Saturday, November 05, 2005

Emiko Miyashita: a shortcut toward home

I got a postcard from Emiko Miyashita yesterday. It was a nice surprise. I met Ms. Miyashita at the HNA conference and hadn't realized I'd made any impression on her. So I was very pleased to get the card.

Ms. Miyashita is a haiku poet and translator. She is a wise, gracious, and well-spoken person. Here is one of her haiku:

silencing the cricket
a shortcut
toward home

One of Ms. Miyashita's most recent books is The New Pond: An English-Language Haiku Anthology (Hokumeisha, 2002). This book is interesting because it's translations of English-language haiku into Japanese. It shows the difficulty of moving between the two languages. There are two Japanese versions of each poem in English: one, a haiku (5-7-5 syllable poem) that strives to capture something of the sense of the original without being a direct translation and then a paraphrase of the original that is in some ways closer or more exact.

I recommend it for people who are interested in understanding the differences between English and Japanese haiku. However, you have to be able to read at least some Japanese in order to follow that part of it. Alternatively, it has a lot of very good poetry in it (including some efforts to come to terms with the tragedies of September 11th, 2001) in both English and Japanese.

Here's one from the book that I particularly liked. It's by Robert Major. As autumn grows deeper, night seems to grow deeper with it.

No one lights a lamp--
just our voices in the dark
as night descends

Happy Bonfire Night to everyone celebrating it.