Book of the Week: Dengonban Messages
Today’s Book of the Week is Dengonban Messages, by British haiku pioneer, James Kirkup. James Kirkup (1918-2009) was an English poet who lived in Japan for thirty years, and authored over forty books of verse and several volumes of drama and autobiography. About one-line haiku, to which the present collection is dedicated, he wrote in his introduction that “It is easy to eat a one line poem inscribed upon rice paper. It is much harder to eat an epic.” He knew whereof he spoke, having written both. And knowing the modern distaste for long poems we can understand his preference, even if we haven’t actually eaten either.
Though published almost forty years ago, this is a relevant volume, with many, many fine examples of the best in monostich.
a bird swims in the willow’s waterfall of leaves
opening fists unfold the palms’ lined leaves
the pollarded plane trees shake frustrated fists
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
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Kirkup san was one of the early haiku masters. I remember when we thought he was dead, but he wasn’t, and now he is, and isn’t, and will never be.
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