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Haiku Master Buson: Translations from the Writings of Yosa Buson—Poet and Artist— with Related Materials

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YUKI SAWA AND EDITH MARCOMBE SHIFFERT,
TRANSLATORS AND EDITORS
BUFFALO, NEW yORK: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2007
256 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1893 996816, PAPERBACK

Reviewed by Fay Beauchamp

American fascination with haiku is primarily a post World War II phenomenon. In the 1950s, Beat poets, specifically Jack Kerouac, were drawn to haiku as an easy way to connect to a type of Zen Buddhism made popular through the writings of D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts. While “on the road,” Kerouac would have liked Haiku Master Buson, first edited and translated by yuki Sawa and Edith Marcombe Shiffert in 1978. Now part of White Pine Press’s Companion for the Journey Series, its present form is compact, light, and attractive. The cover shows Buson on a horse stepping through a stream; the invitation is to unfettered wandering. Haiku can be the source of portable enlightenment: seated in a craggy nook, readers can ponder the suggestive short lines, observe their surroundings, and write.

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