The Haiku Handbook

25th Anniversary Edition: How to Write, Teach, and Appreciate Haiku

  • William J. Higginson and Harter Penny
  • Foreword by Jane Reichhold
The Haiku Handbook

Size: 210×140 mm, 390 g
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 352
word list, index, glossary
ISBN10: 1-56836-540-3
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-540-4
Release date: March 1, 2010

List price: $18.00

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The Haiku Handbook is the first book to give the reader everything needed to delve into all aspects of haiku. In this groundbreaking and now-classic volume, the authors present haiku poets writing in English, Spanish, French, German, and five other languages on an equal footing with Japanese poets. Not only are the four great Japanese masters of the haiku represented (Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki), but also major Western authors not commonly known to have written haiku—including Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and Richard Wright—are showcased. With a new foreword by poet, translator, and author Jane Reichhold (Basho: The Complete Haiku), this anniver-sary edition presents a concise history of the Japanese haiku, not the least of which are the dynamic changes in the twen-tieth century as this beloved poetry form was adapted to modern and urban settings. Full chapters are offered on form, the seasons in haiku, and haiku craft, plus background on the Japanese poetic tradition and the effect of translation on our understanding of haiku. Other unique features are chapters on teaching and sharing haiku, with lesson plans for both elementary and secondary school use; a seasonal word index of poetic words; a comprehensive glossary; and a list of enduring classic resources for further exploration. In short, by any standard, The Haiku Handbook is the defining volume in the field.


“The most thorough treatment haiku has received in English.” —Los Angeles Times

“The most comprehensive compendium of the haiku—its nature, uses, and history—ever to appear in English, or any other language except Japanese.” —New York Times Book Review

The Haiku Handbook is an indispensable and exhilarating overview, as inviting and clear as it is scholarly, as exuberantly passionate as it is informative and comprehensive. All who write, read, or teach poetry will find themselves broadened, magnetized, and welcomed by these gate-opening pages.” —Jane Hirshfield poet, co-translator of The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi and Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan

“For many years, The Haiku Handbook has been without rival and the fullest, clearest, and most engaging guide to its profound and fascinating subject.” —X. J. Kennedy

About the Author

Poet, translator, and literary historian William J. Higginson (1938–2008) has been called "the guru of American haiku." For over forty years, Higginson translated, wrote, commented about, and lectured on Japanese haiku and on haiku written in English and more than a score of other languages worldwide. He studied Japanese at Yale University, where he dis-covered haiku. He was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968, and edited and published Haiku Magazine from 1971 to 1976. Among his awards are a Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America and the Sora Award, honoring an HSA member who has made an outstanding contribution to the organization over time. His four books on haiku were published with major houses. Al-together, he wrote or edited more than 30 books and chapbooks of poems, translations, and commentary. Since the early 1970s, he made his primary living as a teacher of writing, working especially with young people. 

Penny Harter's poetry, including haiku and other Japanese-related genres, has been published widely in journals and anthologies. Her most recent books include One Bowl, a prize-winning e-book of haibun published by Snapshot Press in England; Recycling Starlight, and The Night Marsh. Another collection of haibun,The Great Blue, is forthcoming from Mountains and Rivers Press, along with a new collection of free verse, The Resonance Around Us. Her children's illustrated alphabestiary, The Beastie Book, is published by Shenanigan Books. She is a past president of the Haiku Society of America, and has visited Japan a number of times as a guest of government agen-cies and poetry organizations. She has appeared on Japanese television, and has addressed audiences at the Museum of Haiku Literature in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. She has won three poetry fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as fellowships and awards from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the first William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award for her work in the anthology American Nature Writing. She is a poet-in-residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and has worked for many years as a teaching poet for the Council's Arts-in-Education program. She also travels to give workshops and lectures on poetry and creative writing.