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Basho: The Complete Haiku Hardcover – July 1, 2008

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About the Author

JANE REICHHOLD is one of the top poets in the American haiku world. She has written over twenty books, most of them on haiku or poetry, including Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide. Three of her books have received awards from the Haiku Society of America, and she has twice won the Literature Award from the Museum of Haiku in Tokyo.

SHIRO TSUJIMURA is a renowned Japanese artist and potter with works in museums around the world. His striking work appears on the cover and throughout the Kodansha International edition of Bashos classic, A Haiku Journey.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; annotated edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770030630
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770030634
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.1 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I discovered my love of writing while editing the student newspaper and then the yearbook at Pandora-Gilboa High School in Ohio. Even though I won a prestigious state contest and scholarship in science, I enrolled in Bluffton College to study art and literature. Thinking I wanted to be a journalist, I transferred to Ohio State University in Athens, Ohio, but after one semester found out I lack the aggressiveness needed for that profession. I returned to Bluffton, and literature, and to marriage. In my junior year I had my first child and then two more children over the next three years. At Reedley Junior College in California I was able to return to night school and I even went on to Fresno State trying to piece together a degree, a family, and my job as Occupational Therapist at Kings View Hospital - a church-run psychiatric facility.
Over the next twenty years I wrote free-lance articles for everything from Mennonite Church papers for children to art and gay magazines in Germany. In the late 1970s I rediscovered haiku, Japanese culture, and a love of small books. After a divorce and remarriage in Germany I returned to the States and in 1987 started the magazine, Mirrors - An International Forum for Haiku. Through this I also discovered the Japanese poetry forms of renga and tanka. At the same time I switched my company from Humidity Productions and art films to AHA Books in order to concentrate on books of poetry. My daughter made the comment; "Give her enough candy wrappers and she will make a book out of them" was not far from the truth.
In 1990 I started the first tanka contest in English and continued publishing the winning poems in chapbooks as Tanka Splendor for the next twenty years. From 1991 - 92 I edited and published the monthly journal Geppo for the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society. Later in 1992 my husband Werner Reichhold and I took on the publication of Lynx, a magazine that started out as APA-Renga, which we still co-edit. We have expanded the range of poetry forms to include all Japanese-inspired genres with an emphasis on collaborations and sequences. In 1995 I began a website,, to teach and publish poetry in haiku, tanka, renga, haibun, ghazals, and sijo. In 2005 I was able to set up an online program of fora as AHAforum that continues the teaching functions.
During my trip to Japan in 1998, at the invitation of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to the New Year's Poetry Party - Utakai Hajime - at the Imperial Palace, I met Hatsue Kawamura who was then editor of The Tanka Journal in Tokyo. Over the next eight years we translated and published the tanka poems of Fumi Saito, Akiko Baba, Fumiko Nakajo, and Murasaki Shikibu. Stone Bridge Press of Berkeley published A String of Flowers, Untied: Love Poems from the Tale of Genji in which, for the first time, the tanka in this classic were set in the now accepted five-line form.
Kodansha International Publishing of Tokyo requested that I write a handbook for teaching Japanese poetry genres which became Writing and Enjoying Haiku in 2002. The book has also been translated into Russian. In 2008 Kodansha then published Basho The Complete Haiku containing my translations of all of the single poems by this Haiku Master.
My own books published in the last two years include Ten Years Haikujane - haiku published in the local weekly newspaper, Scarlet Scissors Fire - experiments with the tanka form, A Film of Words - inter-genre poetry with Werner Reichhold that blurs the lines between forms, and Circus Forever - haiku and tanka with the pen and ink drawings of Hans-Peter Goettche of Berlin, Germany.
Werner and I live high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Point Arena and Gualala, California.

Customer Reviews

This is a book to look into for years and find something new every time.
Timothy Hallinan
My heartfelt thanks goes out to Jane Reichhold for translating the work of Basho and to Kodansha International for bringing the work to the world.
C. W. Hawes
That makes this book an absolutely necessary part of the library of anyone who wants to understand Japanese poetry beyond its romantic appeal.
E. N. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Matsuo Basho is the undisputed master of haiku. He refined what was seen as a simple, almost comic, style of verse into something that we would call high art. A collection like this, with all of his haiku translated and gathered together into a single, annotated volume is an absolute treasure, and the only surprise is that it wasn't published many years ago.

Of course, collecting the haiku is easy. There are numerous collections available in Japanese, and it is simply a matter of reprinting them. But translating his haiku is a different problem all together. Haiku are a form of art that take unique advantage of the Japanese language, and they can only be approximated at best. There are two general styles, a more-literal translation that tries to capture the form and order of the writer, and an artistic translation that tries to capture the feel of the poem while using the flow of the English language. The main difference is with the third line, which in a Japanese haiku is always a non-sequitur image that relates only indirectly with the first two lines, providing the scenery for the story.

Jane Reichhold takes the artistic approach, and I must admit it is one I am not particularly fond of. This is definitely "Jane Reichhold's Basho: The Complete Haiku", with the emphasis being on her interpretation rather than on introducing people to Basho's poetry. She is undoubtedly talented and respected, having published such books as Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide and
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Bill Kenney on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The poet Basho (born Matsuo Kinsaku in Iga Province, Japan, in 1644) is widely regarded as the founding father of haiku as we have come to know it. It was Basho who brought to the haikai, as much pastime as poetry, of the Japanese merchant class and samurai the high seriousness of true art. High seriousness, we must remember, is not solemnity; lightness is one of the defining qualities of Basho's best poems and a key point of his aesthetic.

Now, in "Basho: The Complete Haiku," we have for the first time a translation into English of all 1012 of Basho's haiku. Jane Reichhold, an accomplished haiku poet and the author of the highly influential "Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-On Guide," has been a Basho enthusiast since she first encountered his work, an encounter that set her on her own haiku path. If her translation is a labor of love, it is also a work of dedicated scholarship and poetic sensibility. In Reichhold, the most famous Japanese poet of all time has found his translator for our time.

In addition to the poetic translations themselves, the book includes, under the heading of "Notes," the original Japanese poems, Romanized versions, literal word-for-word translations, and commentaries that are unfailingly informative and frequently illuminating.

In the back matter, Reichhold provides a chronology of the poet's life, a bibliography of Basho in English, and an index of first lines. All of these are useful, but among the book's most valuable features are a glossary of literary terms (which may also serve for some as an introduction to the spirit of haiku) and an enumeration with examples of 33 haiku techniques employed by the master.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. W. Hawes on August 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since I first discovered Basho, some forty-plus years ago in a seventh grade English class, I have been influenced by the seeming simplicity and power of his poetry. But a complete collection of his haiku did not exist in English and I had to make do with the various partial collections which surfaced now and again.

Now, at long last, thanks to Jane Reichhold and Kodansha International, we have all of Basho's haiku in English. Basho: The Complete Haiku is a literary tour de force which every lover of haiku, poetry, and Basho needs to have on his or her bookshelf.

The book itself is beautifully done with the artwork of Shiro Tsujimura. Subtle and subdued, the illustrations please and tantalize the eye. Offering a wonderful visual counterpoint to the poems themselves.

Reichhold, a haiku poet in her own right, has been on the English haiku scene from the beginning. Her understanding of the form is second to none and she stands amongst the best of English-language haikuists. What better tribute to a poet than for another to translate his work?

Reichhold's labor of love enriches us all. In Basho: The Complete Haiku, we learn of Basho's life, what were the possible influences upon him, and how he in turn influenced others. We gain an understanding of his literary techniques, as Reichhold presents us with an appendix of analysis. A glossary of important terms is also provided. Then, of course, there are the poems.

Basho's haiku are presented in two sections: the main section, which are the superb translations; a second which gives the Japanese, a literal rendering into English, and explanatory notes. The translations themselves are spare, clean, yet full of life. The translator has clearly been touched by the spirit of her mentor.
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