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Baseball Haiku: The Best Haiku Ever Written about the Game Hardcover – April 17, 2007
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Introduced to Japan in 1872, the quintessentially American game of baseball has inspired more than a century of poetry written on both sides of the Pacific in the quintessentially Japanese literary form of the haiku. An appropriately international partnership of editors-translators--one American, one Japanese--here bring readers a marvelous sampling of these haiku. Including work from 15 Japanese masters (including the acclaimed Masoaka Shiki) and 30 American poets (including the Beat genius Jack Kerouac), this anthology delivers unforgettable baseball experiences in striking imagery. Light rain raising puffs of dust from the infield, a drooping flag cueing a manager to shift his outfielders, a cricket serenading an outfielder in his lonely vigil--these and scores of other baseball moments live forever in the tight compression of these poems. The natural fit between baseball and haiku (and the closely related senryu) comes into historical and conceptual focus in an insightful introduction and afterword, where van den Heuvel ponders this cross-cultural intersection. A rare book, appealing to both die-hard fan and literary critic. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Nanae Tamura is a columnist for the haiku magazine Shiki Shimppo (The Shiki Newsletter) and contributed to If Someone Asks...Masaoka Shiki's Life and Haiku. She lives in Matsuyama, Japan.
The editor of The Haiku Anthology, Cor van den Heuvel is an award-winning haiku poet living in New York City.
Top customer reviews
Whether you love baseball or not if you love haiku you will really enjoy reading this book. This wonderful volume has both American poets and Japanese poets who have written haiku on the sport of baseball. This fantastic book is filled with incredible Haiku from a wide range of poets. The American poets include: Randy Brooks, Tom Claugen. Mike Dillon, David Elliott, Michael Fessler, Brenda Gannam, Lee Gurga, Jim Kacian, Bruce Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, Ed. Markowski, Tom Painting, Alan Pizzarelli, Michael V. Spano and numerous other Americans. Some of the Japanese poets include: Akimoto Fujio, Arima Akito, Imai Sei, Kadokawa Genyoshi, Masaoka Shuoshi, Murio Suzuki, Yamazaki Hisao, Yotsuya Ryu and numerous other poets.
This is a book for anyone who loves baseball and/or haiku. This book could become a classic in the baseball and haiku fields.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Zen Poetry Moments: Haiku and Senryu for special occasions).
Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura have assembled a tour de force of baseball haiku. America brought baseball to Japan and Japan gifted this country with haiku. There is a most enjoyable introduction about the history of baseball haiku in both countries. The book has a long section of haiku by well-known, and less well-known, haiku poets in the United States, followed by a rich collection of translated Japanese haiku featuring the game. Van den Heuvel concludes with an appreciative essay on baseball in the United States and Japan.
Here are some samples which reflect moments which come in the world of baseball:
with his glove on his head
the long fly ball to center field
takes its time
Cor van den Heuvel
dog days of summer
out of first
This last poem sounds the tone of melancholy, called wabi in the classic Japanese haiku tradition, which many of the haiku in this book capture beautifully and hauntingly, and which is certainly is eventually present for any young or aging participant (or observer) in the game. Here are a few more evocations:
while playing ball
it becomes time to go home
the ballgame play-by-play
across the water
Baseball haiku, because of their brevity, will not provide the same kind of reading as Jimmy Breslin's writing about the 1962 Mets in his chapter "They're Afraid to Come Out," nor Ed Linn's reporting on Ted Williams' last game in 1960.
But they make their own special offering. Speaking of melancholy, in my case I grew up in the 1950's in Kansas City, which gives a certain meaning to the term Kansas City Blues. By the way, Cor van den Heuvel loves jazz too. Get the book.
If I had to choose the quintessential kigo (season word) for "summer", it would have to be "baseball". Although played in spring and autumn, nothing for me says "summer" like a baseball game (and at the beach, listening to a game on the radio).
Jim Kacian slyly elevates the game to a religion:
all hands lift
to the foul ball
while Brenda Gannon has some wonderful plays (!) on sex:
my eyes drift down
to the mound
Many of Van Den Heuvel's own haiku deal with the anticipation of the game:
spread out on the bed
a spring breeze
flutters the notice
for baseball tryouts
as well as my favourite:
the game of catch continues
The Japanese haiku have a definite and different expression but the feel and impressions are similar.
My only wish is that there could be more!