The haiku handbook: How to write, share, and teach haiku

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9780070287860: The haiku handbook: How to write, share, and teach haiku

The Haiku Handbook is the first book to give readers everything they need to begin appreciating, writing, or teaching haiku. In this groundbreaking and now-classic volume, the authors present haiku poets writing in English, Spanish, French, German, and five other languages on an equal footing with Japanese poets. Not only are the four great Japanese masters of the haiku represented (Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki) but also major Western authors not commonly known to have written poetry in this form, including Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac and Richard Wright.

With a new foreword by poet, translator, and author Jane Reichhold ( Basho: The Complete Haiku), this anniversary edition presents a concise history of the Japanese haiku, including the dynamic changes throughout the twentieth century as this beloved poetry form has been adapted to modern and urban settings. Full chapters are offered on form, the seasons in haiku, and haiku craft, plus background on the Japanese poetic tradition and the effect of translation on our understanding of haiku. Other unique features are chapters on teaching and sharing haiku, with lesson plans for both elementary and secondary school use; a seasonal word index of poetic words; a comprehensive glossary; and a list of enduring classic resources for further exploration. By any standard, The Haiku Handbook is the defining volume in the genre.

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About the Author:


WILLIAM J. HIGGINSON (1938-2008) has been called "the guru of American haiku." For over 40 years, Higginson translated, wrote, commented about, lectured and taught haiku. He was the author or editor of more than 30 books.

PENNY HARTER is a much-published and award-winning poet, a poet-in-residence for the New Jersey State Council of the Arts and a teacher who travels widely giving workshops and lectures.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

[Following is the first section in Chapter 1, "Why Haiku?"]

Haiku Happen

We often see or sense something that gives us a bit of a lift, or a moment's pure sadness. Perhaps it is the funnies flapping in the breeze before a newsstand on a sunny spring day. Or some scent on the wind catches us as we step from the bus, or bend to lift the groceries from the car. Something tickles our ankle and, looking down to see what it is, we see more:

a baby crab
climbs up my leg--
such clear water

Or we are lying awake, alone with our thoughts, and as we turn to look at the clock

at midnight
a distant door
pulled shut

and we find ourselves more alone, because of the being on the other side of that door, than when we had no thoughts for others anywhere in the world.

The first of these two short poems was written about three hundred years ago by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. The second is by a twentieth-century Japanese poet, Ozaki Hosai. Both poems are haiku.

Moments that can give rise to haiku are not foreign to the Americas. Mark Cramer has translated the following poem, originally written in Spanish by the Mexican poet Jose Juan Tablada a few years before Hosai wrote "at midnight":

Tender willow
almost gold, almost amber,
almost light...

And just recently New Jerseyan Penny Harter found

the old doll
her mama box broken
to half a cry

Haiku happen all the time, wherever there are people who are "in touch" with the world of their senses, and with their own feeling response to it.

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