Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Heart of Haiku (Kindle Single)The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really didn't know what to expect, and was surprised how much I liked this little book. It paints a real picture of the time and the role of one pretty unusual man, Bashō, in evolving this form of poetry.

The book has a way of connecting the past to the present. Here the author is talking about "renga" writing in 17th century Japan:

"As with Dungeons and Dragons a few years ago, or Worlds of War and Second Life today, linked verse brought its practitioners into an interactive community that was continually and rapidly evolving. Hovering somewhere between art-form and competition, renga writing provided both a party and a playing field in which intelligence, knowledge, and ingenuity might be put to the test. Add to this mix some of street rap’s boundary-pushing language, and, finally, the video images of You-Tube. Now imagine the possibility that a “high art” form of very brief films might emerge from You-Tube, primarily out of one extraordinarily talented young film-maker’s creations and influence. In the realm of 17th-century Japanese haiku, that person was Basho."

There are some very interesting renditions of concepts hard to capture in the English language, such as "sabi". And the poetry itself, then, takes on a whole different feeling. Some of it is quite funny:

a hangover?

who cares,

while there are blossoms

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