Stephen Addiss is the author of many books on East Asian art and culture, including A Haiku Menagerie, Haiku Garden, Haiku People, Haiku Landscapes, Haiku Humor, Haiga: Takebe Socho and the Haiku-Painting Tradition, The Art of Zen, and Zen Sourcebook. A painter and calligrapher whose works have been frequently exhibited and published, he teaches at the University of Richmond and co-edits South by Southeast: Haiku and Haiku Arts Journal.
1. Why do you write haiku?
I had been composing them occasionally for some years, but what got me fully involved was translating haiku for various book and catalogue projects relating to Japanese art. When I was in college more than 50 years ago, a poetry teacher named Edwin Honig told us that the great ages of poetry in English were also great ages of translation, and I believe that working tenaciously to get the meaning, sound, and rhythm across in another language, no matter how ultimately impossible, is a great way to develop one's own poetic sensibility and skills. My own haiku are the source and also the result of focusing my attention.
2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
I used to enjoy and write sonnets, and now I occasionally work on tanka and linked verse, but aside from haiku my major interest has been free verse.
3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits)
stepping into holes
left by the postman
South by Southeast 7/1, A Glimpse of Red, Frogpond 23/2
HSA Newsletter 12/1
old pond paved over
into a parking lot—
one frog still singing
Daily Yomiuri 2/5/96, Mainichi Shinbun, Haiku People
Next week, Mike Farley.