Ray Rasmussen has compiled a beautiful series of haiga that incorporate poetry by many distinguished poets, focused on direct and indirect perceptions of aging.
“Recently, after getting a good report card in my yearly physical, a friend said “That’s great – you have a free pass for another year.” As if the issue of age doesn’t confront me each time I look in the mirror while doing my morning shave. As if tomorrow I won’t experience the same age issues that I did today.
“Senior Citizen” is meant to be an honorific. People, especially those who are younger, talk glibly about the “Opportunities of Retirement” as if they can’t wait to reach retirement age. Businesses pitch “The Golden Years” while promoting their products and retirement communities. However, one can’t help but be aware that one’s friends are suffering from various infirmities, that the clock is winding down, that seniors are for the most part “warehoused.”
Given the immediacy of the aging issue for me and that much of my writing is focused on this period of my life, I decided to put together a collection of images and poems by some by the more well known contemporary haiku and tanka poets who, not surprisingly, are in the same age boat as me.
The problem with putting together this type of collection is that it gives the impression that during this period of life one dwells mostly on aging. But for the most part we writers enjoy creative lives and so far as I know don’t dwell on the subject.
I’d also hope that you’d see the irony in this presentation – it’s partly about the beauty of age in nature and the enjoyment and sharing of poetry as much as a lament about aging. It’s only in the last decades that I’ve learned to better appreciate the beauty around me. The camera lens and poetry have served me well as a meditative focus.
The series displays photography that has the feel of aging. Most often, the haiku and tanka poems beneath the images will not directly describe the image – you’ll have to stretch your mind a bit to see the relationship or perhaps what you see won’t be the one I intended when I selected images for the various poems.
I hope that you enjoy this collection, but I suspect that it makes for somewhat melancholy reading. If so, perhaps a shot of whiskey or cup of hot chocolate by the fireside will help as we approach the season of winter.”