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2nd Sailing

Sails is a section of troutswirl that is devoted to presenting questions for discussion and debate on the nature and possibilities of haiku. Sails will be overseen by Peter Yovu. For an introduction to this section, see Sails.

1st Sailing

2nd Sailing

presented by
Peter Yovu


“What do you read again and again? Why?”

John Stevenson

Some of you may recall this question having been posed by John Stevenson in Frogpond (Volume XXVII:1, p 81). He was then Jim Kacian’s associate editor, and was shortly to take over as editor on his own. I believe this question, good then and just as good now, is a wonderful follow-up to our first question, “Why do you read?” John has given me permission to reprint here, modified only slightly, his introduction to the question, an introduction in which he elegantly provides his own response. I could not do better, or equal it, so here is what John wrote:

“There are a few books that I find myself reading periodically as a means of renewing my efforts to write true haiku. Some of them were written by poets who are still living and whose company is a great comfort. And some are the works of poets no longer with us and who may have departed before there was any opportunity to express my gratitude to them. This is the case with John Wills, and particularly with his 1987 collection, Reed Shadows. The book contains haiku of a consistently superior order, imbued with extraordinary restraint and uncompromising simplicity and directness. He seems to have faith in his readers and to leave them the task of discovering for themselves what he has experienced. This is a tonic after reading (and writing) so much haiku that tells more than it should. For [many years], I have read Reed Shadows at least once a year and I believe it has steadied me . . .

I would like to hear from [Troutswirl] readers on the subject of which haiku collections serve them in this way. Which individual collections of haiku have proven themselves a continuing influence and inspiration for you? What do you read again and again? Why?”

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. On the Pacific side, the collections I return to over and over again are the following:
    Volumes 1-4 of R.H. Blyth’s Haiku, plus his History of Haiku in two parts, and some other rare treasures of his work I managed to acquire. These are probably the most important books in the development of English language haiku and they highly influenced Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. I also love Santoka Taneda’s “Mountain Tasting” which is now back in print thanks to White Pine Press. Every time I read it, I find another jewel. Such richness for a mendicant Soto Zen monk. I also love Saito’s haiku in “The Kobe Hotel”. Saito was one of the “non-traditional” poets that Kyoshi’s side tossed in Jail during WWII. Burton Watson’s translations of Shiki, masterful, and Ueda’s translations of Issa and Buson, also masterful. So we are blessed now with some powerhouse translators. Unfortunately most of them are emeritus and are impermanent like all things.

    On this side of the pacific, I return to Karma Tenzing Wangchuk’s “90 Frogs”– a modern classic. I also return to work by Raymond Roseleip, J.W. Hackett, Bob Boldman, Jerry Kilbride, and vincent tripi. There are others such as John Martone, George Dorsty, Larry Kimmel, Bruce Ross, they all have contributed in their own way. The are original voices, not followers/imitator’s, but bring something from the past haiku poets, but walk their own path. A true poet’s company is from the past and present.

    I know I’m not including everyone, just too many to mention here. It is also so subjective, but the key is to respect each poets take on life and poetry.
    May the haiku gods shine upon us! Stanford M. Forrester

  2. Merrill Ann,

    I also have that Japanese poetry collection, The Country of Eight Islands . John Stevens has two book translations out of Ryokan’s writings. I have the ‘One Robe, One Bowl’…wonderful poetry. Thy are both still availible.

    best wishes, Ron

  3. Paul Reps’ Zen Telegrams is described on its inside cover as “79 PICTURE-POEMS”. Here is one picture-poem to which I return again and again when the tumult of living “inside the beltway” proves too much:

    a bowl of green tea
    I stopped the war

    My thanks to Stan Forrester for my copy of this wonderful little book.

  4. My son, when he was 4 or 5, referred to milk as “ocean white”. When I was that age, many people ago, cream cheese, especially on rye, was oral heaven. Once in a while even now it has that fullness of flavor that recreates for me the golden merger of infant with mother, or childhood with early summer… Perhaps cream cheese was better in those days, but more likely, my taste buds have worn down somewhat, and the sensorium of my being has dulled.

    But the soul, if you will, retains its keen receptors, something I am well aware of when reading certain poems, most often haiku. Maybe I come back to some of Lippy’s poems because they bring me, in full simplicity, to some essence of Vermont, particularly to late summer and fall feelings, so that I come to believe that his experience was both personal and essential, and meets me where mine is also essential. It may simply be that he appears to have a melancholy temperament, and is drawn, as I often am, to the seasons and times of day that reflect this.

    But on another level, I am drawn to his work because he is capable of doing something which seldom realizes itself in my own work: he makes, or should I say, discovers, subtle connections between things, between senses, and locates them in a season in ways that utterly transcend technique or any imperative to include this or that in haiku.

    summer dawn
    of the egg’s taper

  5. Ron, I love Ryokan too. I only have a few of the poems in the anthology
    From The Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry. In that one volume is a treasure trove of fine Japanese poets.

  6. Why do I come back to certain poems/poets??? Basically since I am verbally challenged myself…I think in terms of lines…literal lines drawn to
    a shape that catches my eye…I came to haiku/poetry through art. When I come to poets who do that with words, it catches me in mid-air…fills me with the excitement of the mute finally speaking!

    I am
    along the hedgerow
    Jim Kacian from SIX Directions

    Japanese garden
    in the fog
    —the shape of parting
    In Memory
    Wilma M. Erwin
    vincent tripi from between God & the pine

    Thanks Alice – so glad someone else loves SIX Directions. There is something quite wonderful about a plain simple word…a normal every day stone that you tread upon each day …when caught by the poet reveals the light inside and sings to you!

  7. There are many qualities I prize in the haiku I love, but foremost is one which not all partake of, what I call indescribable rightness. There are poems about which I can say almost nothing, whose sounds, rhythms, images and interplays may be quite ordinary, but whose overall effect is immediately grounding, centering, and based on the truth of a moment. Burnell Lippy’s

    deep in the sink
    the great veins of chard
    summer’s end

    is one such poem, among others in *late geese up a dry fork*.

  8. in response to Peter’s nudge-nudge:

    every poet/collection of poems brings me back for different reasons.

    as for Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love:

    These poems teach me about kigo. They combine and pit images against one another with both whimsy and depth–hardly a cliche´ moment here. Some poems take flights of fancy and others dig in dark soil; some build a bridge between. They use words like “patriotism” and “e´migre´s”. They reflect experiences that I don’t think get a whole lot of airtime in haiku. Perhaps at the core, I can relate to this life she describes (experienced through a woman’s body in an urban area ) in the 21rst century when the boundaries between nature and culture have surely slipped and slided into an ever shifting construction that someone with Fay’s sensibility can point out to us: how deeply do we understand the interconnectedness between junkies and sparrows?

    New Year’s mirror
    I practice the smile
    of a dictator

    migrating birds
    the weight
    of my first voter’s guide

    unexpected pregnancy
    she spits out
    watermelon seeds

    Hiroshima Day–
    a cat pokes and pokes
    a cicada shell

    lopsided moon
    I count the syllables
    in ‘patriotism’

    yellow daffodils
    the urge to
    buy a banjo

  9. What a lovely place to come and read conversations between friends with a common love. I would have to say in response to both questions that reading haiku is the backbone of my own practice.

    The Haiku Anthologies edited by Cor van den Heuvel and the selected poems of Nick Virgilio (sent to me by my good friend Gene Murtha) always set me on the path when I become a little wayward and have been my atime favourites. There is something about the feel, rhythm and taste of good quality haiku that can’t help but inspire one to push their own boundaries through sheer enjoyment of the form. My favourite poets published by Brooks Books, Red Moon Press and Snapshot Press are always on my shopping list.

    I have collected books from the authors if possible and I have always found them willing to share their work and bend over backwards to help me find an out of print copy of their work. I have always thought I would bring out a collection of my own when the time was right. I have never felt doing so was an ego thing, more of a wondrous way to add a little back to the stream. My own writing would have been so much poorer if other poets had never published their work, which we then can all study and be inspired by if we wish.

    I have always enjoy the hermit poets and in particular Santoka and Ryokan. Another book I hold very dear is Mitsu Suzuki’s Temple Dusk, she was the devoted wife of the late Shunryu Suzuki who encouraged and helped her to write haiku as a practice… that always effects me deeply is this one below and a good place for me to finish.

    In haiku friendship….Ron Moss

    haiku mind
    soaking through
    red grass

    Mitsu Suzuki

  10. Great responses – thanks folks! I’ve noted many of my favorites already listed, most notably Peggy Lyles’ “To Hear the Rain” and John Wills’ “Reed Shadows.”

    Others I’ve read far more than twice are the collections of work by Charles B. Dickson and Wally Swist. I’m especially drawn to haiku poets who never fail to remind me that haiku is poetry, even if “poetics” might be frowned upon in today’s ELH world.

    Aside from the individual collections, one of my all-time favorite resources is “A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988.” I’ve read it cover to cover three times and return to it repeatedly as a reference book. When I discovered the haiku community, I was immediately enthralled and wanted to “catch up” with what I’d missed. I wanted to know everything I could possibly learn, and this amazing book made me feel as though I was right there with all the North American pioneers who brought us to this remarkable place we are today. If this book is still available from the Haiku Society of America, it is worth four times its price.

  11. Response to Eve Luckring, Sailings #2. You bet we can ” expand this discussion to what poetry we read over and over again that falls outside the genre of haiku”. Feels connected, certainly, to the current question, but also separate. I’ve already considered it, and have thought the question will be framed around looking at poets who do not write haiku but whose poetry might be considered to have a haiku sensibility. When that question is posted (in the near future I suppose), I will encourage people to take the extra step and articulate ***why*** you come back to a particular book or poet. But for now, nudge, nudge– ***why*** do you come back to Fay Aoyagi, or John Martone, or vincent tripi, or…

  12. Just a few thoughts about anthologies, prompted by Alice Frampton’s post:

    The anthologies edited by Cor van den Heuvel and the one by Bruce Ross have undoubtedly played a significant role in the educations of many haiku poets. THA 3rd ed. and Haiku Moment were the first elh books I owned, and I used them primarily to get a sense of “who’s who” and to identify poets whose works I wanted to explore in greater depth. So I see anthologies, above all, as offering invaluable orientation to newcomers and those not actively involved in the haiku scene. It has been a decade since Cor’s 3rd ed. was published, so I feel we’re really in need of an updated anthology at this point, one that reflects the explosion of elh on the Internet and globally.

    Many of the poets in THA 3rd ed. have done a lot of important work since 1999. And obviously quite a few significant haiku poets have emerged (or emerged more fully) since then and would now probably be deserving of anthologisation. For starters, I think of poets who have had a substantial impact on recent haiku history through critically-acclaimed collections and/or new stylistic approaches, often supplemented by major publishing, editing, and critical work that has had an impact as well–figures such as Fay Aoyagi; John Barlow; Roberta Beary; Stanford M. Forrester; Carolyn Hall; John Martone; Scott Metz; Marian Olson; Peter Yovu. You won’t find any of them in THA 3rd. And there are quite a few others newer to the scene (relatively speaking) who are accumulating large bodies of high-quality haiku and would no doubt merit at least being considered for inclusion in a new anthology.

    In addition, a historical anthology might reach further back to include at least small samples of pioneering efforts by the Imagists, Paul Reps, the Beats, Richard Wright, usw. (The only figure along these lines included in THA 3rd ed. is Jack Kerouac.)

    It would be nice to have a new anthology that gauges where we are, roughly, at the end of each decade. Inevitably, though, such anthologies would probably have to grow simultaneously both bigger and more selective. Above all, it’s important that they reflect the diversity of the contemporary scene. That’s something I think Cor was able to do quite admirably in the past.

  13. These posts have been most illuminating.

    How core this relationship between the practice of writing and those poems/poets that beckon our return over and over.

    Since it is impossible to cite all of the work that holds me in this way, and since so many have been mentioned already, I will restrain from making a big list.

    Two collections that jolted my sense of what haiku can do and inspired me through the mastery of its form:

    •Chrysanthemum Love by Fay Aoyagi
    •Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, translated by Makoto Ueda

    And for poems that give me a good work-out as a reader for their understated-ness, baffling me as often as they go straight to the depths of me:

    •Right under the big sky, I don’t wear a hat: The Haiku and Prose of Hosai Ozaki, translated by Hiroaki Sato

    someday, might we expand this discussion to what poetry we read over and over again that falls outside the genre of haiku ?? I would find it most
    fascinating to also hear what people are reading in other forms of poetry outside the japanese traditions.

  14. I’m with Merrill, this is a great list from which to draw many more fine reads. Not mentioned yet, I believe, are the Red Moon Anthologies. So many great poems from so many different poets from around the world — different voices on every page. I go back to them repeatedly. All poems and longer pieces are nominated and voted on by 11 outstanding editors, reaching journals, books, and contests I could never hope to keep up with on my own.
    And then my personal favorite “Six Directions” by Jim Kacian. It’s a treasure and I never lend it, as it’s out of print. It doesn’t ride in my back pocket, either. For when I want to get down and dirty with the land I reread it cover to cover. Very soothing!
    Bruce’s “Haiku Moment” and Cor’s “Haiku Anthology #3” are my bibles. When I need to research a poem from ‘ago’ it is most likely in one of those two books.

  15. Allen, I’m glad you like my drawing for vincent. I had a lot of trepidation about doing it…He’s done so much for so many poets. My favorite book of his is “monk & i”. Here’s a few things that mean a lot to me from that book: “Poems are our bridge to where we’ve come from…are going. Get lost there!” vt.WJ. “We walk in grace. All of us who walk the haiku path.”
    “It is grace that brings the moment, is the moment…allows for the moment’s imperfection.” “Imperfection, paradoxically speaking, is a circle. In this circle we are alone…we are together with our wildness.” vt.2001 Watching Journal.
    someplace in the galaxy,
    first cricket song vincent tripi from “monk & i”
    Then from “paperweight for nothing”
    Pine woods…
    i look for the perfect place
    to be a Christmas tree
    All change is wild
    vincent tripi
    He’s been like “papa tripi”…all giving like Christmas. I have two copies of “monk & i” andif I knew where to send one to keep for all poets to read I’d love to do that. vincent’s helped me to wonder at my own “wild” things.

  16. Peter has asked two questions. Books that influenced me & books I go back to. They overlap, of course.

    There is always a primacy v. recency dichotomy. And pushing it, perhaps the book I get next. Sure to be several at HNA Ottawa! My first two were Hass and Higginson (Handbook). I have my snout in Bill’s saijiki: Haiku World all the time as I am a playuh of Renku. Early on, came the anthologies ed. by Bruce Ross and Cor. Eye openers to the English Masters. Opened repeatedly.

    As I shifted to other English-language collections when they came available and as I “came of age,” were books by Gurga, Gay, Kacian, Lamb, Herold, Evetts, Spiess, Gilli, Dickson, Hall, Stevenson, and Beary (and others not mentioned but no slight intended). I packed some of these in my luggage to bring with me to Maine this summer. The smaller ones — smile.

    I have read and reread all of these. Yet, just exactly as K. Ramesh extolled . . . To Hear The Rain by Peggy Willis Lyles is my favorite collection by a single author. As Allan mentions, I also have no connection to Brooks Books, but I am glad to count Peggy as a close friend — and teacher. Spiess was one of my first teachers. Of course he was a major Editor . . . and was kind to this raw newcomer. Sometimes it was years before words in his ballpoint scrawl (as he rejected a poem) came into sharp focus — and I found the flaws he did.

    This brings up another “book” no one has yet mentioned. Journals of haiku. Modern Haiku certainly. Among the other current ones: Acorn, Frogpond, and I hope folks will put The Heron’s Nest up there. It is a bridge to the electronic, but always in print, too. The electronic journals? Yes, if they have an Archive to scroll through. Many folks, I as well, do like paper in hand . . . not a mouse and keyboard.

    Texts about haiku have been listed — I too. Professor Ueda’s Basho and His Interpreters gets opened often enough. I have 6 volumes of Blyth, but only open them to search for a specific haiku — I have not reread much from them. Good reference. Paul O. Williams collection of haiku essays and speeches (Nick of Time) is one I have read several times. Above all in this category is Professor Haruo Shirane’s seminal work on Basho — his life and times: Traces of Dreams. It was published just months before the 1999 HNA in Evanston, IL. I had bought the book, ingested it figuratively, and it and his speech and question session in Evanston (Northwestern U. right on the Lake) seemed to explode onto the haiku scene, and blew it up, too. Wonderful translations, but the theory of haiku (and renku) is covered most importantly. He shocked me and some of the audience by reporting that Zen was hardly known in Japan or by Japanese haiku writers and editors. He also downplayed its influence, there was one and he so acknowledged, on the Classic Masters. His “vertical axis” as cultural referent awakened the audience and filled in a lot of blanks about Japanese haiku, kigo, allusion, and the success of brevity in our chosen poetic form of study. Part of his speech was later requested and published in Modern Haiku.

    I have left out, some other writers here did not miss, though, books of related forms. For me it is Burton Watson’s bio and translation of waka by Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home. He lived in the 12th Century! Ever so readable today — I can see why Old Basho was influenced and even visited some of the same Saigyo places as did pilgrims of Basho’s day. Today, there is a trail of Basho sites. Both hermits.

    Reading through my old notebooks keeps me humble! Some of the pages I turn very quickly.

    So: Shirane, Saigyo, Spiess, Higginson, and Lyles. Good starting places at least.
    – Paul (MacNeil)

  17. Deep Shade Flickering Sunlight , O Mabson Southard (Brooks Books, 2004)

    some favorites of mine from the collection:

    So my eyes may rest–
    my comet-watching sister
    lets me comb her hair

    In our dark tryst-spring
    my sister shows me her self–
    and a dawn-tipped spruce

    By her childhood name
    I call and call my sister–
    and so do the cliffs

  18. Allan invited me to suggest books that have influenced my writing. When I started out one of my first books was Harold G. Henderson’s An Introduction To Haiku (I actually have two copies, why I don’t know). Also I read Haiku by R.H. Blyth Haiku and A history Of Haiku right after Henderson’s book. Cor’s The Haiku Anthology was of course a big influence. I felt very lucky to later get into the third edition. I found The Wordless Poem by Eric Amann a must read. One book I look at now and then is A Hidden Pond edited Koko Kato. Its an anthology of modern haiku masters. I have a copy of Four Seasons also edited by Kato and its a small thick season word anthology in both English and Japanese. I have an old copy of Season Words In English Haiku by the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society (1980) although I am not a must use kigo guy, I still like to look and see what seasons some words belong in. I enjoy reading and rereading Fig Newtons Senryu To Go as I love senryu (hey I’m in it too). As someone has said Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love is a favorite book. She’s a great writer. So many books in my library its really hard to single them out.

  19. Merrill Ann: I like your drawing of vincent tripi on the back of paperweight for nothing. Thanks for the heads-up about a new book of his.

    I think time in haiku is a fascinating subject. Maybe Peter will take it up in a future Sails….

    Ah water-strider never to have left a track!
    –vincent tripi

  20. Allen, I’m so glad you mentioned the “prosaic lesson” re: Jim Kacian’s style. One time I was so frustrated in that I wanted to write a haiku that could capture what I was experiencing with time…time for me is seldom circular…as well as the fact that it was at the time when it first became noticable that the seasons were out of whack… and he told me to just write it. I never could capture it. After reading what you are saying and after reading some of his books, your ” prosaic lesson” may be the key.
    It is so helpful to hear what poets “learn” from the books they read! Thanks

  21. *Tired finger correction here too: “he’s working on it now….” at least I think he is.

  22. So many wonderful books to track down…so many to remember to reread!
    Allan: Check to see when vincent tripi’s new book comes out I think he’s working on in now…I agree. He’s been a big help to me as he has to so many. There are also books I want to go to again and try to learn from. One of them is one I’ve had in my collection for awhile and have wanted time to really immerse myself in it. “Understanding Haiku: A Pyramid of Meaning” by Kai Falkman – Red Moon Press. I think it’s out of print. Now to get out my trusty pen and copy down some of the titles above …to open my mind a bit. I am so grateful to you all and to all the titles you’ve provided. Thank you.

  23. Scott’s comment:

    “There is also a stunning collection by Marlene Mountain inside my head that I return to quite often, its title changing each time I revisit it.”

    makes me contemplate the gaps in the current literature. There are a number of veterans of the haiku scene whose books are oop and in some cases expensive collectors’ items. We hope THF’s Digital Library will eventually help address this issue. In some cases we could really use new career-retrospective collections. In addition to Marlene Mountain, I think particularly of Cor van den Heuvel and Anita Virgil. A nice selected volume of James W. Hackett’s very best would be welcome too, as those are defining classics of the movement’s inception. Any ambitious haiku publishers listening?

    I’ve also thought of three short but challenging collections I’d like to throw out there too for adventurous readers:

    Wind the Clock by Bittersweet, Bill Pauly (High/Coo Press, 1977; haiku + concrete poems; probably hard to find, though)

    Bird Day Afternoon, Matsuo Allard (High/Coo Press, 1978; some pioneering one-liners; still available last I saw from Brooks Books for something like $3.50; note: I am only affiliated w. BB as a satisfied customer)

    waking on the bridge, Martin Shea (Red Moon Press, 2008)

  24. Book shops in India do not store haiku collections. Yet, I have managed to collect a few books, thanks to my haiku friends. When I met Dr Angelee Deodhar in Chandigarh, she gave me a copy of “To Hear the Rain”, a haiku book authored by Peggy Lyles. Every time when I read the book, I am in touch with the extraordinary in the ordinary. There is something universal about these haiku moments. For example, when I read

    small talk
    snap beans

    I can visualize my mother and my sister sitting in the back yard with a bowl full of beans. I can see the sun lit curtains and other details in the room. Ever since I read this poem, I have been reminded of it, whenever I see a mother and daughter engaged in this manner.

    I wish to write about so many other haiku in the book, But I also feel that what I have mentioned here is enough. I like the haiku and I go back to them, to enjoy the moments and also to learn about the art form.

  25. Re: books I come back to– when I have a bit more space I will likely say a few things about Burnell Lippy’s work. And after that about John Stevenson’s, and Ko Un’s… I list to think of the list. So, I expect to revisit this question and others more than once, and like the idea that a year from now I can come back here, or to a Viral, and say the thing that didn’t get said until it was picked up on a distant staircase. (I wrote *starcase* at first, make of that what you will).

  26. Merrill Ann (& all),

    I mentioned earlier learning aspects of haiku from various books. One thing Presents of Mind showed me in particular was haiku needn’t be depictions of moments but can embrace longer spans of time–e.g.:

    the cold night
    comes out of the stones
    all morning

    all winter long
    smoke on the horizon
    in the same place

    That might seem a prosaic lesson to some sophisticated folks here, now, but at the time for me it was a bit of an epiphany. It’s an important aspect of Jim’s style, cutting against the dominant grain of the “haiku moment”. Nothing wrong with haiku moments, of course–love ’em myself–but not the be-all, end-all either.

    One other thing about Presents of Mind: It gets my vote for best haiku book *title* ever.

    Also–enjoyed seeing the overlap between my list and Chad’s (–and, btw, great to hear from you, Chad). A lot of the others you mention are also favorites of mine (Across the Windharp, Along the Way, breathmarks, Endgrain, Late Geese Up a Dry Fork, Sketches from the San Joaquin, Water Lines, Stanford’s books), and I walk away with a few recs, too.

    Gee, once you start listing, where do you stop?

    Some others not mentioned yet I’ve particularly enjoyed returning to:

    Circle of Thaw, Virginia Brady Young (Barlenmir House, 1972)
    Tracks on the River, Paul O. Williams (Coneflower Press, 1982)
    A Journal for Reflections, Ruth Yarrow (The Crossing Press, 1988)
    bending with the wind, Nick Avis (Breakwater, 1993)
    Grinding my ink, Margaret Chula (Katsura Press, 1993)
    In the Margins of the Sea, Christopher Herold (Snapshot Press, 2000)
    Earthjazz, Martin Lucas (Ram Publications, 2003)
    ebb tide, John Crook (Snapshot Press, 2003)
    Lull before dark, Caroline Gourlay (Brooks Books, 2005)
    Turn to the Earth, Peter Yovu (Saki Press, 2005)
    water poems, Kirsty Karkow (Black Cat Press, 2005)
    called home, paul m. (Red Moon Press, 2006)
    The Horse with One Blue Eye, Cherie Hunter Day (Snapshot Press, 2006)
    Shaped by the Wind, Ferris Gilli (Snapshot Press, 2006)
    Swamp Candles, Jack Barry (Down-to-Earth Books, 2006)
    long after, Jim Kacian (alba libri, 2008)
    All Nite Rain, Jack Barry (Down-to-Earth Books, 2009)

    Anything by vincent tripi, a haiku genius. Also, the (many!) little books of John Martone (whom Scott mentioned earlier) have a special magic. Marian Olson recently turned me on to Karma Tenzing Wangchuk’s delightful 90 frogs….

    And on it goes.

    Okay, I’ll stop (for now). I know Peter probably wants substantive discussion, not just lists. But how to do justice to it all? My feeling remains this collective literature we’re creating is quite rich. And that’s why I enjoy editing Montage.

  27. These posts are going to make a great reading list for me…I’ve treasured many of the volumes mentioned already. Allan mentions Jim Kacian’s Presents of Mind…I found his Six Directions a dear friend for years…It taught me a great deal about the “weight of words” – the tactile feeling. Also, I have to mention that John Stevenson puts out a little journal that captures the conversational quality of haiku friends….don’t miss his Upstate Dim Sum.

  28. The first books of haiku I ever encountered were The Haiku Anthology, 3rd edition, edited by Cor van den Heuvel, and Haiku Moment, edited by Bruce Ross. Both of these have great bibliographies that led me to journals and individual collections. I was at college when I first came across haiku, and the library there had Raymond Roseliep’s Rabbit in the Moon as well as Listen to Light. These four books paved my way to haiku.

    I have to say that Nick Virgilio’s Selected Haiku has probably had the most influence on me. What drew me to his work were the haiku he wrote about the loss of his brother. Many of those poems made me look at the loss of my own brother differently.

    The collections of haiku that I most admire are those that seem to be centered on place, those that offer a taste or feel of a certain region. That is something to be admired and something in which I strive for as a haiku poet. My list will give you a better idea (these are in no particular order):

    Across the Windharp – Elizabeth Searle Lamb
    The Silence Between Us – Wally Swist
    Reed Shadows – John Wills
    School’s Out – Randy Brooks
    A Path to the Garden – Christopher Herold
    A Moon in Each Eye – Charles Dickson
    Desert Hours – Marian Olson
    Endgrain – Dee Evetts
    Breath Marks – Gary Hotham (and any of his smaller collections as well)
    Mosquitoes & Moonlight – Robert Gilliland
    Presents of Mind – Jim Kacian
    Cicada Voices – Eric Amann
    Along the Way – Garry Gay (as well as his other collections)
    Fresh Scent – Lee Gurga
    Late Geese Up a Dry Fork – Burnell Lippy
    Open Window – Michael Dylan Welch
    Sketches of the San Joaquin – Michael McClintock
    The Essential Haiku – edited by Robert Hass

    My copy of Garry Gay’s Along the Way has taken quite a beating. It’s dirty, frayed at the edges, and some of the colors on the cover have rubbed off. I used to carry it around in my back pocket. I love how his haiku and senryu seem effortless.

    There are countless others I wish I could name here by authors such as Stanford M. Forrester, Mark Brooks, Carolyn Hall, John Barlow, George Swede, Peggy Willis Lyles, John Stevenson, and on and on and on . . .

  29. “Cold Mountain: 100 poems by the T’an poet Han-shan” translated by Burton Watson. … I know it’s not considered a haiku book…but consider this:
    “Who says the sparrow has no horn?” This line is in #41…it’s from “Book of Odes, Airs of Shao-nan, Hsing-lu”…”That is, though the fisherman bears me no ill, his songs poke holes of sadness in me.”
    “This place is finer than the one where I live!” – that’s the last line of #3. This book, and “The Country of Eight Islands:An Anthology of Japanese Poetry” translated and edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson seem to have created the “odes” in my mind that echo in a fine haiku. As I read journals, and blogs and letters from friends a sense of the song – bringing both old and new – “See how he pokes a hole in the roof!” (last line in #41)

  30. “Chysanthemum Love” over and over. In fact I just found it among the dusty remains of my beloved bookshelf and re-devoured it.

    A fitting review has already been written, but I’ll summarize – Led Zeppelin meets Sylvia Plath at an all night rave.

    It is a delicious peek through Aoyagi’s sheers – a must read for anyone who hopes to affect English-language haiku and an overlooked contributor to the American Hybrid canon.

    Dear Fay made haiku relevant!

    For those about to ‘ku, we salute you,


  31. The first haiku book I fell in love with was Nick Virgilio’s Selected Haiku. I reread it at least once a year. Virgilio’s best haiku still seem to me the most memorable and poignant English originals I’ve encountered.

    Ironically, though, when I began writing haiku seriously myself, I found my subject matter and style mostly did not resemble Virgilio’s work. As a writer, I felt I made the biggest stride toward my goals after immersing myself in the work of Robert Spiess (esp. The Turtle’s Ears and The Shape of Water) and John Wills (esp. Reed Shadows). Both possess an extraordinary feeling for natural imagery that at its best transcends mere sketching and intimates a deeper feeling of oneness with the cosmos. I always feel inspired when I return to their work, perhaps especially by the elegant concentration & concision of Wills’ finest haiku.

    Glancing at my haiku shelves, I would add the following as books that particularly stand out for having revealed aspects of haiku to me, for establishing my standards of excellence for the genre (in English), and for drawing me back time & again for sustenance:

    A Moon in Each Eye, Charles B. Dickson (AHA Books, 1993)
    Presents of Mind, Jim Kacian (Katsura Press, 1996)
    Fresh Scent, Lee Gurga (Brooks Books, 1998)
    Almost Unseen, George Swede (Brooks Books, 2000)
    A Path in the Garden, Christopher Herold (Katsura Press, 2000)
    To Hear the Rain, Peggy Willis Lyles (Brooks Books, 2002)
    quiet enough, John Stevenson (Red Moon Press, 2004)
    The Silence Between Us, Wally Swist (Brooks Books, 2005)
    Desert Hours, Marian Olson (Lily Pool Press, 2007)
    Wing Beats, John Barlow & Matthew Paul (& others; Snapshot Press, 2008)

    Right behind these are a host of other titles to which I intend no slight by singling out the above ten.

    In terms of translations of Japanese classics, Blyth’s four volumes and Robert Hass’s The Essential Haiku have been especially valuable to me.

  32. The Hiroaki Sato edition of Basho’s Narrow Road has been a constant delight for years. The intertextual information reforms one’s sense of the potential of haibun; to use Gilbert’s useful concept, Basho’s art of “cutting” is extremely complex, especially in light of his observation of the master distinction encoded in the gap between the parts of the haiku form. Sato’s en face notes open up meditative sites for issues raised by haiku form. As an editor, I hope the present ferment in haiku circles will help poets explore these potentials. And Peipei Qiu’s Basho and the Dao is always on the table as a remedy for boredom. I have some students who are doing wonderful things, and of course I keep reading them! Jamie Edgecombe is a painter-poet who has only begun to realize his promise. We live in interesting times!

    1. There are number of books I find myself returning to quite often.

      When it comes to individual collections, I find that I seek strong, distinct voices—poets that really have something to say and really have to say it, and say it in their own unique ways. I read them for inspiration, of course, but also to challenge me. I like these poets’ ku because they take chances with their work, and I find that greatly inspiring. There are a few collections I return to regularly:

      dogwood & honeysuckle by john martone
      A Future Waterfall by Ban’ya Natsuishi
      an apparent definition of wavering by Chris Gordon
      – any collection of Santōka’s work (though I especially enjoy Scott Watson’s translations: The Santōka & Santōka [Longhouse Press])
      The Kobe Hotel by Saito Sanki (trans by Saito Masaya)

      There is also a stunning collection by Marlene Mountain inside my head that I return to quite often, its title changing each time I revisit it.

      Besides individual collections though, there are a few anthologies that I always keep close and travel with—for their great variety, their overall high and consistent quality, and the great care and artistry put into their English versions:

      The Essential Haiku (versions of Bashō, Buson & Issa) by Robert Hass
      The Haiku Universe for the 21st Century published by Gendai Haiku Kyokai

      & the following two, which I put together and consider as one, something that should have been (or should be) a double album, with their backcovers glued together (not unlike the Beatles’ Rubber Soul & Revolver):

      Modern Japanese Haiku; An Anthology by Makoto Ueda (which should have been titled “The Haiku of Modern Japanese Men,” or something like that)
      Far Beyond the Field (Haiku by Japanese Women) by Makoto Ueda

  33. I like to read the big Japanese saijiki, because it does not only quote wonderful haiku but also explains the Japanese culture, the meaning of words that are not familiar and so on. Thus I can enrich my understanding of Japan and find my way through the four seasons … and the rainy season, which we “enjoy” right now at its best.

    Gabi from Okayama
    World Kigo Database

  34. I read simply haiku, modern haiku, frogpond, wisteria, and the heron’s nest as often as possible.

    I feel very closely connected with these publications though there are many others that are wonderful sources of inspiration. Many of these editors reply with kind and helpful criticism that make writers want to return.

    I read these publications to gain more knowledge about the history of haiku which will help me, as the founding editor of Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine to provide new possibilities and rewarding opportunities for writers. I hope to achieve a permanent connection with haiku and tanka writers and watch as our readership increases and our prizes increase significantly to match those of other prestigious poetry publications. This is my way of showing appreciation to the haiku community for the wealth of knowledge and guidance provided by wonderful writers like Ferris Gilli, Lenard Moore and Michael Dylan Welch.

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