The Genius of Haiku: Readings from R. H. Blyth

First published in Woodnotes #23, Winter 1994, page 48.

The Genius of Haiku: Readings from R. H. Blyth, edited by David Cobb. British Haiku Society, 1994, 146 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $24.95 plus $2.00 postage from Book East, P.O. Box 11387, Portland, Oregon 97211 [address no longer correct], or order through your local bookstore (Book East distributes this book in North America). The writings of R. H. Blyth on haiku, poetry, Zen, and other subjects are many and varied. This new compendium published by the British Haiku Society serves as an introductory sampling of the 6,000 pages of text that Blyth published in his lifetime. But rather than simply anthologizing choice selections from Blyth, this fine material is augmented by a photograph of Blyth, much biographical material, and selections from letters and unpublished reminiscences. While this book is no substitute for Blyth’s essential writing on haiku (especially his four-volume Haiku and two-volume History of Haiku), The Genius of Haiku is engaging and readable. It weaves together the vastness of Blyth’s output on haiku, and is recommended for its supplementary information, including biographical and bibliographical material. Do seek out this book!