The Best Haiku Resources
Recently, I ordered a handful of what appeared to be the “top” books on haiku, from the library. I won’t mention which books made my eyes glaze over post-haste. Rather, I’ll share what seemed to me to be one of the best haiku resources in the pile.
Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years is definitely a top resource. It includes excellent poems arranged chronologically, so you can see the unfolding of the form over time in (American) English. It has an amusing and informative introduction by Billy Collins. And it sports a brief history of haiku that touches on such subjects as:
2. The origins of haiku in English
3. The first haiku written in English—unless you count the “found haiku” of Emily Dickinson. Jack Kerouac claimed there were “a million haikus in the Great Emily Dickinson.” (We forgive Kerouac for adding the unnecessary “s” to haiku to pluralize it, because we are more interested in the intriguing possibility of #huntinghaiku)
4. The Beats and haiku
5. The Haiku Community
6. The globalization of haiku
7. The next hundred years
Haiku in English is easy to read and provides enough food for thought on how to construct haiku that it would make a great addition to your personal or classroom library. Beyond that, you could easily read a poem a day (which we highly recommend), and let poetry become something that not only makes you a better writer but also perhaps a better navigator of life.
Here are some of my absolute favorite poems from the volume:
Best Haiku (Or, the Ones I Loved)
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
—Wallace Stevens, from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
A deep gorge…
some of the silence
One last look
through the old apartment
a dry sponge
The spell check questions them:
Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway
day after day
bits of a chained bicycle
look at the red throat
of the hummingbird—then tell
your story again
mending his fence
the neighbor’s mouth
full of nails
a line borrowed
from another poet
If you’re a fan of haiku, this book might be for you. And if you’ve never given much thought to haiku, it might also be for you. I was surprisingly inspired by giving it a read.
Photo by Matthias Rhomberg, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of the collection Love, Etc: Poems of Love, Laughter, Longing & Loss.
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
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