Knopf Poem-a-Day 2013: April 1, Haiku by Basho and David Young

KnopfPoemHeaderWho better to set the pace on our poem-a-day journey than Basho, the seventeenth-century Japanese poet and bohemian traveler, who left us just over a thousand haiku. A selection of these are newly translated by Knopf poet David Young, and, as he reminds us in his introduction to Moon Woke Me Up Nine Times, we cannot generalize about the mechanism of these great small poems, which “love to startle, first the writer, and then the reader. As though a hummingbird were to land suddenly on your resting arm. It is the way the world so often surprises us, reaffirming its rightness from a direction we didn’t expect.” We offer a handful; if you’re a practitioner, please join in our haiku-writing contest this month (details below).

A bell at sunset
    no one to hear it
        this spring evening

Midnight frost
    I’d like to borrow
        the scarecrow’s coat

Before you cut reeds
    for the roof-thatch
        go moon-viewing!

Sweeping the garden
    the broom as it goes
        forgets the snow

To participate in Knopf’s Poem-a-Day haiku-writing contest, please submit at least one, but no more than five haiku to, including your email address so that we can contact you. We will share the winning verses on our website, Facebook, and Tumblr at the end of the month, and the winners will receive copies of David Young’s Moon Woke Me Up Nine Times: Selected Haiku of Basho, as well as one other recent Knopf poetry title. Thank you for participating! Pass along this link to invite your friends to join our haiku-writing contest.

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