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Jane Hirshfield shares her optimism for American haiku in the new year

Poet Jane Hirshfield said she’s coming off the most overfilled year of her life. She traveled to China, Japan, Lithuania, Canada, Poland, and all over the US. She published “The Heart of Haiku” in late June and then “Come, Thief” this fall.

Here is her answer to my question, “What are your hopes for American haiku over the next year?”

Having a hope for haiku in the next year–what a strange thought that is for me to contemplate, just now. The true life of poetry, it seems to me, draws from something beyond our ideas of what it itself might be. The essence of a haiku is that it brings us to profound immediacy, beyond ideas — to a moment’s comprehension that both exceeds and confounds whatever thoughts and concepts we may have had before it came into existence. Body, mind, spirit, self, language, the infinite beings and weathers — all these together make haiku, far beyond concept or wish.  “Hope,” as I understand it, is specific, particular, and directed. Hope holds some idea. May I instead offer haiku my optimism? A rather simple optimism: that good haiku be written, and read, and surprise us by enlarging the world in unknowable ways. 

 

Jane Hirshfield published two new books in 2011, “Come, Thief” (Knopf), her seventh collection of poems, and “The Heart of Haiku”, an Amazon Kindle Single about Basho and haiku which was for months Amazon’s highest selling poetry or poetry-related book in any format.

 

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