Shiki's haiku in a comic panel: exercises in composition and contextualization
This is a video of a talk by Rebekah Machemer (Boston University, World Languages and Literatures Alumna) for the "Haiku as World Literature: A Celebration of the 150th Birthday of Haiku Poet Masaoka Shiki", which took place on October 12 & 13, 2017 at Barristers Hall, Boston University. Recorded on October 12, 2017 by the Geddes Language Center.
Haiku and comics share an important characteristic: both have been referred to as "films on paper." In the case of haiku, Sergei Eisenstein and Roland Barthes have likened certain verses to cinematic montage, and Shiki's shasei poetry in particular is famous for presenting carefully-curated snapshots of real life in order to evoke a certain response from the reader. The same technique is used in film and comics to convey information to readers in concise, beautiful, and interesting ways. Noting this similarity, earlier this year I attempted to "translate" three of Shiki's haiku into one-page comic illustrations, which have gone on to be featured in the Shiki kaishi and in local Matsuyama newspapers. In my talk I would like to describe my process of creating these comics, focusing on the way that supplementing each haiku with visuals allows the deeper implications of each poem to rise to the surface.