-YTHS Haiga – Guidelines


Japanese and Chinese lore proclaims that a realized person is one who is versed in poetry, art, and calligraphy. What better activity can one practice to obtain such a state other than haiga? This does not diminish in any way the individual merits of haiku, beautiful letter forms, or artistic images but it does highlight the additional satisfaction to be obtained by the combination of these three disciplines. The finished art is thus more than the sum of the parts but produces a new level that enhances the separate components and heightens viewer’ satisfaction.

There are pictures in every poem and poems in every picture. During the composition of a poem one does in fact always envision an image, howbeit a mentally conjured one or as a direct observation of Nature or human nature. Sharing this vision and combining the poem with the image can often result in a haiga that better conveys the subtlety of the artist’s message beyond the limitation of words. Employing calligraphic lettering, especially by the techniques of Sumi brush painting, adds to the authenticity of the finished haiga and will be in keeping with traditional haiku.

As you savor the sights and sounds along your journey may you find fulfillment in expressing your unique observations and experiences.

Suggested Guidelines for haiga in YTHS print and web publications

Images of the haiga may be in any form including a collage, photograph, or a painting in Sumi (ink), water color, acrylic, or oil. Such a visual image can inspire a subsequent haiku. Alternatively, a haiku may inspire an image in any selected art mode. In both cases simplicity of word and line, of poem and image, is a recognized goal where the poet’s awareness is expressed by suggestion versus full definition. Providing the haiku component of the haiga  in calligraphy or other hand lettering is favored. The use of a digital font consistent with the style of the haiga is acceptable.

The haiga is characterized by a spontaneous rendering of everyday life as well as by simple subjects, fluid lines, and open space. An important rule is that neither the haiku nor the art separately convey the total meaning the artist wishes to convey … each component needs to complement the other.

The elimination of superfluous words and paucity of line serves to accentuate the essence of the artist’s message. This combination of hinted word, simple pictorial image, and open space leaves the viewer room to interpret the finished art as they see fit and in keeping with their own life experiences.

The haiku poem component of YTHS haiga remains unchanged from accepted YTHS haiku practice. In traditional Japanese haiga the subject of the haiga’s haiku may, or may not, be shown in the haiga image. For YTHS publications the choice is left open to the artist’s preference, recognizing that using the image to expand rather than define the meaning of the haiku is the paramount goal. Providing the haiku component of the haiga  in calligraphy or other hand lettering is favored.

Mechanics of Submitting

  • Our maximum image size is 650 pixels high or wide, and 72 pixels per inch resolution. Larger files will be resized to fit our page format.
  • You may submit as many entries as you like, but we will be accepting at most seven (7) from each submitting author/artist.
  • Apart from your source text, submissions should be unpublished and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. This includes not only publication in online and print journals, but also works displayed where others can access them on social media, personal web pages, online photo albums, blogs, and at online workshop groups and forums.
  • Include “YTHS Haiga” in your subject heading. In the text body of your email give full footnote information and a URL to which we may use to link to the text online. Submissions that do not include full source citation cannot be accepted. 
  • Copyright to all work published on youngleaves.org remains with the contributing author/artist, and no haiga may be copied, reproduced or republished without their written permission. Artists and authors are free to republish work. Needless to say, found poems are a considerably different situation. We feel we’re operating under the educational and transformative exceptions of Fair Use and accept submissions for this feature in good faith, but if any originating author, estate or publisher objects, we must of course remove the work from the site.