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Envoys is a section that will be devoted to looking at individual, non-English haiku from the 20th and 21st century. With the help of others, and you the reader, I hope to shed light on these poems by presenting not just one translation, but a variety of translations. This section will only be occasional, like the occasional foreign film night, but hopefully constant, illuminating, educational, and inspiring. Besides just translations, I am also looking to present additional commentary and insights, whenever possible, in order to strengthen our understanding of each poem and find what lies behind it — culturally, linguistically, and from an individual point of view. At times, this will mean the translator’s own understanding and interpretation, especially in regards to literary reference, historical reference, allusion, metaphor, simile, allegory, intimation, etc. Far too often, western readers and poets have been presented translations of non-English haiku/haikai/hokku (especially from its mother country) alone (without other versions or takes on it), in strictly realistic terms, at face value, without commentary or background information — without knowledge of, as Haruo Shirane has written, “the vertical axis” (leading back into the past, history, and other poems) that is so essential to having a fuller, deeper and richer comprehension of what haiku has been, what haiku is, and what haiku is capable of being (the other axis being the “horizontal” one: the present and contemporary). The west has been done a great disservice by not looking behind the mirror and acknowledging the web-like connections. And we do an even greater disservice, knowing what we know now, by not correcting and revising that damage, and by not doing it correctly from now on. Inspired by the scholarship of Robin D. Gill, Richard Gilbert, Hiroaki Sato, Haruo Shirane, and Makoto Ueda, I present to you Envoys

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