Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku

First published in Woodnotes #19, Winter 1993, page 46.

Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku edited and translated by Lucien Stryk. Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1993, 118 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $11.95 in bookstores. A much-needed collection of haiku translations from many of this century’s recognized Japanese haiku poets. Beginning with Shiki’s revolutionary haiku and proceeding through the work of 68 other poets, this book also includes an invaluable overview of modern Japanese haiku in its introduction. Many well-known names are included in the book, including Hosai, Seisensui, Santoka, Shinkichi, and Ippekiro. Also refreshing are dozens of new voices, some of whom are translated into English for the first time. Poems are elegantly presented one to four per page. The translations are spare, sometimes stark, and always engaging. By their brief style, the translations are a complimentary acknowledgment of the trends and practices of today’s American haiku poets. Especially recommended.