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Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share and Teach Haiku [Paperback]

William J. Higginson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Aug 1989 4770014309 978-4770014306 Reissue
"The Haiku Handbook" is the first book to give the reader everything needed to begin writing or teaching haiku. It presents haiku poets writing in English, Spanish, French, German, and five other languages on an equal footing with Japanese poets. Not only are the four great Japanese masters of the haiku represented (Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki) but also several major Western authors not commonly known to have written haiku.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd; Reissue edition (19 Aug 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770014309
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770014306
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 11 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 534,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Indispensable." -- Alexis Rotella, East West Journal

"Informative and engaging." -- Newsweek

"Sure to become the standard text on the subject." -- Booklist

"The most comprehensive compendium of the haiku--its nature, uses, and history--ever to appear in English..." -- Cor van den Heuvel, author, The Haiku Anthology

"Verve, erudition, and catholic selection of examples..." --The Virginia Quarterly Review

About the Author

WILLIAM J. HIGGINGSON studied Japanese at Yale University where he discovered the haiku, and served, with the U.S. Air Force in Japan. He is a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968, and edited and published Haiku Magazine (1971-76). He has three published collections of longer poems and one of haiku, and has work appearing in magazines and anthologies worldwide. He has also taught in the National Endowment for the Arts "Poets-in-the Schools" program, leading writing workshops in hundreds of schools, and he regularly speaks at conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Higginson's international anthology of haiku for children, Wind in the Long Grass, is a classroom favorite. His two-volume sequel to The Haiku Handbook, The Haiku Seasons and Haiku World, gives a comprehensive view of the history, present state, and international possibilities of seasonal consciousness in poetry.
PENNY HARTER, Higginson's wife and collaborator on the Handbook, is a poet and teacher with 14 collections of poems to her credit. She has received three grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for her poetry, and an award from the Poetry Society of America. She has served as a visiting poet for the Council and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in classes from kindergarten through high school. Her work is published internationally; among her recent books are Shadow Play: Night Haiku, a collection for children, and her latest book, Turtle Blessing. The couple lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Harter teaches at Santa Fe Preparatory School.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The sub-title of the book presents its intentions which are unusually wide for a work on poetry: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. This generosity to the reader is fully realized.
Higginson has devoted himself to teaching the appreciation and writing of haiku, a form of poetry that has become increasingly popular in the West. He has a solid knowledge of Japanese as well as being a poet himself.
This book deals with many different aspects of haiku, from the Japanese tradition to ways of teaching it meaningfully at school but his main goal is to help any reader to understand and enjoy this form of poetry. Reading and writing haiku will increase our interest and sensitivity to the world around us, truly an essential human goal.
Higginson also emphasizes the sense of nature in the different seasons which is essential to the Japanese haiku and he gives an extensive list of various activities and phenomena that are traditionally associated with each season.
His writing is clear and well informed and this book is rich in facts of all aspects of his subject, including the history of Western interest in writing haiku. Both newcomers to the haiku and those who already have some knowledge will find much of value here and the presentation is easy to follow and digest. Higginson is a knowledgeable teacher who loves his subject so readers have everything to gain by following him.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful 27 Oct 2007
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is extremely helpful to the Westerner trying to understand and write Haiku. The author has studied the genre extensively and is able to offer a great deal of useful information not only about the technical structure, but about the Japanese culture which spawned and fostered Haiku. He deals with the history of Haiku both in Japan and its translation and adoption in the West, as well as offering hundreds of examples from all nationalities of poet, as well as information for those wanting to teach Haiku,which is both fascinating and useful. The reason it didn't get five stars from me is that the book is somewhat dated, written in the mid 1980's it has much information about journals and publications which will by now (2007)be out of date.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A History of Haiku, not a how to write Haiku 5 May 2009
By Ryuto
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is, as pointed out by other reviewers, a very comprehensive and well written account of the history and development of haiku including modern writers and noted Western exponents. However I found it fairly useless in helping me construct my own haiku. Granted it makes suggestion on altering syllable numbers when writing in English and the glossary of words that classically evoke certain seasons is nice, but what I, as a someone who has never written any verse, would have benefited from was step-by-step examples of composing a haiku as a beginner's guide. Perhaps one is moved by seeing the newly greening hills of spring against the vivid blue of an unusually clear sky. Should one jot notes down first to keep the memory fresh? Play around with descriptive words? Incorporate key classical 'seasonal' words from the glossary and then begin crafting the finished verse. What makes one decide to use the strict 5-7-5 or go with the authors extended syllable version? I just felt like I was given no lead into actually writing a haiku and its for that reason I've given this tree stars and suggest that would-be, virgin haiku composers look elsewhere for guidance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upon Reading the First Page, I Knew this Book was a Winner 11 July 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Unlike some books, one usually have to read towards the middle to determine whether a book is excellent or lousy. Not so with "The Haiku Handbook". It's excellent from beginning to end. Mr. Higginson has done a wonderful job in explaining the origins and grand beauty of haiku poetry. My favorite chapters were the one's on "The Four Haiku Masters", "Sharing Haiku" and "Haiku for Kids". This book is evident that Mr. Higginson has vast knowledge of the Japanese culture and language. Not only does he discuss the haiku of Japan but also haiku from all over the world. I simply love the translations of haiku in the various languages such as french, spanish, german etc. In conclusion, for anyone cosidering haiku as a hobby or a professional literary career, this book is an excellent springboard.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book for learning how to write English haiku. 3 Mar 1998
By stochasticity - Published on
This book really lives up to its title. This is the only book that I've seen that does a good job of teaching HOW to write English-language haiku. To help the reader learn about haiku, it has plenty of examples of modern haiku from around the world, as well as examples of historical Japanese haiku. Besides teaching about haiku, this book would be a very good book for anyone seeking a general introduction to haiku. It also has a good capsule history of haiku. You will, however, have to go to other books for greater detail on the history of haiku, or if you want greater emphasis on specifically Japanese haiku.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haiku Handbook 7 April 2003
By bil - Published on
This is not for the passive haiku reader. It provides an in-depth history of haiku, samples of old masters and new. It teaches how to read, write, and teach... just like the cover says.
I'd always wondered why my haiku seemed so long and filled with so much extra words even though I followed the 5-7-5 and 5-7-5-7-7 syllable format. This wonderful guide covers this and many other assumptions that we English-speaking haiku enthusiasts have about traditional haiku.
My haiku has improved by writing in 3-6-3 syllables. (This book does not recommend 3-6-3, but it works for me based on the context of info provided) Anyone shocked at something other than 5-7-5 should not read this. If you enjoy reading and writing haiku and you learn what this book teaches, you will feel like a haiku master.
Some of my best haiku was written as a direct inspiration of this book.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Reference Book! 23 Nov 1998
By Hortensia Anderson - Published on
This is a wonderful book for the novice writer, reader AND teacher of haiku. Higginson manages to fit a decent representation of haiku (Japanese masters as well as African-American, Beat, and multi-lingual)as well as a brief history of related Japanese genres and "season word" lists.
Higginson definitely whets the appetite for even more information about and examples of haiku. An indispensable addition to any haiku and haiku-related library.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This One's A Must Have 10 Feb 2005
By M. Hori - Published on
Blyth's Haiku Seasons books and Higginson's guide to reading and writing "haiku" in English are two of the necessary books to begin to understand what haiku is all about. I have a difficult time with the idea that a tiny poem written in any of the Romance languages--esp. English-- could be called a "haiku," even though the author might include season words and even the 5/7/5 syllable count. I would much rather call them epigrams, because they simply cannot give you the effect of a Japanese haiku. Anyone who argues otherwise is simply fooling themselves, and you. Given all of that, however, Blyth and Higginson are good books to have on the shelf. Blyth, I believe, is the better writer/translator and his sense of chronology and history is stronger. In addition he gives hundreds of translated gems to admire from Basho, Issa, Buson, and others. He also doesn't try to convince you that haiku can be written in English. Higginson is the warmer writer and his generosity to the reader is apparent from the beginning, so practioners will find him perhaps more useful than Blyth in a practical sense. I disagree with Higginson's history of English language "haiku"--there are some important people he simply leaves out, but he more than makes up for the omissions in other chapters. Both writers impart an enthusiasm for the subject to their readers. If you're building a haiku library and would like a great start, Blyth's four volume set and Higginson's Haiku Handbook are the way to go.
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