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Book of the Week: Favorite Haiku



Favorite Haiku, Vol. I, by H.F. “Tom” Noyes, is our Book of the Week. Short, learned, artfully-worded personal responses to individual haiku have been practiced as a separate genre by the Japanese for a long time, and an increasing number of western writers, inspired by them, have taken it up. R.H. Blyth was the first to publish great numbers of these short write-ups, along with his English translations of Japanese haiku, and his commentaries and histories are largely credited with establishing the reputation of Japanese haiku among English readers today. H.F. Noyes turned his talents toward the challenge of more modern haiku, written by poets from around the world. The result has been five volumes of his insightful, inspirational commentaries, written between 1975 and 1998, edited and published by Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press. THF Digital Library contains PDFs of all five volumes.

I like to think of them as prescriptions for the ills induced by modern living, each including a haiku pill, and suggestions on how to take it.


when I have sat long enough
the red dragonfly
comes to the wheatgrass
-Laurie Stoelting

Bashô taught that we need to leave ample time for the subject-object dichotomy to heal before we’re open to the haiku experience. This readiness is often signaled by a kind of glimmer or shimmering, showing that the peripheral mind is in play, the rational mind in suspension. In the instance of this poet’s observations, the rational mind would never have singled out such an “insignificant” happening. But to the non-discriminating mind the red dragonfly’s visit has become unified with her contemplative sitting. The dragonfly comes to visit her own spirit in that wheatgrass. And that is noteworthy.


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.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. A highly enjoyable read. I must check out the other four books in the series. I believe that reading such personal commentaries on selected haiku can assist with technique.

    I see the author features one of my favourite haiku from Jane…

    coming home
    by flower

    Jane Reichhold

    “One of the things a haiku can be said to express is our joy in reunion with nature. Often it is the blossoming shrub or the fruit tree—or even just their scent—which after a time away most makes us feel we’re back home. Or just, as here, each remembered flower. Nothing in life is sure, but how much in nature is reassuring.”

  2. Profound and yet simple. I like it very much. It talks about patience to me.

  3. Resting…
    the sagging fence
    goes on up the hill
    Foster Jewell
    Jewell’s haiku for me provides both encouragement and the feeling of longevity itself. To have reached middle age I look forward to writing a haiku of similar stature when I reach my eighties.

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