The Book of the Week is 100 People, 100 Ku, a selection of haiku by 100 different Japanese authors, chosen from the 10,000 in the International Haiku Database, compiled, translated into English, and published with commentary by staff of The Research Group for Human Information at the University of Gronigen in 1981. As it was never published, we are fortunate it was saved for us by a former student at Groningen, Jan Kellendonk.
The commentaries, by Helen Shigeko Isaacson, an expert in Japanese haiku, are particularly interesting for the light they throw on Japanese culture and haiku practice. Here is one example:
To tie the obi / the back was turned keri / first mirror
First mirror: the first time in the New Year that one uses the mirror to dress, hence, the mirror on New Years morning. The obi is a separate sash for the kimono, more than two meters in length, that is wound around the waist a few times and wound in different styles around the back. The materials and widths will vary with each season. This ku begins with a small, ordinary act, and moves to a motion of the entire body. Keri has essentially the same meaning as kana, but comes after a verb. The last line contains the largest thought unit of the three and is motionless, making a polarity with the idea of the first line.
You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.
Do you have a chapbook published 2010 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.
Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Garry Eaton, and are used with permission