Forest House with Cat

First published in Woodnotes #19, Winter 1993, page 45.

Forest House with Cat by Edith Marcombe Shiffert. Unio Corporation, Kyoto, Japan, 1991, 108 pages, paperback, 5 by 7½ inches. Now available for $12.50 postpaid from the United States distributor, White Pine Press, 10 Village Square, Fredonia, New York, 14063 (ask for their catalog, which lists Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan and many other books of interest to those who enjoy Asian culture and literature). Edith Shiffert is widely known for her Buson biography, Haiku Master Buson (Heian), Kyoto Dwelling, and Anthology of Modern Japanese Poetry (both Tuttle). Shiffert’s new book, now distributed domestically through Dennis Maloney’s White Pine Press, collects 373 haiku arranged by months of the year (31 poems per month, plus one closing poem). She writes with great Japanese sensitivity from her home in Kyoto. With twelve sumi-e illustrations by Kohka Saito, the book presents a fine balance of nature and humanity through haiku. A sample poem from the month of April:

Caught in river weeds

cherry petals stop drifting,

their journey ended.