Favorite Haiku, Vol. I, by H.F. “Tom” Noyes, is our Book of the Week. Short, learned, artfully-worded personal responses to individual haiku have been practiced as a separate genre by the Japanese for a long time, and an increasing number of western writers, inspired by them, have taken it up. R.H. Blyth was the first to publish great numbers of these short write-ups, along with his English translations of Japanese haiku, and his commentaries and histories are largely credited with establishing the reputation of Japanese haiku among English readers today. H.F. Noyes turned his talents toward the challenge of more modern haiku, written by poets from around the world. The result has been five volumes of his insightful, inspirational commentaries, written between 1975 and 1998, edited and published by Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press. THF Digital Library contains PDFs of all five volumes.
I like to think of them as prescriptions for the ills induced by modern living, each including a haiku pill, and suggestions on how to take it.
when I have sat long enough
the red dragonfly
comes to the wheatgrass
Bashô taught that we need to leave ample time for the subject-object dichotomy to heal before we’re open to the haiku experience. This readiness is often signaled by a kind of glimmer or shimmering, showing that the peripheral mind is in play, the rational mind in suspension. In the instance of this poet’s observations, the rational mind would never have singled out such an “insignificant” happening. But to the non-discriminating mind the red dragonfly’s visit has become unified with her contemplative sitting. The dragonfly comes to visit her own spirit in that wheatgrass. And that is noteworthy.
You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.
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Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Garry Eaton, and are used with permission.