This book is a guided tour through the work of Japanese haiku master Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), gathering together in one text his most effective and evocative verses. After an introduction to Issa's poetry and life, the translator, David G. Lanoue, presents 1,210 haiku culled from his on-line archive of 10,000. Lanoue writes, "Issa is a poet who speaks to our common humanity in a way that is so honest, so contemporary, his verses might have been written this morning. Bashô is the most revered of the haiku poets of Old Japan, but Issa is the most loved."
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SIMPLY WONDERFUL! This collection of translated haiku is exceptional. I enjoyed learning more about Issa and absolutely loved his haiku. Simplicity is wonderful!
David gives Issa the simple one breath renditions that gives me an 'aha' moment each time. He avoids the mistakes other translators commit in making every thing clear adding excess verbage. He lets Issa speak!
This is a great book of haiku by Issa, one of Japan' s most beloved poets. For all who like having some books of poetry on their Nook, this Nook book is a "must have." I was very happy to see it become available. Issa scholar and translator, David Lanoe, includes a short biography of Issa in this book of haiku by Issa, which Lanoe has translated. Issa had a hard life and wrote haiku that everyone can relate to. This book will be enjoyed by those who have been reading haiku for many years as well as those who are new to the genre.
Until I met Issa (through David Lanoue's translations) I had the usual English major acquaintance with haiku - they began with Basho and probably ended with Ezra Pound or maybe the beatniks, right? But compared to Issa, the translators presentation makes other haiku masters sem like stuffed shirts. Then you find out that the translation is transparent. A real man named Issa is speaking directly to us. It is uncanny how after two or three pages of Issa, as Lanoue renders his poems, one starts to smell the small village smells (which even Issa is willing to tell you aren't always "touristy" nice), hear the sounds, and even have more respect for your cats, characteristic of the early 19th century Japanese microcosm in which the poet circulated. Issa (which Lanoue tells us means "Cup of Tea" - or literally "One Tea," as W. C. Fields would mutter "Mocha Java, please"), was the poets haiku-"handle" or nom-de-plume. It was the perfect name. You could see him sitting on his front "stoop" with a cup of tea, watching his neighbors go about their business as well as the outlier personality going by as if a float in the "passing parade." No one and nothing escape his eye or his comment: "spring breeze-- / the great courtier / poops in the field." He had the humor and courage of the very simplicity which he lived. Only a man with nothing to lose can say anything - if his courage holds. Although a priest, he married, had children, encountered death and disaster, and yet kept on watching and writing. Another example: "drawing eyebrows / on a white dog / long day." I actually know someone who drew colored mustaches with felt-tipped pens on her cat while studying for law school. The feline thought it was simple nose scratching. When a poet recreates your own life for you it's the very definition of authenticity. One must be careful, though, because Lanoue's translations of Issa are addictive. One begins to think in haiku moments; or is it that one realizes that we think in moments of haiku. It's hard to say. Buy it; read it; savor them - but watch out, you will begin to see this gangly, smiling Japanese bard out of the corner of your eye and find yourself thinking, "what would Issa have said about that."