by Jun Igarashi
wifm_winter10_low-97A Collection of Bilingual Haiku by Yuri Aoyama

I am sure you know that haiku is the shortest poetry form in the world, with a history stretching back to the 15th century. But I was intrigued when my editor asked me to review a book of haiku in English as I never knew it was practiced in foreign languages and I didn’t think many foreigners knew that it consists of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven and five.

Haiku is still very much alive in Japanese culture today, and I now know that it has also become popular abroad. One reason for its global appeal is the number of bilingual works published.

Yuri Aoyama’s objective in her second book, Stardrops, is to express Japanese traditional literature in English to those who don’t speak Japanese. Her latest anthology respects haiku’s traditional style, but adds phrases that represent present-day life, using concise English that vividly portrays scenes and emotions without losing originality. Many young Japanese today may not be interested in reading haiku, but I hope Stardrops will help preserve this classic form of poetry and spread it wider throughout the world to globalize a truly great cultural icon of Japan.