My New Favorite Haiku Book

I came upon a fascinating small book, “bring some wine”, by Shoichi Taneda, published by Cholla Needles. The note says that the poems are “imagined into English on the Mohave by R Soos. The “real” Shoichi Raneda was an itinerate Japanese haiku poet, 1882-1940. These poems are a combination of translation, homage, and transmutation.

seasons keep coming
there’s no way I can stop them
the same with haiku

I know I am still alive
because I am itchy

I raise my voice above the wind
and thank the compassion of the

my small begging bowl
is filled with hailstones
in this winter storm

for some reason
stars sing my parents tonight
I offer prayers

Sometimes the voice seems early twentieth century and Japanese, sometimes it as if the haiku poet were literally wandering the Mohave, encountering landmarks well-known to the locals. I asked R Soos—Is the”author” historical, persona, conglomeration, mystic collaboration, or? He answered: “The author is a real person (the photos are really him). I translated his poems, and then took on his persona to accomplish the “mystic collaboration” of making the mountains and villages he wrote of local to our area.” And—“He comes to life in English by imagining him into English as opposed to translating from the Japanese.” 

It is a brilliant and magical poetic leap. Are the two poets alike? R Soos says “This weekend I am “playing” Shoichi at a reading – we rehearsed yesterday, and it feels really good. It’s not truly acting, because his view of the world is so close to mine. The difference is – I’m much more of a coward than him, and I like my family. He wasn’t a great family man, and enjoyed being homeless, and didn’t have any problem begging for sustenance. The aspects that are the same are walking and thinking and trying to take all the thoughts of a day to dig into a single important essence and “tie it down” into a single thought.”

the sunset tonight
helped me forget my old age
for a few hours

This is my new favorite book of haiku.

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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