The strictest and purest of poetic forms, the Japanese haiku contains in its seventeen sound characters a reference to a season as well as a distinct pause or interruption. Cherry blossoms and swallows might refer to spring; red maple leaves and deer usually imply autumn. These seasonal allusions emphasize the essence of haiku: nature and its ephemeral beauty.
The graceful, evocative haiku featured here were composed by the renowned Japanese haiku masters of the past four hundred years, including Matsuo Bashō, Taniguchi Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. The deceptively simple poems—rendered in English with Japanese calligraphies and transliterations—are paired with exquisite eighteenth- or nineteenth-century paintings and ukiyo-e prints and twentieth-century shin hanga woodcuts from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada. With their depth and delicacy, wide range of subtle hues, and time-honored focus on landscapes, birds, and flowers, these artworks—like their haiku counterparts—quietly capture a moment in time.
Haiku: Japanese Art and Poetry presents thirty-five pairs of poems and images, organized seasonally. The Introduction details the origin and development of haiku, the lives of the most famous poets, and the obstacles faced when translating the concise yet complex lines.
About the AUTHORS
JUDITH PATT—now retired from teaching Japanese and Southeast Asian art history at the University of Victoria, British Columbia—received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Stanford University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She coauthored, with Barry Till and Michiko Warkentye, The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru, also published by Pomegranate.
MICHICKO WARKENTYNE (nee Sasaoka) was born and raised in Japan, where she studied classical Japanese as well as English. After graduating from college in Tokyo, she came to Canada. She received her B.A. in Honors English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario and then traveled around the globe twice. Finally, she settled down with her family in Victoria, Canada, where she taught Japanese at the University of Victoria for many years.
BARRY TILL is curator of Asian art at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, British Columbia. He is the author of Masterful Images: The Art of Kiyoshi Saito, Shin Hanga: The New Print Movement of Japan, Japan Awakens: Woodblock Prints of the Meiji Period (1868–1912), and The 47 Ronin: A Story of Samurai Loyalty and Courage.