marlene mountain
reviews of mm
haruo shirane
june 6 2001

Delivered-To: [email protected]
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2001 21:01:19 -0400
From: Haruo Shirane
To: marlene mountain
CC: hironan
Subject: Re: to share/higginson to mm

Dear Marlene,

I consider Higginson to be a close friend and I admire his work greatly, but here I must offer a different opinion with regard to your work. Whether or not it fits some definition of haiku is of little relevance in the larger picture. The fact is that it is superior poetry, much superior to almost the entire body of what has been narrowly defined in North America as *haiku.* Basho, like his great rival, Saikaku, felt that it was not form that counted, it was the poetry, the quality of the words, how it could move the reader. In their younger years, they broke all kinds of rules. Saikaku was criticized severely, and was told he was just *blowing dust.* But it was in the process of breaking rules that these poet often made their greatest poetic achievements. Great poets don:t stick to rules; they make their own. You belong in that company.

To put it another way, what was most important for Basho was what was called *haikai spirit,.* to be constantly seeking new horizons, new forms, new words, new emotions. (See my book, Traces of Dreams.) In my view, you have that spirit.

Haruo Shirane

Columbia University

PS. What list serve group is this?


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