INSIDE:

NEWS/STORIES/ARTICLES
Book Reviews
Columns/Opinion/Cartoon
Films
International
National

NW/Local
Recipes
Special A.C.E. Stories

Sports
Online Paper (PDF)

CLASSIFIED SECTION
Bids & Public Notices

NW Job Market

NW RESOURCE GUIDE

Archives
Consulates
Organizations
Scholarships
Special Sections

Upcoming

The Asian Reporter 19th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet -
Thursday, April 20, 2017 

Asian Reporter Info

About Us

Advertising Info.

Contact Us
Subscription Info. & Back Issues

 

 

ASIA LINKS
Currency Exchange

Time Zones
More Asian Links

Copyright © 1990 - 2016
AR Home

 

The Asian Reporter's
BOOK REVIEWS


From The Asian Reporter, V14, #34 (August 17, 2004), page 15 and 16.

A new twist

Haiku

Selected and edited by Peter Washington

Knopf, 2003

Hardcover, 256 pages, $12.50

By Josephine Bridges

The old pond —

A straw sandal sunk to the bottom,

Sleet falling.

Buson’s vision of winter is only one of dozens of haiku collected here that give "old material a new twist," as Peter Washington characterizes this venerable and popular poetic form in his Foreword to this anthology. Included are not only R. H. Blyth’s "pioneering translations" of Japanese haiku from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, but also traditional and non-traditional Western haiku. Quite a few surprises wait between the covers of this little book, all of them pleasant.

Haiku is thematically arranged. The Japanese poems gravitate into chapters like "Happiness," "Phases of the Moon," and "Creatures." Ryuho writes:

Scooping up the moon

In the wash-basin,

And spilling it.

Animals are the subject of many of the haiku gathered here. This collection is especially rich in birds, several with Japanese names, which have a chapter all their own. Kikaku writes:

Its first note;

The uguisu

Is upside-down.

One of two poems about snakes that make an appearance here, Kyoshi’s haiku is a splendid little mystery:

The snake slid away,

But the eyes that stared at me

Remained in the grass.

R.H. Blythe believed that many haiku are "buried" in familiar English poems. Such Western haiku included in this collection are nothing short of astonishing. Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Thoreau, Coleridge, and Langston Hughes all provide fine examples, but Gerard Manley Hopkins and Walt Whitman wrote my favorites. Here’s Hopkins:

As a dare-gale skylark

Scanted in a dull cage

Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house.

And here’s Whitman:

Far in the stillness,

A cat

Languishes loudly.

Non-traditional Western haiku by Pound, Rilke, Kerouac, Snyder, and a number of other poets new to me bring this collection to a close. William Carlos Williams’ poem "The Hurricane" is my current favorite:

The tree lay down

on the garage roof

and stretched, You

have your heaven,

it said, go to it.

Haiku has another treat in store for readers like me who miss those little ribbon bookmarks. And those whose New Years’ resolutions aren’t quite working out can commiserate with Matsuo:

New Year’s Day;

The desk and bits of paper —

Just as last year.

 

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon