Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2005, vol 3 no 4


Featured Poet: Ikuyo Yoshimura

Ikuyo Yoshimura of Japan is one of my favorite haiku poets. Her style is unique, with her own voice stamp. Millions of people in the world today compose haiku but few produce the quality of haiku consistent with Yoshimura's. Hers are ephemeral, begging to be read again and again. And believe me, few three lined poems can do that to a reader. Her poetry breathes life, becomes part of the nature she observes. Too much of what is passed for haiku these days is formula based and lacking soul. With this in mind, Ikuyo Yoshimura's poetry is a summer melon, something to savor during the dry months the English haiku movement is currently going through.

The poet is someone who does her homework. She studies and practices her craft, and uses what she learns to enrich the lives of others. She is a haiku ambassador, a college professor, a poet, and so much more. Below are samples of her work, published and unpublished. Enjoy, and be inspired.




no one notices
a single cherry ripened
in the depth of the garden
  even the shadows
show up their cheer—
cherry petal
of the hydrangea
thin cries of a cat
  rainy season is over
my hair brightens
in cutting with scissors
making pickled ume
I calm
one of my complaints
  autumn breeze—
wearing mother's kimono
I become gentle


Previously Published:


September sky —
from my maze
  a long rain moistens
the lost national border
of the world map
spring mist
a young priest going to —
no return

Cats in Love, Rainbow Press, 2000
  spring thunder —
a potter's fingers stop
at the wheel
spring nearby
the brush of lipstick
working smoothly
  weeding the garden
I pull out
spring, too
a young wife
washing muddy bamboo shoots,
her white fingers

Spring Thunder, Rainbow Press, 1996
  who keeps
my pearls cultivated in Ago Bay
after my death
in the rape flower fields
the Virgin Mother
is holding a kitten

A Desert Rose, Rainbow Press, 2002

Ikuyo Yoshimura was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1944. She graduated from Doshisha University and then received her MA from Aichigakuin University. She is an associate professor of English at Asahi University in Gifu. She began writing poetry in college. Her poem "Small Pictures" was first published in 1966. At that time she was interested in the Beat poets of the '60s whose poetry was influenced by Japanese haiku. Haiku is a kind of environmental nature literature that can reflect the real moment of sympathizing between man and nature. To write haiku we must have a keen awareness toward our way of living. R.H. Blyth has told us, "Haiku shows us what we knew all the time, but did not know we knew; it shows us that we are poets in so far as we live at all." She conducted The Writing English Haiku Circle "EVERGREEN" in 1987, which is the first English haiku writing group in Japan. She is the recipient of several haiku awards, including the Aichi Prefecture Prize for Haiku in English, the Special Merit Book Award given by The Australia Day Council, and the Haiku Four Seasons Award given by Newsweek. She lives in Gifu with her family.

Recent publications include At the Riverside (1990), Renaissance of the Works of R.H. Blyth (Matsugaoka Library 1995), Linked Poems by College Students (ed., Ogaki Women's College 1995), The Life of R.H. Blyth (Dohosha 1996), Spring Thunder (Rainbow Press 1996), Cats in Love (Rainbow Press 2000), The Internationalization of Japanese Poems (Chugainippohsha), and A Halo Around The Moon (Rainbow Press 2004). She has published numerous articles on haiku in English. Her poems often appear in Simply Haiku, HI (Japan), Simyaku, (Japan), Frogpond (USA), Haiku Headlines (USA), Haiku Quarterly (UK), Blithe Spirit (UK) and Albatross (Romania).