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The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan Paperback – May 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193333004X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933330044
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Abigail Friedman joined the Foreign Service in 1988 and served her country in Washington, Paris, Tokyo, the Azores and most recently as Consul General in Quebec City. She is a member of the Haiku Society of America and Haiku Canada. She is a founding member of the bilingual (French/English) Quebec Haiku Group in Quebec City. Michael Dylan Welch is a poet, editor, and publisher. More than 2.5K of his poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines in ten languages. He is president of the Tanka Society of America (which he founded in 2000), vice president of the Haiku Society of America, and vice president of the Eastside Writers Association.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I recommend The Haiku Apprentice, not only to haiku aficionados, but also to anyone who enjoys a good read.
Ferris Gilli
It's refreshing to read how this remarkable woman can balance her devotion to her family, her diplomatic career and yet develope an interest in the Haiku.
M. Passaglia
BEWARE BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD THE FILE I loved this book, which was lent to me some time ago by a friend in paperback.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ferris Gilli on August 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Haiku Apprentice is the joyous story of an American diplomat's journey into the realm of haiku while living in Japan. More than that, it is an account of spiritual and political self-scrutiny. Abigail Friedman is a marvelous narrator, and I find it easy to enter her world. Friedman's descriptions are vibrant, while her down-to-earth wit spices the narrative, which is consistently intelligent and sharp.

This writer is careful not to leave linguistic stumbling blocks. She opens doors for less experienced readers, with lucid explanations of Japanese words, pronunciations, and traditions. As Friedman describes her haiku education under the tutelage of Kuroda Momoko, one of Japan's most esteemed haiku masters, readers will surely find it impossible not to learn along with her. Every haiku student should read her discussions of kigo and Zen. She features contextually relevant haiku throughout, including some written by her fellow poets in Japan and a few by the author. Her translations of well-known haiku by the Old Masters invite readers to rediscover their timeless appeal. When seen again through Friedman's eyes, long-familiar poems are newly inspiring.

After the author joins a haiku group, she shares a new awareness regarding haiku poets: "Perhaps all these people had discovered something I was just now learning; that survival in an increasingly complex world requires each of us to tend to our souls, our individuality, more than ever. I needed to nurture my ability to see the world as I saw it, not as others might see it."

Abigail Friedman ends the story of her haiku quest with perhaps her most important insights: "My new name was a reminder to me that haiku is not just about writing about beauty, but is a path of self-discovery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hortensia Anderson on January 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The sheer loveliness of the prose in The Haiku Apprentice makes this such a delight. Side by side, we stroll through Japan with Friedman, as she (we) realise that haiku is not just poetry but "a way". Other reviewers have supplied details, however, a few quotes struck me and made me relax in my own endeavours; from Momoko, her Master: "Why would you expect your first haiku about your stone lantern to succeed...After you write a hundred haiku about your lantern, maybe then a good one will emerge." Or Mr. Furuhata -
"So maybe the seasons speak to us more than any spiritual concept could." (importance of kigo) Finally, the purpose of haiku explained by "Traveling Tree Man" - " He explained how devoting himself to haiku had led him to change the way he approached life - now he took all the small corners of the world that presented themselves to him on their own terms." Whatever your involvement with haiku, The Haiku Apprentice is an excellent read. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For someone like me who knows nothing of the subtleties of haiku, this book offers a pleasant way to read about the basics of the form.

The author, an American diplomat in Japan, joins a haiku group in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Already engaged in calligraphy lessons, she is charmingly willing to leap into the unknown to gain a better understanding of Japanese culture.

Reporting on her conversations with various haiku practitioners, Abigail Friedman does a good job of answering the question "why do people write haiku?" She also gives us a wonderful portrait of how happily and successfully the highly socialized Japanese engage in group activities.

It seems that in Japan seven to ten million people write haiku every month. Some take up the practice after a spiritual crisis. Many start writing haiku when they turn 70, an age that makes you think. People with serious illnesses engage in "illness writing," and aging poets are working in advance on their death poem.

I'm still not convinced, however, that anyone can write haiku. There are instructions in the back of the book for starting your own haiku group. But I dread to think what kind of poetry this might engender, without a qualified leader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Cariello on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
What I particularly liked about this book is the author's humility. Abigail Friedman approaches haiku like a true novice, with an open mind and open heart, and finds beneath the customs of haiku clubs and writing formulas an essential humanity. What emerges here is the idea that haiku is an ordinary thing, and that we should all be more ordinary.
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