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A White Tea Bowl: 100 Haiku from 100 Years of Life Paperback – August 10, 2008
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Haiku is nothing if not fungible. This small, originally Japanese poetic form has traveled and evolved across cultures, languages, and centuries to contain as many meanings as dozens of generations' poets could concoct. Haiku can even accommodate an agenda, and A White Tea Bowl is very much an instrument of its publisher. Front and back matter weigh heavily with contributors' "remembrances," all more or less in the service of citing each contributor's relationship to the poet's husband and furthering Rodmell Press's stated aim: "It is our hope that our books will help individuals develop a more skillful [yoga, Buddhism, Taoism] practice." None of which overly dilutes this book's strengths, foremost the poems themselves. A dedicated practitioner of the form, Mitsu Suzuki wrote haiku for decades (not all "100 Years of Life," as the subtitle might have us believe), and of the thousands she composed, one hundred are here translated into Kate McCandless's feather-deft English and rendered beautifully beneath the original Japanese and a transliteration, one per page. To read them is to participate in a worthwhile celebration of a centenarian bard and, as the poet Jane Hirshfield writes, to find oneself "companioned in ways I cannot name but feel completely." -- Jason Kirk
Mitsu Suzuki is the widow of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of San Francisco Zen Center. After he passed away in 1971, she remained at Zen Center where she taught tea ceremony and began writing poetry. Her first collection of haiku, Temple Dust, was published in 1992.
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