As a lover of Haiku’s I thought that this post about Jane Hirshfield’s book, The Heart of the Haiku was very interesting. I am looking forward to reading more about my favorite form of expression.
Originally posted on Books, j'adore:
After finishing Imagine last week, I decided to follow the line of thought up with this slim volume about the seventeenth-century Japanese poet Basho, considered to be one of the original developers of haiku. For the last five years, I’ve been keeping my own haiku journal (one entry per day), and although I don’t practice it in its most rigid form, I do consider these tiny poems to be one of my favorite forms of expression, so I was curious to read about Basho’s work in the field.
Unlike Lehrer’s approach however, which I at times struggled with from a scientific perspective, Hirshfield writes a book that’s one (large) part history, one (smaller) part technical breakdown, with a healthy sprinkling of the poet’s own elegant haiku. She tells Basho’s story with an intimate air, as though she personally shadowed his journeys, teachings, and development as a writer across a matter of miles or decades rather than centuries. She stands close to him, allowing the reader to peer with her into the grass hut where he starved and composed some of the first poems of the kind.
I love her perspective of the poet, a man I had never heard of before this book; I loved his story, his examination of the Tao, of Zen Buddhism, his maturation as a writer, and the gentle ridicule he often expressed of his own pride in his work. I have a (now well-known) short attention span when it comes to non-fiction, and this proved to be the perfect length for me to absorb the man and his work. It almost felt as though it was written to reflect the oral tradition, or the short story, and since the short story is one of my favorite formats, her choice worked well for me.