Synopses & Reviews
In the past hundred years, haiku has gone far beyond its Japanese origins to become a worldwide phenomenon—with the classic poetic form growing and evolving as it has adapted to the needs of the whole range of languages and cultures that have embraced it. This proliferation of the joy of haiku is cause for celebration—but it can also compel us to go back to the beginning: to look at haiku’s development during the centuries before it was known outside Japan. This in-depth study of haiku history begins with the great early masters of the form—like Basho, Buson, and Issa—and goes all the way to twentieth-century greats, like Santoka. It also focuses on an important aspect of traditional haiku that is less known in the West: haiku art. All the great haiku masters created paintings (called haiga) or calligraphy in connection with their poems, and the words and images were intended to be enjoyed together, enhancing each other, and each adding its own dimension to the reader’s and viewer’s understanding. Here one of the leading haiku scholars of the West takes us on a tour of haiku poetry’s evolution, providing along the way a wealth of examples of the poetry and the art inspired by it.
Stephen Addiss, PhD, is Professor of Art at the University of Richmond in Virginia. A scholar-artist, he has exhibited his ink paintings and calligraphy in Asia, Europe, and the United States. He is also the author or coauthor of more than thirty books and catalogues about East Asian arts, including The Sound of One Hand: The Paintings and Calligraphy of Zen Master Hakuin.
In this in-depth look at the history of haiku and haiku paintings, one of the foremost experts on the art form offers a fascinating discussion on the development of the poetic form, concentrating on the great haiku poets like Basho, Buson, and Issa, but also moving into the twentieth century with poets like Santoka. While much has been written about haiku as a poetic form, haiku paintings, called haiga, are less widely discussed. Historically, all the leading masters created paintings, or at least calligraphy, with their haiku. The interaction of text and image adds another dimension to the already popular form of haiku, and is especially interesting since the two are so closely interwoven. This thorough history of haiku offers a clear view of the art of haiku and haiku paintings, and is presented with a wealth of examples of poems and paintings.