Today, haiku is being written all over the globe. The Winter 2010 issue of Frogpond, for example, featured poems from twenty-one countries. These poets naturally bring their own cultural and religious inheritances to the haiku tradition.
Religion, of course, has influenced how each of us views the world and our place in it. This is true not only for “believers” who subscribe to a specific religious tradition, but also for those who are broadly religious but do not follow a single religion, are agnostic or indifferent, or are even staunchly anti-religious. The constellation of our ethics and values; sense of community; understanding of the meaning and purpose of the world; perception of reality and time; and much more are grounded in the religious-cultural heritage of the society in which we have been raised.
How are these assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs carried into haiku? What are the key ideas and concepts of the major religions, and how do haiku poets today reflect and elaborate these? These questions will be the mandate for this column.
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