Comparison Author Study of Haiku
by Emiko Miyashita, Bill Pauly, and Ikuyo Yoshimura
After attending the Global Haiku Festival at Millikin University
in Spring 2000, I became very interested in the aspects of
global haiku. I found the sessions to be educational and enjoyable.
The festival helped open my eyes to a world of haiku that
I had not known existed. It made me more aware of such concepts
in haiku as a seasonal element ("kigo"), form, hiaga,
and the Eastern and Western perceptions of haiku. Of these
concepts, I found the most interesting to be the practice
of kigo, or seasonal word in haiku. There were two main haiku
authors in attendance at the festival that I wanted to learn
more about through their work. These two individuals were
Bill Pauly and Emiko Miyashita. Another haiku author I found
interesting was Ikuyo Yoshimura, who also attended the Global
Haiku Festival. Therefore, it is my privilege to compare and
contrast their haiku.
At first, I was only going to compare Bill and Emikos
haiku, but due to research difficulties I could not find much
of Emikos work. I was worried that the two haiku by
Emiko that I found would not be helpful enough in this comparison.
While I was waiting for Emiko to send some of her work, I
contacted Ikuyo through e-mail. She was very responsive to
my questions and honored to be interviewed by one of Dr. Randy
Brooks students. So, when I received Emikos haiku
I decided to do a three person comparison study.
About The Authors
Emiko Miyashita was born in Japan. She graduated from
Doshisha University in Kyoto in 1978; where she studied English
Literature. Emiko has actively participated in the internationalization
of haiku. She does this by being involved in and a member
of the International Haiku Association and the Haiku Society
of America. Currently, Lee Gurga and Emiko form translations
of contemporary Japanese haiku, such as the book titled "Love
Haiku" by Masajo Suzuki. The majority of this haiku is
by Akito Arima and Masajo Suzuki. Dr. Akito Arima became her
haiku leader in 1959, when they met on a ship crossing the
Pacific. She has spent time in the United States learning
the English language, but now resides in Japan with her husband.
Bill Pauly was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1942. He
graduated from Loras College with his B.A. in English Literature.
He received his M.A. in English Literature from the University
of Notre Dame. For two years of his life he served as a volunteer
for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa, teaching
secondary grades English and French. Currently, he lives in
Iowa with his wife and teaches courses at Loras College. Raymond
Roseliep, now widely considered an American haiku master,
introduced Bill to haiku. They were all writing what WAS considered
to be the standard 5-7-5 haiku. He is the recipient of three
First Prizes in the H.G. Henderson annual competitions.
Ikuyo Yoshimura was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1944.
She, like Emiko, graduated from the Doshisho University, and
received her B.A. in English Literature. She then went on
to receive her M.A. from Aichigakuin University. Ikuyo began
writing poetry during her college years and studied haiku
under the leadership of Kaneko Tohta. In her reply to my questions,
she mentioned that because she was Japanese, she had studied
Japanese haiku in elementary school about fifty years ago.
However, she was introduced to haiku in English at Doshisha
in 1965. Because there were no Modern American poem classes,
she studied and learned haiku-like poems by herself. Through
reading American haiku, she became interested in Japanese
haiku translation into English. Currently, Ikuyo is an Associate
Professor of English at Asahi University and lives in Gifu
City with her family.
Seasonal Element (Kigo)
We have heard that haiku are "nature" poems. Some
think that because haiku are nature poems, they need to include
some seasonal element. However, when we read haiku we usually
do not recognize its seasonal associations when they exist.
When the author uses a seasonal word or event, it gives the
reader a sense of time. For example, the word "petals"
might represent cherry blossoms in spring.
One of the Japanese traditions was to include some type of
kigo word when writing haiku. Haiku began as a starting verse,
or hoku, for a renga. At parties, groups of poets would pass
around a piece of paper and everyone added haiku to it. The
first stanza of the renga had to present a sense of time.
More subtle poets today use an object of a specific season
to evoke a sense of time. Many of your modern haiku poets
do not use a kigo word in their haiku. They find it bothersome
to learn what plant and household objects belong to which
Emiko includes a seasonal word in almost all of her haiku.
Underneath each haiku, she writes the seasonal word used for
the haiku and then identifies the season it is found. When
Emiko came to the Global Haiku Festival, she brought along
gifts for everyone. These gift were small drawstring pouches
that contained a kigo word inside. Whatever word you opened,
you wrote a haiku about it. My word was watermelon. The following
is my seasonal word haiku:
sweet juices drip
from my chin
Bill Pauly is however just the opposite of Emiko. "The
sense of season is pervasive in my life and my haiku, but
I dont feel compelled or constrained to include a kigo,
or season word, in my haiku to make them haiku, nor do I hold
my students to that requirement" he explains. I think
of Bill as using the seasonal element more subtly. However,
a few of his haiku include a seasonal element and are not
Ikuyo, like Bill, does not always use a kigo word in her
haiku. In some ways, she is even less subtle about the season.
Several of her haiku actually state the season (i.e. spring).
Even though her haiku are not as subtle in the use of kigo,
they are still nice haiku. It is interesting that two Japanese
natives are so different. One would assume that all Japanese
haiku poets would use kigo in their haiku regularly, but they
I thought the following haiku would be nice comparisons with
the use of kigo in the haiku:
Venus at dusk
a thin slice of lemon
in my water glass
swish of her nightsilk
the brush of lipstick
Emiko creates a very peaceful image with this
first haiku. The fall season is captured with the kigo word
"lemon". I absolutely love this haiku. However,
I dont consider the season to be summer. I consider
lemons to be a summer object rather than fall. I picture a
person sitting outside listening to nature speak at dusk.
It is warm outside, not cool. She just finished a tall glass
of water. There are beads of sweat on the side of the glass
as well as droplets on the table. Some of the droplets are
fading into her shirt. The only remains of her drink are the
seeded lemon at the bottom of her glass and the melting ice.
Bills haiku also includes a seasonal element.
This haiku is subtler in its use of kigo. I am still not quite
sure when milkweed pods bloom. I know that during the early
summer my sister and I would go and pull them from the fence
line. After pulling them we would tear them apart and let
their insides fly away. The insides were cotton-like. It would
fly away gracefully in silence. The image of the night silk
falling is as graceful and almost as silent as the insides
of the milkweed pods.
Ikuyo is more obvious in her use of kigo. The
reader need not think long to realize that the season is spring.
This is a different approach than Emiko and Bill used, but
it still works. However, I do not think the reader gets as
much freedom to imagine when the haiku is set up this way.
There is little freedom here because the reader has to relate
the haiku to just spring, not really the other seasons. I
personally like a more subtle approach to the use of kigo.
It allows the reader to think more freely upon a subject.
The images are very vivid in this haiku. During the spring
one can see bright reds, pinks, oranges, and pastels, which
are similar to the shades of lipstick. It is nice that the
color of lipstick is optional. The reader can imagine whatever
color they want.
Another nice comparison of haiku with the use of kigo is in
the following haiku:
to the poets house
the barefooted guests
along the shore
footprints on the shore
filling with stars
a broken shore
half-buried in the sand
All of these haiku contain images of walking
along the shore barefoot. The first two haiku are subtler
in their use of the seasonal element. As the reader, I cannot
tell what season they are in. My guess would be summer. Ikuyo,
on the other hand, is more obvious with her seasonal element.
The reader knows that it is autumn. However, unlike the first
two haiku this one holds a bit of humor. I like how she captured
this moment of realization that the sand in a child sandbox
is from a shore somewhere.
Bills haiku in this comparison is of a beautiful image.
I picture a couple walking along the beach, possibly dancing.
The tides are coming in and with each step they take water
fills the footprints left behind. In the reflection of the
water I see the stars of the night sky. There are so many
that the moment leaves me breathless.
Emikos haiku reminds me of a vacation spot in the summer
time. The person walking along the shore is visiting her friend,
which just happens to be a poet. Perhaps I am reading too
much into this haiku, but there seems to be more to this haiku.
I am imagining that the person walking is also a poet. However,
she hasnt written anything for a while. She is walking
on the shore to capture ideas for writing. Maybe she went
to a secluded part of the shoreline to sit and listen and
meditate. I think this is a nice image. It is almost like
the visitor is trying to find what he or she lost.
I have learned a great deal from this comparison
of haiku from a global aspect. All three of these poets are
very talented and interesting people. I am honored that I
was able to study their works and interview them. I hope that
other students will find these poets intriguing and want to
contact them to learn more about their work and their views