A Farewell Statement to Our Readers, Writers and Editors
This is my last issue as content editor – I’ve been called many things much worse, including Editor-in-Chief – of Contemporary Haibun Online. It’s about time I thanked some people. And here they are. It was just over six years ago that Jim Kacian, founder and long-time editor of CHO, asked if I would like to take over editing duties. Jeffrey Woodward, I believe, had suggested I might be a good fit for the job. I was a shadow editor for one issue (CHO 10.1), watching how it was done. We put a team of editors together, Marjorie Buettner and Lynne Rees and me, and I asked Ray Rasmussen who manages a number of aspects of each issue’s production and distribution, an annoying number of questions. We debuted as a team with issue 10.2 in July 2014, with Gary Eaton as our copy editor. Marjorie and Gary retired from their voluntary editing duties after issue 10.3. Lynne and I co-edited together through CHO 11.4.
I learned much about editing from Lynne, who has a very keen eye and a good sense of humor. When we were going through submissions and making selections, I would challenge myself to match her decisions. Of course, we didn’t always agree, but that was more rare than one might think. Since her departure, the number of acceptances has increased, and this issue may be the biggest yet under my tenure, but I would like to think that’s a consequence of a steadily increasing number of submissions, as well as my belief that CHO should represent rather than determine what’s happening in the haibun and tanka prose fields.
I do have an idea of what a good haibun is, and I have tried to understand that good writers want to experiment with form, any form, and content. And I’ve also have tried to help writers new to the form appreciate the conventions of haibun. As I’ve said before, poets are still writing sonnets. They may not rhyme or have any regular meter, but they can still be identified as sonnets. If you go through the CHO archives, you’ll find a variety of styles, variations on the form, and content that covers everything from the natural to the supernatural and all the things that go on in between. I think they can all be identified as haibun.
Watching my back and championing the haibun form, Ray, in addition to being webmaster and all-around wizard, has made sure that we regularly publish essays on the craft of haibun.
There are many people who have contributed to the haibun community, but for the last decade or so, Ray, in his numerous roles as editor-of-one-kind-or-another and technician at both Contemporary Haibun Online and Haibun Today, has been the turtle that supports a significant part of the haibun world. We can shorten that philosophical quip “It’s turtles all the way down” and just say, “It’s Ray.” It’s been privilege to work with him.
Last but not least, I want to thank the many contributors to and readers of CHO. I feel that many of you have become friends in that strange way the Internet has made possible. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever meet, but I look forward to reading your work in future issues of CHO and other journals, and no doubt our social media paths will occasionally cross. I wish you all the best of luck and hope you continue to write haibun.
As Ray and I contemplated what the closing of Haibun Today might mean for the haibun community, the question of what would happen with Contemporary Haibun Online when I leave arose. I had reached a point where work, my day job, was demanding more and more of my time. And Ray also needed to cut back on his commitments. However, neither of us wanted to see both journals close shop. Suffice it to say that is not happening. Jim Kacian is returning as owner. Rich Youmans, an editor at Haibun Today, is taking over as managing editor. (I don’t want to use the title Editor-in-Chief after my opening sentence!) Several other editors at Haibun Today - Terri French, Pat Prime, and Tish Davis, and a previous HT editor, Glenn Coats with a guest editor slot – are joining the team with Rich. Claudia Brefeld will be joining the team as the haiga editor and CHO will sport a new haiga section.
Contemporary Haibun Online is alive and well.
All the best,