Feb 12

Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion, and Remembrance by Patricia Donegan

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , February 12th, 2010

by Alison

by Alison

Consider this review a Valentine for Patricia Donegan. Because boy, am I in love with her books.

So enamored was I with  Haiku Mind that when I found out her new book Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion and Remembrance would be out in January, I ordered it months ahead. The book is co-translated with Yoshie Ishibashi and some of the haiku in this book have been published in English for the first time.

In Love Haiku, Patricia Donegan has gathered a compilation of romantic haiku by diverse Japanese poets. On one page is a haiku by Basho and on the next a contemporary haiku about a sex change. And this is the magic of this anthology. Love has so many faces, it’s a creature with so many forms that it is astonishing to see Patricia Donegan truly capture its complexities in one small book of poetry.

Also noteworthy is the male / female component of this book. It is a book about love, after all, and I appreciate that the male and female perspective share equal space.

As the title suggests, the book is divided into three distinct components of love: longing, passion and remembrance.

First there is longing, and I enjoyed this one by Yoshiko Yoshino :

nights of rain -

lonely, I fall asleep

holding my breasts

And then there is passion which is nothing if not complex, as in this haiku by Kanajo Hasegawa:

the one I curse

is the one I love -

red cotton roses

While this haiku of remembrance, by Seisha Yumaguchi, made me smile with its image of ephemeral beauty:

in the waves

no trace, where I swam

with a woman

Love Haiku is an exquisite book that pulled me into it’s theme so deeply that I could not stop reading these love poems aloud to my husband. And it is rare indeed to find a book of poems where each one seems to take your breath away. But this is exactly how I feel about this collection.

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