October 2003, Volume 1, Number 4

William J. Higginson

William J. Higginson studied military Japanese at Yale University in 1960, during which time he encountered haiku. His serious study of haiku and other traditional Japanese poetries began in 1962, with the reading of R. H. Blyth's four-volume Haiku, Arthur Waley's Japanese Poetry: The 'Uta' and other books on the subject. During the 1970s, as he delved deeper into the history and background of haiku, he began studying and translating tanka and renku as well. During the last decade or more, he has been studying the works of Western scholars of Japanese waka and tanka, particularly Edwin A. Cranston, Steven D. Carter, Helen Craig McCullough, Edward Kamens, Makoto Ueda, and Robert N. Huey. He also edits the tanka page of the Open Directory. Higginson says "With regard to tanka, mainly I translate them; any that I happen to write on my own are gifts." He is working on a small book of waka and tanka translations and commentary, based on his presentation at the Tanka Society of America's Tanka Day 2003.

Fourth day
commuting to the conference---
the train passes
the same abandoned motel,
no walls where glass used to be


under aspen
and fir in April sun
someone has left
these pink bougainvillea
on the moss of a downed pine


all along
the black miles of the ridge
the afterglow deepens
the crescent moon follows
down the cloudless sky


Written in the back of a collection of Saigyô's poems

refinery flares
gleam through the haze
as the plane lifts
over the ancient wetlands
of New York Bay


While driving at the edge of the City of the Holy Faith of
Saint Francis of Assisi

a woman walks
ill-shod for the rough
beside the road
I'd offer her a ride
but for the consequences . . .

Five Lines Down #1 (Summer 1994)

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