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The Japanese Haiku

de Kenneth Yasuda

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For lovers of literature and students of Japanese culture, this is a revealing exploration of the haiku. The author describes the subtle nature and beauty of haiku, emphasizing the form's unique place in the realm of poetry.

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A very serious and thorough (it seemed) treatment of what haiku is.

I loved it, the intensity and the importance placed on the poetic aspects of haiku. I'm not particularly interested in haiku, but I loved this book. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
I was given this by my sister and her husband after my various attempts at haiku on Twitter. It's an old thesis turned into a book, which explains the fairly academic style. At points this can be fairly dry, and can assume you know a lot about the background of poetry and haiku (which I don't), but there are also some excellent parts to it, and overall I found this really interesting.

The first and last sections held my interest the most. The first is a discussion on what a haiku should be, and discusses ideas about zen experience in poetry form, the idea that a haiku represents a single breath, and the notion that the haiku should give you, as the reader, a complete sense of what, when, and where.

The middle section deals with the 5-7-5 rhythm and why it may actually be essential, and how the haiku developed. This was a bit of a slog, as reference to poetry timing terms is completely lost on me, and I always get mixed up between hokku, renga, and so on. Still, very interesting in terms of Japanese history and the emphasis placed on poetry in society. Tales of haiku competition being organised, with 3,000 poems being written against each other, were fairly other-worldly.

The last part then elaborates on the use of the seasonal element, and is well worth a read as it's worth getting a deeper insight into what this should entail, along with how it's been used over the last thousand years or so.

As haiku develop in pace with the world, but also as they get taken up with some misunderstanding and simplicity in the West, this is a pretty fascinating book, and offers some excellent advice and perspectives for those looking to understand what a haiku is, beyond its simple rhythm. ( )
  6loss | Nov 7, 2019 |
This book reads like a PhD thesis (and it probably is one), so for those of you who like to read technical literary theory, this is the book for you. It does provide the most thorough analysis of haiku theory, history, and writing techniques I've found anywhere, but it is a bit dry. Also, the dramatic flaw of this book is that the author insists on almost always writing and translating haiku with the first and third lines rhyming - UGGH! It sounds awful...rhyme makes every poem seem trite. I found myself mentally converting each poem into a more natural non-rhyming form as I read. ( )
  tombrinck | May 13, 2006 |
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For lovers of literature and students of Japanese culture, this is a revealing exploration of the haiku. The author describes the subtle nature and beauty of haiku, emphasizing the form's unique place in the realm of poetry.

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