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Topics - Larry Bole

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Reading things here and elsewhere recently has led me to wondering what English-language books on the subject of haiku people have read.

What books do people think are essential for an understanding of the Japanese haiku tradition? And what books may not be essential, but are important to people for one reason or another?

And I'm also curious, if the same books appear over and over (assuming anyone finds this topic interesting), how many people who frequent this site, particularly those under 40 let's say, have read these books?

And finally, does one need to understand the Japanese haiku tradition in order to be an accomplished English-language haiku poet? If not, then reading these books becomes merely academic. I bring this up because I think there are two approaches being taken toward English-language haiku writing today: attempting to follow the Japanese haiku tradition as closely as possible in English, and following what I call a 'concept' of what a haiku is. These two things often overlap, or at least touch on each other, but they are not necessarily always the same thing. I think the 'concept' of haiku approach to writing English-language haiku has developed out of the numerous attempts  over the years by various English-language authors/authorities to define for an English-language audience just what a haiku is.  These definitions have tended to be, in my estimation, inclusive as opposed to exclusive; and in order to be as inclusive as possible, have created a 'concept' of what a haiku is that doesn't always correlate to the Japanese haiku tradition. Of course, a number of modern practitioners of haiku in Japan (since Shiki) haven't always conformed to the Japanese haiku tradition either. Anyway...

My list of English-language books I consider essential for an understanding of the Japanese haiku tradition are:

Blyth's 4 -vol. Haiku, and 2 - vol. History Haiku. These books would be even more essential if Blyth had provided more background and contextual information than he does about the haiku translated.

Ueda, Modern Japanese Haiku (for the introduction)

Miner, Japanese Linked Poetry

Miner and Odagiri, The Monkey's Straw Raincoat and Other Poetry of the Basho School

Higginson, The Haiku Handbook

Higginson, The Haiku Seasons

Ueda, Basho and His Interpreters (for its glimpse of Japanese haiku criticism)

Shirane, Traces of Dreams (along with Blyth, the most essential of the essential)

Keene, Dawn to the West (section on The Modern Haiku)

Kawamoto, The Poetics of Japanese Verse (Chapter 2, The Poetics of the Haiku)

Qiu, Basho and the Dao


And books I've found important, but not absolutely essential:

Henderson, An Introduction to Haiku

Mayhew, Monkey's Raincoat

Giroux, The Haiku Form

Beichman, Masaoka Shiki

Gill and Gerstle, ed., Rediscovering Basho (some of the chapters)

Nakagawa, Studies on English Haiku

Kametaro, Messages from Matsuyama


--Larry





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