Issa: Cup-of-Tea Poems


Asian Humanities Press
Berkeley, California 1991
ISBN 0-89581-874-4

The bad news is, this first little book of mine, which presented 450 of Issa's haiku in seasonal order, is out of print. I'm down to my last copy. The good news is, every one of the haiku in the book also appears in my online archive. Even better, I have been able to correct mistakes, thanks to the help of visitors to that website.

If you really want a copy, you'll need to rummage through small, old bookstores. Good luck!

In the introduction, I wrote: "The more I read haiku, the more I am conviced that it is an art of step-by-step accumulation, as word builds on word into a single, resonant compound ... Presented vertically, the haiku forces the reader to dwell, ever-so-briefly, on each word, each building step in the sequence toward full revelation. In my opinion, there is more of the freshness of the original in this arrangement than one finds in the usual three-line English format."

For my Issa archive, nevertheless, I use the "usual three-line English format":

new spring
Yataro dies, priest Issa
is born

Instead of:


I haven't changed my opinion about vertical haiku format which, after all, Issa and other traditional Japanese poets used. In my online archive I use 3-line verses simply to save paper (and trees), every time someone downloads to print part or all of it.