Melanie Hayes

Comparison Author Study of Haiku
by Emiko Miyashita, Bill Pauly, and Ikuyo Yoshimura

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

Melanie Hayes


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 Emiko’s haiku, but due to research difficulties I could not find much of Emiko’s 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 Emiko’s 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 season.

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
ripe watermelon

Bill Pauly is however just the opposite of Emiko. "The sense of season is pervasive in my life and my haiku, but I don’t 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 as subtle.

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 do not.
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

Emiko Miyashita

milkweed pods
swish of her nightsilk

Bill Pauly

spring nearby
the brush of lipstick
working smoothly

Ikuyo Yoshimura

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 don’t 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.

Bill’s 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 poet’s house
the barefooted guests
along the shore

Emiko Miyashita

night dancers’
footprints on the shore
filling with stars

Bill Pauly

Autumn seashore
a broken shore
half-buried in the sand

Ikuyo Yoshimura

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.
Bill’s 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.
Emiko’s 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 hasn’t 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 on haiku.

—Melanie Hayes


©2001 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors