Classic Haiku: The Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki, and Their Followers

This book contains the works of the great Japanese poets of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki. These helped create and innovate the genre that has become known as haiku. This translation is very readable and contemporary, with the work of the poets put into seasonally-themed groups. The introduction offers a biography of each of the featured poets, background on the nature of haiku and its development within the Japanese poetic tradition, and a short account of the Buddhist practice to which most of the writers were connected.
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Duncan Baird
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Average: 5 (1 vote)


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Great place to start. . . .

Field of Interest/Specialty: AP World History & World Religions
Posted On: 11/18/2014

Amy Swartz
Grades 9-12
Courses: AP World History, AP US History, Global Issues, World Religions
Warrior Run High School, Turbotville, PA
This small, linen-bound book is a delightful glimpse into the history and evolution of haiku while highlighting the contributions of essential Japanese poets. The well-organized text begins with an introduction outlining the development of haiku from earlier forms, including structure, forms, rules, and influences, as well as, the poets and their subjects. Biographical sketches are provided for of each poets in the anthology, including Bashō, Buson, Issa, and Shiki. The haiku are group by poet, starting with Bashō’s work, followed by a seasonal interlude of haiku from winter, spring, summer, and autumn, succeeded by the haiku of Buson, Issa, and Shiki. Simple black and white photographs of natural elements, animals, seasonal landscapes intersperses the haiku poetry. This affordable book would be an appropriate addition to the school library, classroom library, or personal collection.
Classic Haiku would be an appropriate resource for a language arts or social studies teacher or middle school or high school students who are starting to learn about the background and development of Haiku. The straightforward nature of its design and focus would make it readily useful in supplementing a textbook or other materials. The introductory and biographical information could be used by the teacher for developing introductory lessons or lecture to be presented prior to student’s reading the haiku. Students could contrast the lives and work of the four main poets presented in the book. This book could easily enhancement a unit on Japanese culture or history, allowing students to research and analyze the influences and messages of the haiku, as well as the time and culture in which they were produced.