A Haiku Menagerie

First published in Woodnotes #16, Spring 1993, page 29.

A Haiku Menagerie: Living Creatures in Poems and Prints by Stephen Addiss with Fumiko and Akira Yamamoto. Weatherhill, 1992, 116 pages, hardback, 7 by 8¼ inches. $16.95 from the publisher or at bookstores. Stephen Addiss’s A Haiku Menagerie is one of those beautiful books that offers a rare synthesis, in this case of fresh haiku translations and startling woodblock prints from Japanese books. After insightful introductions to the poems and prints, the book divides its haiku into the creature categories of “walkers,” “fliers,” “crawlers,” and “swimmers.” Arranged from two to five poems per page with color and black-and-white pictures, this book is truly a visual treat. Further study is required to fully compare these translations with those that have gone before, but they succeed on their own terms for their immediacy and succinctness. Unquestionably recommended. A sample by Bashō:

The voice of the cuckoo


over the water