Tinywords.com recommends the following books on haiku and related subjects. If you know of a good haiku book that's not on this list, please tell us about it: send email to books at tinywords dot com.
You can buy any of the reviewed books by clicking on one of the "buy it now" links. The Powell's link will take you to that book at Powells.com; the Amazon link will let you buy it at Amazon.com. Easy, no? Tinywords.com gets a commission on sales of these books, which we'll use to help support the site and mailing list.
Melons--Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa, story and haiku
translations by Matthew Gollub, illustrations by Kazuko G. Stone (Lee and
Low Books, 1998). This picture book is a moving introduction to the poems
of Japanese haiku master Issa (1763-1827). Each page has a haiku in
translation, a beautiful illustration, and the haiku in flowing Japanese
script. The accompanying text tells the story of Issa's hard life, his
devotion to poetry, and his attentiveness to small creatures such as
insects, sparrows, and frogs. Cool Melons--Turn to Frogs! is a
children's book, but it is intelligently written and the translations and
explanations are done with intelligence and sensitivity. Very good!
NEW REVIEW The Haiku Anthology (3rd edition), edited by Cor van den Heuvel (W. W. Norton & Company, 2000). This stellar collection of haiku in English does a remarkable job of showing the range and power of the form. The editor, himself a major figure in American haiku, presents haiku from 89 different poets with little fanfare and almost no explanation. But the haiku, many of which are masterpieces of clarity and concision, stand on their own. More than that: They run, kick, and jump off the pages, notching new marks high on the wall of poetic accomplishment. First published in 1974, this book is available in a variety of editions.
The haiku handbook: how to write, share, and teach haiku, by William J. Higginson with Penny Harter. An indispensable introduction to the history, aesthetics, and writing of haiku. A great tool for teachers, too. Highly recommended.
Narrow road to the interior, and other writings, by Matsuo Basho (tr. Sam Hamill). Basho's classic prose work, the Oku-no-hosomichi, along with three other prose works by Basho and a generous selection of Basho's haiku. Hamill's translations are occasionally wordy but very readable.
Back roads to far towns, by Matsuo Basho (tr. Cid Corman and Kamaike Susumu). Another translation of Basho's Oku-no-hosomichi. Poetic and evocative, in this comely but spare edition from Ecco Press -- but the translator, inexplicably, leaves many Japanese words untranslated. Out of print, but you can look up used copies on Amazon.
Haiku: this other world, by Richard Wright. Collection of 800 haiku written by Wright, the author of Native Son and Black Boy, during his final illness and exile in France. An astounding collection of formal (5-7-5) haiku on traditional and nontraditional themes. Highly recommended.
Seeds from a birch tree, by Clark Strand. Haiku writing as a form of Zen spiritual practice. The author, a former Zen monk, includes many of his own and others' haiku, along with meditations, advice, and anecdotes.
If you have questions, corrections or additional information, email us at books at tinywords dot com!
a whole bunch of haiku books are available at Powell's
haiku books recommended by Amazon.com:
Except as noted, all haiku are copyright (c) their respective authors.