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August 23, 2010

Pocket Karma


Well, it’s here. And I like it. I messed up the margins a bit, but Lulu did a great job. It’s a little thin, but I can expand it later. The original post is at the end.

The photo on the cover is mine, taken at the Woodbine Beaches in Toronto, Canada.

Ok, so why haiku?

Haiku gets a bad rap, because almost everyone is exposed to it in grade school. If you can remember counting syllables on their fingers in Grade 5, please raise your hand. Add to this the many satires of the genre on TV shows, and you end up with something very trivial.

But that’s not what haiku is about. It’s an honoured art form that is extremely challenging to get right.

And if you think it’s just for grade-schoolers, it’s adoption by some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century may change your mind: Jack Kerouac, Richard Wright, and Ezra Pound all loved and wrote haiku.

Go write some haiku. They’re cooler than limericks. Trust me.

Suggestions for great haiku reading

Haiku Volumes 1-4, by R.H. Blyth

I have yet to find an inexpensive version of these books, but they are the Big Daddy of haiku collections. Blyth wrote extensively on Japan, and translated thousands of haiku into English, almost single-handedly popularizing the art form in the western world. If you find cheap copies, buy them and give them to me. Ok, read them first, then give them to me.

Cherry Blossoms, Japanese Haiku, The Four Seasons, Haiku Harvest, edited by Peter Beilenson

These four absolutely beautiful small-press books were issued by Beilenson’s Peter Pauper Press. He also translated and typeset them. They are all out of print, but if you can find them, snap them up.

The Classic Tradition of Haiku An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers

This is part of the Dover Thrift Library, and is a great, inexpensive introduction to the art form.

The Haiku Year, by Tom Gilroy, Anna Grace, Jim McKay, Douglas A. Martin, Grant Lee Phillips, Rick Roth and Michael Stipe

You may recognize several front-men for alternative rock bands, most notably REM’s Stipe. The authors challenged themselves to each write one haiku a day, and send them to each other through the mail. This is a great collection, and beautifully designed.

Modern Japanese Haiku: An Anthology, edited by Makoto Ueda

Issued by U of T Press, this covers the modern period of haiku, roughly from the early 1800’s to the 1970’s. The introduction, which traces the many movements within the genre, is very helpful.

Haiku (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets), edited by Peter Washington

Probably the most accessible anthology available, covering many traditional Japanese authors.

Book of Haikus, by Jack Kerouac

Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road, by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac wrote extensively in haiku, and developed many of the rules now accepted for writing haiku in languages other than Japanese, where the syllabic patterns and word stresses are different. Book of Haikus collects many of the haiku written elsewhere, and presents never before published work; Trip Trap is a poetry collection written on one of Kerouac’s many road trips. Both are amazing collections.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright

The author of Native Son became obsessed with haiku towards the end of his life, writing thousands of them in a few short years. This is his personal selection for publication, arranged shortly before his death. Earthy, modern, and humane, this is a great anthology.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Basho

The most honoured haiku poet of them all. This is both a collection of famous haiku and an account of his travels through Japan. This book can be enjoyed as either.

The Way of Haiku: An Anthology of Haiku Poems, by James Hackett

Hackett was a prolific author in the genre, and this is a re-issue of four separate collections in one volume.

Harold G. Henderson, Haiku in English

William J. Higginson, The Haiku Seasons

These are books that dissects the genre, and provides suggestions for writing haiku. I would suggest Higginson’s book, which is still in print.


Frogpond is the official publication of the American Haiku Association. I’ve never quite had enough free cash at the start of their fiscal year to buy a membership in the organization, thus receiving the magazine, but you can read excerpts for free online. There are many haiku organizations throughout the world, including Canada.

The original post

One of the great advantages of POD services like Blurb and Lulu is that you can do something just for yourself. You can control how much exposure you want it to get.

For instance, if all you want is a copy for yourself, you can do that.

Which is what i just did.

During my twenties, I really got into writing haiku. Ok. That’s not quite as cool as saying “I really got into alt grunge metal bluegrass guitar”, but it’s what I got into. They’ve been scattered across multiple notebooks, digital files, and scraps of paper for ages, so I decided to download a lulu template, get them typed up, and make a cheap paperback to put on my shelf.

And that’s just what I did. Along with a few other scattered pieces I don’t feel too embarrassed by, it’s now up on lulu.

I’ve hidden it from public searches. This is a compromise for me. I’m not interested in making it ‘a thing’, but in the odd event someone absolutely has to have a printed copy, I can sneak them the url.

For anyone who’s just interested in reading them, I’m hosting a PDF here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 5:03 pm

    Thanks for posting the PDF

    Chill wind, clouded skies
    Embracing yesterday’s path
    As squirrels collide



  2. September 16, 2011 2:49 am

    Nice collection of cameras. Did you hear about Russian Zorki or Zenit. Zenit ET was a great camera. nice blog

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