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Poets on Issa

alphabetical by last name

What do poets today think about Issa, haiku, and the influence of the one on the other?


Dimitar Anakiev

Dimitar Anakiev Personal confession in Issa's poems is perhaps the most attractive element of his poetry. His poetic avowal turned haiku from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, from admiration of God (Nature) to pure humanism and love. In this way Issa is the apostle of modern haiku. Personally, I always was very close to his poetry. Some of my best poems are directly inspired by Issa...read more


Ludmila Balabanova

Ludmila Balabanova I have learnt from many authors, but it seems that the world of Issa is closest to my spirit. The French writer Saint-Exupéry says that we come from our childhood as we come from a country. I come from a sad childhood. My sister was ill. I was sixteen when she passed away. Reading Issa's haiku, at first I knew nothing about his childhood, but...read more


Curtis Dunlap

Curtis Dunlap My daily walk leads to a wooden bridge that spans a small stream. While the practical purpose of this bridge is to connect two banks, it also serves as a place where life intersects. Frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles all live here, or nearby—along with dragonflies and my personal favorite, the Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly. The other day a female damselfly....read more


Carlos Fleitas

Carlos Fleitas Kobayashi Yataro was born in 1763 and chose as his poetic pseudonym "Issa," or "Cup of Tea." His life was a series of calamaties and sorrows that doubtlessly molded his personality. Among them stand out the death of his mother when he was three years old, his stepmother's lack of compassion and downright hostility, and the death of his grandmother...read more


Gabi's Icon

Gabi Greve For me, Issa is one of the great SENPAI, one that did what I do a long time before me, a sort of big brother, teacher, companion of lonely hours... His respect for the small things in life, his own simple life...reflect exactly what we do here in our Paradise Hermitage, GokuRakuAn. It was not meant to imitate him on purpose, it just happens to be that way...read more


Bill Higginson

Bill Higginson Regarding Issa, what I said in The Haiku Handbook still expresses my deepest feelings about him: It is easy to sentimentalize, and thereby trivialize, the life and poetry of Issa. Japanese, as well as Western translators, have often been guilty of doing so. But Issa's verses are usually clear of such sentimentality, the few popularly remembered exceptions notwithstanding...read more


Jim Kacian

Jim Kacian Style is the element of writing which is most personal (as opposed to, say, content, which is largely shared, and no more so than in traditional haiku). Priest and poet Issa employed a folksy, empathetic style to suggest his own persona as well as to attract sympathetic readers. He was the first to employ the cult of personality in haiku...read more


Toru Kiuchi

Toru Kiuchi I went to Mt. Togakushi to compose haiku with my fellow haiku poets on July 31, 1995. We took a bus from the Japan Railways Nagano Station. The bus climbed up a steep mountain road slowly. The higher we climbed, the colder it became, although it was a hot summer day. I was thinking of the fact that not only Issa but everybody had to walk along this treacherous mountain road during the Edo Era...read more


l.s.

l.s.

I "met" Issa many years ago. Being a reader and a loving creature, I was frustrated because I perfectly well realized the fact that I could not understand his genius profoundly. But seven years ago I left my comfortable dwelling, my city, my rewarding intellectual work. I went abroad seeking casual work in order to save my nuclear family. And then at last,...read more


Emiko

Emiko Miyashita Kobayashi Issa is famous. It is likely that his name is mentioned after Matsuo Bashô and Yosa Buson, if you ask someone to name haiku poets in Japan. I still have not had a chance to read carefully through the entire works of Issa; however, his haiku seem to be scattered here and there in our daily lives even in this twenty-first century Japan...read more


Naia

Naia
don't worry, spiders
I keep house
lightly

Issa (tr. unknown to me)

Although Robert Hass' translation (using "casually" as the final word) is most widely known, when one day I opened a book and read my first haiku written by those considered masters in Japan, it was this poem in this translation that sank inside me so deeply I knew I wanted more...read more


Sakuo Nakamura

Sakuo Nakamura I wrote this haiku for my New Year's greeting card of this year:
with Issa
over time and space
Happy New Year

Every day translator David Lanoue sends me one of Issa's haiku written in English. Referring to this haiku, I paint a haiga and post it to my blog...read more


Bob Poulin

Bob Poulin Haiku is an adventure in fun, just plain old common fun with time, events, and happenings using just old common language to tell what it is you discovered and realizing it discovered you discovering it. Haiku is something in Nature you enjoy realizing and seeing that hits you between the eyes and you feel dizzy with giddy realization that you are involved...read more


Gabriel Rosenstock

Gabriel Rosenstock There's a hymn, isn't there, "What a friend we have in Jesus." That's the way I feel about Issa. (Actually, the Irish for Jesus is Íosa and sometimes people are confused as to whom I am referring!) I feel he is a living friend, a compassionate companion...read more


Sasa Vasic

Saša Važic The first question is whether what we are offered in translation from Japanese, most often into English or from English into other languages, has been transferred correctly and accurately. Not only in Issa's case. Most of his poems, at least those available to our (Serbian) readers, can be said to be, more or less, easy to understand...read more


Michael Dylan Welch

Michael Dylan Welch When describing the great Japanese masters of haiku, the traits that always arise to distinguish Issa are his folksy and empathetic style and a penchant for what Lewis Mackenzie called "a cheerful and endearing interest in the smallest matters of daily life." Indeed, the attitude of Issa's poems on snails, fleas, sparrows, and crickets, as well as his careless way of life, have made him surely the most endearing poet in the history of Japan...read more

Angelika Wienert

Angelika Wienert When I read my first Issa haiku (translated into German) I was fascinated. In Issa's haiku I met a friend, and I still do. In 2003 I wrote a little essay about Issa in German, Issa, der verkannte Haijin. My readers were very astonished that Issa had lived as a devoted Shin-Buddhist...read more

Poets interested in sharing their views on Issa should send them to David G. Lanoue at david1gerard@hotmail.com, along with a digital picture.