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Book of the Week – Selected Haiku with Notes and Commentary, Part 2: 1961-2012 by Kaneko Tohta

From the Introduction to the Series: “Kaneko Tohta (金子兜太, b. 1919) is among the most important literary and cultural innovators of postwar Japan. His career, the inception of which begins with his first haiku published at the age of 18, has now spanned 75 years, during which time he has pioneered major postwar modern-haiku movements, and become a leading literary and cultural figure as critic, teacher, scholar, and poet … Kaneko Tohta is virtually unknown outside of Japan due to a lack of translated works. Of those translated haiku to be found, few give an indication of the philosophic or critical basis informing his thought. Lacking such information, the bare poems out of context only hint at Kaneko’s achievement.”

This book was translated by The Kon Nichi Translation Group.

heaped cicadas –
gradually, transparent impurity

     to begin to be

misty dream bed
a blue shark’s spirit

to Lu Xun’s grave
a few southern magnolia

on a wolf
a firefly
attaches …

towards recovery
a ruined ship a human shadow

the winter pine

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library and please share your favorite poem from the book with us.

Do you have a chapbook published in 2018 or earlier that 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 the THF Digital Librarian Kenneth Pearson and are used with permission.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you providing a home for this compilation of selected haiku, translation, explication of Kaneko Tohta’s work. I love the idea of “settled wandering” and there’s a lot to appreciate in this work. There is way too much to digest in a single reading – will be revisiting as time permits. On initial reading I have a few favorites (mostly these are haiku that I can somewhat grasp without the background notes):

    one dog two cats
    we three finally
    not A-bombed

    away a horse –
    washing her vulva with waterweed
    the child bride

    evening of the day
    leaving heaven
    a fox

    a curse: upon
    a girl’s face: butterflies
    bees and …

    shall I quit drinking sake?
    what instinct
    shall I next play with?

    a green frog
    boredom cannot kill that

    Would you be able to provide a link to part 1 of this book?

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