layered. Creating ehi, especially haiga is akin to creating polyrhythmic sound. All of ehi's
components must stand on their own merit, while simultaneously complimenting every other.
With ehi as with jazz as Miles suggested, we initially "tell the reader what to think".
We are creating a starting point for an artistic dialogue between the writer and the reader. After
doing so we must leave it open-ended; all of which may or may not be apparent to the reader
depending on their level of familiarity with the art form. As writers, we do so with our words,
space, pragmatic particles, ambiguity, and the cutting/kireji - or the level and style of the
contradictoriness we communicate to the reader.
Then by leaving the poem open ended, the reader can seamlessly pick up our literary
baton and take things a step further in their minds eye. This is where our poems acts as Miles
suggested as "instrumental (or literary) composition", which as he suggests allows the reader
to "think what-ever you want" with your mind’s eye.
Without imagery haiku poems that are more spiritual in nature tend to have fewer
subjects, while those (often senryu) more centered in non-spiritual or secular subjects tend to
have multiple subjects; this tends to be true whether those subjects reference nature or
Incorporating original poems and imagery, originally known as haiga:
When we incorporate visual imagery things become even more complex. This inclusion
of imagery in the form of haiga most closely resembles Miles's polyrhythmic sound. The
haiga image has to compliment the poem and vice versa, all without overwhelming one another.
How? By communicating specificity with its imagery, imagery that act as visual lyrics that
tell the reader what is being communicated, in both the image and the poem. This is akin to as
Miles put it "telling you what to think".
Or the image can complement the poem and vice versa with more abstract-ambiguity,
which also creates a wider spiritual opening, this abstractly ambiguous opening acts as a
visual catalyst with which as Miles put it, "you can think what-ever you want".
Incorporating established haiga or imagery.
For instance, writing poetry specifically to accompany the woodblock prints of say
Hokusai or Hiroshige is jikuzo-shi. Here the image is created first to "tell you what to think",
then the jikuzo-shi poem is created as an afterthought and reinforces the print. It does so by
speaking of what is transpiring within the image. This is rarely if ever spiritual in nature.
Honka-dori: Long story short, Honkadori are created from works that are derived from
haiku's literary cannon, essential poems. Honkadori is akin to the way Jazz Musicians derive
from their cannon of Jazz Standards, and create their own cover versions or reinterpretations. It
may or may not tell us what to think, and may or may not be spiritual in nature.