“Haiku are the perfect size for holding our encounters with the natural world….Haiku are brief, yet incredibly open and at the same time very exact.” — Jane Reichhold, translator
They are direct, remarkably observant, seemingly simple, yet they linger in our minds for a long while. Most haiku take the natural world as its focus, and so (naturally) the Land Library has gathered many such volumes over the years, including several collections for young readers.
On a personal note, my love of haiku may have started with one of the most memorable reading experiences I have ever had — reading R.H. Blyth’s four-volume Haiku set (Volume 1 is pictured below). Blyth introduced me to a new world of Buson, Basho, Issa and many others — while reminding me of an “old world” populated by like-minded Western poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. As we reach the midpoint of National Poetry Month, it feels like another good time for a Haiku immersion. Enjoy!
on a barren branch
a raven has perched —
autumn dusk — Basho
pictured above: Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems, edited by Stephen Addiss, Fumiko Yamamoto & Akira Yamamoto, Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak, illustrated by Demi (from our Waterton Canyon Kids Library), The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Teach, & Appreciate Haiku by William J. Higginson & Penny Harter (which includes a chapter on Haiku for Kids).
in this new mud
the worm’s pink skin — Penny Harter
It is summer
the river is flowing
My friend has blond hair — 5th grade haiku student
and here are a few more haiku collections, including one from the Beat Generation!
Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac, Narrow Road to the Interior & Other Writings by Matsuo Basho, Haiku — Volume 1: Eastern Culture by R.H. Blyth, The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson & Issa, edited by Robert Hass
Oh, don’t swat!
the fly rubs hands
rubs feet — Issa
children imitating cormorants
are even more wonderful
than cormorants — Issa