From Haiku World

The following are my three poems (the maximum allowed per poet by the democratic editor) in William J. Higginson’s Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1996). Bill signed my copy of the book in April of 2000 by saying “With thanks for your contribution to the scene!” But I am far more grateful to him for his dedicated exploration of the topic of season words (kigo) and how we might employ them in haiku to make this poetry as successful as possible in the Japanese tradition. Haiku World functions as an international saijiki, an almanac of categorized season words, commentary, and example poems with a worldwide consciousness. Together with its companion book, The Haiku Seasons, his overview of the saijiki tradition, published simultaneously, Haiku World is the preeminent consideration of seasonal references in worldwide haiku. The 1,000+ poems were originally written in 25 languages by more than 600 poets. Each of my poems appears with a seasonal designation, as indicated. See also “This Perfect Rose: The Lasting Legacy of William J. Higginson,” “Remembering Bill Higginson,” “In Memory of William J. Higginson,” “The Democracy of Haiku” (with a long section on Higginson), and his book, Met on the Road, which I published with my press, Press Here, in 1993.       +       +       +


BIRD’S NEST (pages 75–76)


an old woolen sweater

taken yarn by yarn

    from the snowbank


About the preceding poem, Higginson notes that this poem “illustrates an indirect or unstated reference to a seasonal topic” (page 75).




APPLE (specifically, crabapple) (pages 215–216)


a crab apple

from the highest branch

rattles down the rain spout



Humanity—All Year

ELDERLY (specifically, old folks’ home) (pages 314–315)


old folks’ home—

  the square of light

      crosses the room



William J. Higginson concludes the preface to Haiku World by saying the following (page 18):


I hope that The Haiku Seasons and Haiku World promote a deep understanding of haiku and the closely related poetry of hokku and senryu. This understanding may inform and assist in the creative process, but is not intended to limit or hamper that process. Do not put history, theory, or organization between yourself and Bashō’s pine tree but use these and all such books to help you go out and find the pine tree, so that you may "learn of the pine" sooner, and more richly.