PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ORIGINAL IS FIVE PAGES AND EASILY FOUND ONLINE Those who think of haiku as simple little poems should certainly get out and read “Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!,” with its title quoted from one of Gill’s translations of a poem by Issa, one of several poems the master wrote on the subject. For, like the book, haiku are not as simple as all that, and Gill would have us plunge deeply into the complexity that richly endows Japanese haiku with enough guts to keep going for generation after generation. The book is definitely about guts, and the guts of sea cucumbers (the sea slugs of the title, a problem in nomenclature Gill addresses early on) are slippery and endless. As are the guts of the haiku tradition. Anyone really interested in the power of season words (= “season terms” in Gill’s terms) should take up this book of nearly 1,000 poems on the little critters with gusto. For in its pages these poems come to life as no other haiku translated from Japanese have ever come to life before. . . . . . . . Gill ably justifies his multiple-translation efforts: “Multiple translation is often the only way to translate all the faces of a poly-faceted poem in a witty, which is to say, brief manner, when trying to squeeze all the information into one poem would kill it, and not including that information—and this is, regretfully, almost standard with haiku translation today—would constitute negligence with respect to the intent of the original.” . . . . . . . Gill, who spent twenty years in Japan finding and assisting with the translation of English nonfiction books fusing science and the humanities for two Japanese publishers, not to mention writing half a dozen substantial books in Japanese himself, probably has a better grasp of Japanese haiku culture than anyone since Jack Stamm. (Oh God, how Jack would have loved this book!) . . . . . . . This single-topic tome may be our best English-language window yet into the labyrinth of Japanese haikai culture. If you have read Yasuda, Blyth, Henderson, Ueda, and Shirane, then read Gill. He will expand your mind. If you have not read those guys yet, then read Gill first. He’s more fun. NOTE FROM AUTHOR: HIGGINSON DID NOT KNOW THAT I TOO KNEW AND LOVED JACK STAMM. A SELF-DESCRIBED MINOR BEAT POET; WE MET IN A COUNTRY MUSIC JOINT IN JAPAN. I WILL HAVE SOMETHING OF HIS -- NOT HAIKU -- IN A SOON-TO-BE-PUBLISHED BOOK “A DOLPHIN IN THE WOODS.” MY BOOKS MAY DO MORE FOR YOU THAN BLYTH, BUT BLYTH IS A HELL OF A READ, SO I DO NOT KNOW IF I WOULD RECOMMEND MYSELF OVER HIM, BUT THANKS!
Causes Robin Gill Supports
I have been told by readers inspired by my books that they went to work for NGO's because they read my book, but I have been a pauper for so many years now...