Shanti Arts (PB)
ISBN (digital) 78-1-947067-68-4
Cdn $20.00 US $15.95
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The Way of Haiku
The Way of Haiku is a guide for learning to write the most popular form of Japanese poetry, haiku. But true to the inviting and personal style of its author, Naomi Beth Wakan, it is also a comprehensive examination of the form and an eye-opening view into the way that reading and writing haiku can change the way one looks at life, as Naomi says, “Writing haiku helps you appreciate the wonder of ordinary things and ordinary days.”
Wakan discusses the history of haiku’s development, its important literary elements, and the differences between haiku written in Japanese and those written in English.
Numerous examples of haiku are provided, some written by Japanese haijin (haiku writers) and presented in translation, and some written by English-speaking writers.
The rich explanation of the experience of writing haiku and the encouraging words of the author will inspire readers to write their own haiku while remaining open to the possibilities it provides for personal growth.
“What do we get from a manual for teaching people how to write haiku in which the author firmly states, “You can’t be taught how to write haiku”? The answer is, a very great deal that is essential to the beginner, who is reminded constantly that the time will come when the ‘apprentice’, having learned from practice and experience and become a ‘journeyman’, will want to go his/her own way.
The reader is swept away by Wakan’s style – accessible, flourishing, personal and ‘racy’, and by her refusal to sit on a fence. She is convincing, yet is continually at pains to present convictions that diverge from her own. This tolerance is necessary in any serious discussion of haiku.
It is now 35 years since another Canadian, Sister Joan Giroux, wrote one of the first books of this kind. The Haiku Form. Hers was the book – now sadly out of print that put me on the right (meandering) road to writing haiku. If I were starting now, I would be glad to find Wakan’s book in my hands, like Guiroux’s primer, it deals infectiously with both the spirit and the form.
In The Way of Haiku, Naomi Beth Wakan parallels the fundamentals of the genre from both the western and eastern perspectives, reaching deeply into how haiku has adapted to change while continuing to hold its original essence throughout hundreds of years and many cultures. Having lived in Japan and studied Japanese literature, Ms Wakan is well-versed in the differences and similarities between Japanese and English-language haiku.