< meta charset="UTF-8"> Haibun Today: A Haibun & Tanka Prose Journal
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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 4, December 2019

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Ray Rasmussen

The Closing of Haibun Today

In his first Haibun Today editorial (November 22, 2007 HT Blog), founder Jeffrey Woodward wrote that haibun is ". . . terra incognita—vast and only marginally explored." He went on to say that HT would engage in that exploration, offering "an ongoing and open critical forum as well as an evolving anthology of the genre."

For more than a dozen years it did just that, developing a rich archive of articles, haibun and tanka prose that presented the genre in its continuing evolution. Thankfully, that archive will remain online for some time. However, this issue of Haibun Today will be our last.

The reason for closing HT is the usual one. Several years ago, Woodward, who as editor-in-chief for 10 years, wanted to give more attention to his own work and was fatigued with the daily tasks of managing, editing and proofing the journal.

I took over as editor-in-chief and continued on as technical editor and webmaster. My tasks when I wasn’t reviewing submissions have been formatting the issues and recruiting to keep a team of good editors for the three sections: Haibun, Tanka Prose and Resources (Articles, Reviews, Interviews, Commentaries). And I too began to feel the pangs of burnout and wanted to focus my attention of several projects I’ve not had time to complete.

Part of my fatigue stemmed from simultaneously serving as technical editor and webmaster of Contemporary Haibun Online. Being long-in-tooth, I worried that I’d suddenly move on to the next place and there’d be no one to pick up the managing and formatting of future issues of both HT and CHO.

At this time, Bob Lucky is also soon stepping down as Editor-in-Chief at CHO. I’m happy to report that Jim Kacian, CHO’s founder, has successfully recruited a new Editor-in-Chief and a group of editors (some from HT) who will work as a team. You’ll find a detailed announcement in CHO’s January 2020 issue.

So in part, I’m devoting my energy to managing the transition at CHO to ensure the survival of one of these well-established journals and to creating a permanent archive for both journals.

Off and on, since making the “closing shop” decision, I’ve found myself composing a message to you, our writers. I know through my own experience in writing and submitting work to various journals, that the submissions writers send tend not to be fiction but are instead personal accounts of lived experiences. And that’s what attracted me, and I assume you, to writing in the haibun genre. We are all producing a series of short memoirs from distant past and recent experiences.

I also know that we writers make the effort to produce work that goes well beyond a typical, unedited, for-the-writer’s-eyes-only entry to a diary or a personal journal. In submitting work to journals, we've decided that we want to share our writing with an independent editor (not only to get into the journal, but to get an assessment of the quality of our work). And, when the writing is accepted, we want to be read by a wider readership than friends and family.

We editors at Haibun Today have given your work close readings. I personally have much enjoyed the writing received from all over the world. And, as an additional blessing, I feel as if I've gotten to know some of you via correspondence about your writing and all of you via your haibun compositions, that is, as much as we can know one another without ever being face-to-face. I suspect that many of you also feel a sense of community with the other writers whose work appears along with yours.

In closing the journal, I thought it would be important to mention what HT’s founder, Jeffrey Woodward, has accomplished through his leadership and the editorial help he was able to recruit in producing HT:

• When HT and CHO started up 13 and 15 years ago respectively, journals dedicated exclusively to haibun and tanka prose were practically nonexistent. All the multigenre journals, print and online, published only a small volume of haibun, and that is still the case.

• In a given year during that period, most published English-language haibun have appeared in HT and CHO.

• In addition, the number of new writers has grown considerably, largely due to the amount of volume of haibun that HT and CHO carry. Both journals have encouraged new writers, as well as experienced writers from haiku, tanka prose and haibun-related genres: free verse, prose poetry, memoirs, travel writing, personal essays and short fiction.

• Uniquely, Woodward set out to create a resources section of critical writing – the type of writing that serves to guide editors and writers and that helps establish haibun as its own genre, aka different from its close relatives: memoirs, personal essays and travel writing. HT’s resources section is undoubtedly the best collection the genre has to offer. The amount and variety of articles makes the section well worth visiting for anyone interested in writing in haibun or tanka prose forms.

• Woodward’s editorials (which can be found here: Editorials) offer thoughtful comments about the development and present status of this genre that is a writing homeplace for haibunists.

Without the two journals, I doubt that haibun in English would have expanded as rapidly as it has. After all, serious writers need places to publish their work. And new writers need editors and places to publish that are less demanding than some of the multigenre journals that select only a small percentage of submissions. Editors at HT and CHO accepted a much larger percentage of submissions and many of our editors actively worked particularly with new-to-the-genre writers to help ready their work for publication.

I’m happy to say that there now exist a much larger number of journals, some multigenre and some dedicated to haibun and tanka prose, that carry a good deal of work. Also, that we writers have a variety of editors to judge our work. In short, others have stepped up to the plate to provide for the continued growth of the haibun and tanka prose genres.

In case you need to know where else you might send your work, I recommend a visit to the Haiku Genre Journals website which lists a large number of journals that carry haibun. And if you know of any other haibun or multigenre journals that aren’t on the website, please inform me and I’ll add them. Of course, please consider sending your work to CHO’s new editorial team.

In closing I have a strong appreciation of the dedication of our volunteer editors with whom I’ve had the privilege to work in producing HT. These include the present staff of Patricia Prime (Resources), Terri French and Rich Youmans (haibun), and Tish Davis and Tim Gardiner (tanka prose). A bow also to past editors Melissa Allen, Janet Lynn Davis, Glenn G. Coats, Ruth Holzer, Claire Everett and, of course, founder/editor Jeffrey Woodward.

I would also like to thank haibunist Michael Rehling who has provided technical assistance and his computer server to carry our issues and, I want to mention, other haiku-genre journals at no cost. Mike founded and edits Failed Haiku (multigenre with an emphasis on senryu as the poem form).

With a good deal of sadness,

Ray Rasmussen, General Editor, Haibun Today




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