POETRY

Poets rejoice! Our collection of poetry offers a little of everything, from haiku to the Beats. Whether ancient or contemporary, spiritual or secular, these poems promise to inspire.

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What The Water Knows by Sam Hamill

Find out more about Sam Hamill here.

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HAIKU

What Are Haiku? Although today haiku may be the best-known form of poetry in the world, there is still confusion as to how to define them. Many people would de­scribe haiku as a three-line poem of 5–7–5 syllables, but this does not pen­etrate more than the surface of this remarkable form of poetry. Rather than tight definitions, it might be more useful to discuss the guidelines that most haiku follow. Haiku in Japan are generally written or printed in a single column. Nev­ertheless, until the twentieth century, most traditional Japanese examples fall into 5–7–5 syllable patterns, although this was stretched and even broken by some of the great masters when it suited their purpose.1 In the past one hundred years...

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READER'S GUIDE

A Tour of our Haiku Books

Many know haiku as a three-line poem, the first and last lines five syllables long, and the second line, seven. But there is much more to what defines haiku, elements more subtle than prescribed syllable counts or line breaks. In fact, Japanese haiku are typically written in a single column, and many haiku deviate from the syllable count familiar to so many of us. So, what then, makes a haiku a haiku? Demonstrated throughout the haiku tradition is a close relationship to nature, and thus seasonal references are usually present. However, haiku also maintains a certain openness to interpretation, and this is the aspect of haiku with which many writers new to the tradition struggle. There is so much complexity to the seemingly simple art of haiku and its history, and the books in this guide, by translators and editors with a deep respect for the art, enlighten readers to a rich cultural tradition, leaving a delightful appreciation for the unique poetic form.

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