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The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan [Paperback]

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Item description for The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan by Abigail Friedman & Michael Dylan Welch...

The problem came to a head one day as I was driving through Tokyo. While waiting for the light to change, I saw the following public service announcement on the side of a bus: Omoiyari hitonikurumani konomachini (Sympathy / toward people, toward cars / toward this town). Seventeen syllables. Five-seven-five format. It must be a haiku, I thought. But when I reached the office and repeated the announcement to my Japanese coworkers, none of them thought it was a haiku. I knew they were thinking to themselves, What kind of a lunatic is she? One tried to break the news to me gently, It's not a haiku, it's an advertising jingle. Well, I knew it was an advertising jingle, but still, wasn't it an advertising jingle haiku?-From The Haiku Apprentice

Abigail Friedman was an American diplomat in Tokyo, not a writer. A chance encounter leads her to a haiku group, where she discovers poetry that anyone can enjoy writing. Her teacher and fellow haiku group members instruct her in seasonal flora and fauna, and gradually she learns to describe the world in plain words, becoming one of the millions in Japan who lead a haiku life. This is the author's story of her literary and cultural voyage, and more: it is an invitation to readers to form their own neighborhood haiku groups and, like her, learn to see the world anew.

"...A deft and seamless merging of genres: at once memoir, travel literature, and an unpretentious guide onto the terrain of Japanese poetry. It will appeal not just to poetry lovers, but to all readers who are curious about the world beyond their own borders." -- Foreword Magazine

"Friedman is an appealing guide through an alternate Japan where modern people make poems about teacups and temples but also about skyscrapers and kidney surgery." -- East Bay Express

"The book is not designed to make the reader a poet, but it does, perhaps, help us to pay more attention to our poetical eye." -- BiblioBuffet

"The Haiku Apprentice gives the reader an original, thoughtful and personal glimpse of one expat's productive encounter with Japan." -- Metropolis

"...Notable for its frankness and enthusiasm...Friedman has made a lively narrative out of the things she learned..."-- The Japan Times

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Item Specifications...

Pages   235
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2006
Publisher   Stone Bridge Press
ISBN  193333004X  
ISBN13  9781933330044  

Availability  0 units.

More About Abigail Friedman & Michael Dylan Welch

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Abigail Friedman joined the Foreign Service in 1988 and served her country in Washington, Paris, Tokyo, the Azores and most recently as Consul General in Quebec City. She is a member of the Haiku Society of America and Haiku Canada. She is a founding member of the bilingual (French/English) Quebec Haiku Group in Quebec City.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Anthologies
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Japanese & Haiku
5Books > Subjects > Reference > General
6Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Writing
7Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Writing Skills

Reviews - What do customers think about The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan?

Journey into Haiku  Aug 16, 2006
The Haiku Apprentice is the joyous story of an American diplomat's journey into the realm of haiku while living in Japan. More than that, it is an account of spiritual and political self-scrutiny. Abigail Friedman is a marvelous narrator, and I find it easy to enter her world. Friedman's descriptions are vibrant, while her down-to-earth wit spices the narrative, which is consistently intelligent and sharp.

This writer is careful not to leave linguistic stumbling blocks. She opens doors for less experienced readers, with lucid explanations of Japanese words, pronunciations, and traditions. As Friedman describes her haiku education under the tutelage of Kuroda Momoko, one of Japan's most esteemed haiku masters, readers will surely find it impossible not to learn along with her. Every haiku student should read her discussions of kigo and Zen. She features contextually relevant haiku throughout, including some written by her fellow poets in Japan and a few by the author. Her translations of well-known haiku by the Old Masters invite readers to rediscover their timeless appeal. When seen again through Friedman's eyes, long-familiar poems are newly inspiring.

After the author joins a haiku group, she shares a new awareness regarding haiku poets: "Perhaps all these people had discovered something I was just now learning; that survival in an increasingly complex world requires each of us to tend to our souls, our individuality, more than ever. I needed to nurture my ability to see the world as I saw it, not as others might see it."

Abigail Friedman ends the story of her haiku quest with perhaps her most important insights: "My new name was a reminder to me that haiku is not just about writing about beauty, but is a path of self-discovery. I could not expect to write good haiku if I was not seeking to be true to myself."

This book is delightfully accessible, regardless of the reader's experience (or lack of it) with poetry or Japanese language and culture. I recommend The Haiku Apprentice, not only to haiku aficionados, but also to anyone who enjoys a good read. - Ferris Gilli, Associate Editor, The Heron's Nest

A literary and cultural journey in Japan  Jul 25, 2006
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (7/06)

Traditionally, haiku is Japanese poetry that is written on three lines. The first line and the third line are composed of 5 syllables and the second line has seven. "The Haiku Apprentice," written by Abigail Friedman, takes us through her journey of discovering how to write Haiku well. It is really more than just those three lines. The Haiku Society of America defines Haiku as, "A short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition." Through Friedman's experiences, she not only learns how to write haiku, but she also learns about the culture and the lives of other haiku writers in her group. As you read her story, you also learn about the richness of the culture. Friedman is able to convey how the Japanese people are able to connect their writings to their lives. As a people they work hard on doing everything well. When you are in their country, you really see this. It doesn't matter what their jobs are, or how menial a task might seem, they do it well. From my personal experience, they are very gracious people. Friedman conveys this in her writings. It adds to the richness of her memoirs. Just reading her story alone is enjoyable, especially when you are learning about her experiences as a diplomat in Japan. I really think that a haiku writer who is not well versed in the Japanese culture will be able to write much better after reading "The Haiku Apprentice". I enjoyed learning about haiku by reading her story, rather than a textbook. This is also a great book to read if you are interested in writing haiku or starting a haiku writer's group. At the end of the book, she offers information and advice on how to start a group. She also has a list of questions to stimulate discussions for a readers group.

Learning about Hiaku  Jul 6, 2006
Ms. Friedman's first literary work is a delight to read and most helpful to anyone interested in learning about Japanese poetry. She painstakenly explains her journey into the Japanese culture necessary to appreciate the feelings and emotions expressed through the Haiku.
It's refreshing to read how this remarkable woman can balance her devotion to her family, her diplomatic career and yet develope an interest in the Haiku.
It's a good relaxing read at anytime and in any place.
A unique and thoughtful memoir  Jul 4, 2006
The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs Of Writing Poetry In Japan by Abigail Friedman is not a standard poetry collection, but rather the personal memoir of an American diplomat in Tokyo who discovered that anyone can enjoy the pleasure of writing haikus. Learning to express herself in haiku introduced her to a literary and cultural world in which poetry was more than a vehicle of expression; it was a means by which neighbors and friends could form a connective bond and see the world in a new way. The Haiku Apprentice is a warm and inviting autobiographical story, and also a kind of loose blueprint for forming haiku or other poetry-writing societies in one's own backyard in order to better foster communication, understanding, and a fresh perspective ready to absorb the wonders of life. A unique and thoughtful memoir, The Haiku Apprentice is enthusiastically recommended reading.

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