Well-Versed: Exploring Modern Japanese Haiku

Well-Versed: Exploring Modern Japanese Haiku: Ozawa, Minoru: 9784866581798:  Amazon.com: Books

This is an exciting new publication. Well-Versed “includes poems from the end of the century through the beginning of the twenty-first century by the most important writers of modern haiku.” The poems are arranged seasonally and are wide-ranging and inclusive in approach and content. One of the things I love about this book is how personal it feels. The poems are lovingly selected by Ozawa Minoru and his explanations of each poem provide really interesting insights with regards to allusions and history. But what I especially appreciate are his insights into the poets’ use of language and sound, something that is usually conveniently ignored or forgotten altogether. It is a refreshing anthology with a lot of depth and history. In Ozawa’s preface this stood out to me: “. . . I came to think that the single vertical line of a haiku might well function as something similar to the ancient yorishiro, vertical natural forms believed to be sacred conduits channeling the power of the gods.” Indeed! Highly recommended! The haiku are translated by Janine Beichman, author of Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works, and Embracing the Firebird: Yosano Akiko and the Rebirth of the Female Voice in Modern Japanese Poetry. Check out a recent interview with her on the podcast Books on Asia (“Janine Beichman on translating Japanese Haiku and Tanka”).