Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry

Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry
Authors Judith Patt, Michiko Warkentyne and Barry Till
Publisher: Pomegranate; Bilingual Edition
Hardcover: 80 pages

Haiku, the Japanese form of poetry written in just three lines, is popular all over the world. "Its popularity is probably due as much to its brevity and seeming simplicity as to its imagery and evocative qualities."

Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry is a collection of 35 poems composed by the renowned Japanese haiku masters of the past four hundred years, including Matsuo Basho, Taniguchi Buson and Kobayashi Issa. The haiku, written in English with Japanese calligraphies and transliterations, are paired with beautiful paintings, ukiyo-e prints and shin hanga woodcuts from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada.

The book is arranged into three sections.
The Poetic Form
Evolution of Haiku
The Lineage of Haiku Masters
Preparation of This Book

Chrysanthemum, c. 1930s | Nishimura Hodo  | Woodcut on paper
Image ©Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 
Yellow mums, white mums--
as for me, I crave a red
chrysanthemum too!

--Shiki (1867-1902)

from Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry

I chose an autumn haiku to share with you, the stunning chrysanthemum woodcut caught my attention. I read and then began to interpret the haiku, my first, observing that as a traditional haiku, it contained seventeen sound characters, a reference to a season, as well as a distinct pause or interruption. I learned that reading and practice are the best ways to enter the world of haiku, and that if I wanted to learn about the chrysanthemum, to go to the chrysanthemum. So I did, and my efforts were rewarded with a 'haiku moment', an experience where my heart moved in response to nature and its inspiring beauty. Now I know why people find haiku so fascinating. These short poems remind us to slow down and uncover the beauty of ordinary moments. Do you haiku?

Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry is available at for US$24.95. There's a Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry 2012 Wall Calendar too, for US$13.99.  Pomegranate ships throughout the United States, Canada and world. They also have a selection of spectacular Christmas Cards.


  1. I would bet this Haiku book is gorgeous, both in artwork and verse.

  2. Great to hear from you Ruthi, you are right!