Weekly Book Pick: Haiku People by Stephen Addiss with Fumiko and Akira Yamamoto

51WHQZ9PNRL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Are my youthful dreams

still unfinished?

this morning’s frost



I have always loved haiku. It is deceptive. Haiku appears simple but is often layered, deep and with elusive meaning. The examples gathered in the gorgeous Haiku People are accompanied by traditional woodblock prints and drawings that give additional layers and meaning. This treasury of ancient art follows our life cycle from childhood through maturity and old age and it would be difficult not to find an inspiration or reflection point in the collection.



by stepping out –

the ice is thin


“When you encounter a poem that is especially resonant, you should try to imagine several meanings for it”. The introduction to Haiku People is entitled “Multiple Interpretations” and that is exactly what haiku is for me. Reading traditional haiku in translation adds to the multiplicity. We are encouraged to ponder and to develop our response to the poem, to experience haiku rather than simply read. Whether or not the 5-7-5 syllable count is maintained in translation is for me irrelevant; I always feel challenged by the apt succinctness. But of course it is the brevity that gives power, it is what is hidden and not said that creates the richness. For me, this is aspirational. Imagine micro-blogging with such command and evocation.

Haiku becomes metaphor in more ways than one when we use the discipline and yet the freedom of the form as a means for reflection and response. If you missed the opportunity to try your hand at haiku during your school years (probably primary) then be comforted that it is never too late. Have a go; have fun, be serious, silly, honest, playful, direct. Frame your goals in haiku form; capture last night’s dream, share a memory or write a caption for a treasured photo. Let Haiku People be your inspiration and guide; write and read haiku as a means of getting to the poetic essence of the ordinary, the daily, the right here and now.


Puzzled frown, wrinkled

brow, then laughter comes, solving

my daughter’s riddle

Emma Weston


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