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Haiku: This Other World
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Haiku: This Other World

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  368 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Richard Wright discovered haiku through a volume of English translations of the great Japanese masters of the form. Fighting illness, and frequently bedridden, Wright became so excited about the discovery that he began writing his own haiku, in which he attempted to capture, through his sensibility as an African-American, the same Zen discipline and beauty in depicting man ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 30th 1998 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1998)
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Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent collection of haiku. I've never read anything by Wright before, but I enjoy his voice, which is lively and melancholic. It's nostalgic and sad but beautiful and evocative. I read most of the haiku rather quickly, but some of them made me pause and linger over the beauty of the words, the ingenuity of the alliteration, and the poignancy of the images. I wrote a few down that stood out to me the most.
The introduction by Wright's daughter is well-written and informative. She al
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paris, poetry
One of my favorite poetry books, this is Native Son and Black Boy author Richard Wright's posthumously-published volume of haiku written during the last 18 months of his life in what his daughter calls "his French exile". He would hang newly written haiku on sheets of paper in his Paris apartment like laundry, and count syllables sitting in cafes. This is life closely observed through Wright's eyes and heart and crafted with a Japanese, Zen-like precision. These are wonderful.
 The Black Geek
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent group of poems composed by one of the most beloved and skilled 20th century American writers. I appreciated how this work shows us a different side of this writer and his style; Wright never limited his form of expression. If you have enjoyed his fiction, his haiku are definitely worth reading.
Robert Hobkirk
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haiku was written not long before Wrigt's death, and what a treasure it was to be left to his family and the world. All the haiku are in the disciplined seventeen beats, 5/7/5 line construction. He spent over a year writing haiku and nothing else. These haiku show what a sensitive beautiful soul Wright was. While reading them I thought, "Wish mine were as good."
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read a review of this book when it was first published, but I didn't get around to buying it until I came back to Japan and joined an English haiku circle.
Now I'm a huge fan. The images are beautiful and Richard (as we call him in my haiku circle) strictly follows the 5-7-5 form. I reread this book whenever I need to recharge.
Nothing like an African-American in France writing haiku in English to help put everything in perspective.
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Richard Wright used haiku to grapple with a string of tragic human personal lose and his own illness.

Richard Wright's daughter, Julia Wright described her father's work as "self-developed antidotes against illness, and that "breaking down words into syllables matched the shortness of his breath." They also offered her father “a new form of expression and a new vision, with the threat of death constantly before him, he found inspiration, beauty, and insights in and through the haiku form. The dis
Alicia Bernal
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HAIKU by Richard Wright

His is a precise pattern of seventeen syllable, that is- 5-7-5. It has to take the gentlest soul to count every single heartbeat that lived out to share the sublime experience of his poetry.

Imagine then his coming to life in the book speaking of the haiku of nature you longed to hear in order to understand the everyday life far more deeply:

“Dewdrop joins dewdrop
Till a petal holds a pool
Reflecting its rose.”
~Richard Wright
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Two passages from the afterward to Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright.

"The intent of all haiku and the discipline of the form is to render the haiku moment, to express the 'ah-ness.' In linking directness and paradox, the essential aspects of haiku indicate that the poet needs to look straight at things and to transform the perception into words that do not depend upon metaphors or symbols. Rather, the poet should present the event or object nude, so as to form a doorway for the mind. The
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blackness, poetry
From the gourd of the purest waters which can reflect the bottomless abyss of the sky, at times, but where often the moon looms, luring & longing as a mysterious lover for whom memories ache to be carved. Wright, in the carriage of haiku, seems a natural, in every sense of the word, as the majority of the writing invokes the bucolic spirit of the art form. The moments are frozen in the strokes of his artistry. Snapshots which would forever chase the path of oblivion if not for these laconic ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic collection. A real breath of fresh air. I had never read any Richard Wright before, and I'm not sure if/when I'll pick up other books by him, but these haiku are really, really nice. Some obviously more so than others, but they frequently exemplify the traditional characteristics of haiku (the split, the seasonal reference) and give a fresh perspective on the mundane. I haven't been reading this book in order, so I don't think I've actually read all of the poems, but I've read a ...more
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Wright's style of haiku may not be one for the purist, but if you can appreciate poetry without the need for neat little categories, you might just enjoy it. Wright uses the familiar 5-7-5 style bemoaned by many experts, but styles, like book covers, are hardly worthy of judgment.

If you're looking for something other than the same traditional haiku that have existed for centuries, this is a nice departure. Wright's moments are simple and straightforward. I have found myself rereading thi
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love this book! Most people are familiar with his books "Native Son" and "Black Boy." Wright was also a poet. This is a nice collection of haiku he wrote over a period of time while he basically lived in French exile. He wrote about four thousand haiku. Wright selected 817 for this collection in 1960 the year he died. There are also copious notes in this book that help put these poems in historical and cultural context
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I only read the haiku portion of the book, so feel free to think of that how you may. I liked Wright's poetry and found it inspiring for my own practice the first time I looked at this book; I'm glad I went back to finish reading the poetry. I had many I enjoyed, so I'll just share one:

In a quiet forest,
Out of a pool of cold rain,
A rat laps the stars.
Moving Haiku poems from the beginning of the book until the end. These poems were written at the end of Wright's life as he was in self exile in Paris. When he died, his family found these poems written on scraps of paper, in diaries and other assorted places for writing. They are quite beautiful and a moving tribute to the writing of Richard Wright.
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, haiku
This i was my second time reading this volume. The first in Halifax on vacation and the second a page or so a day in the morning over many months. I know I will read it again in years to come. It inspired me to buy several more books of haiku and now I can't start the day without a few haiku; a morning ritual.

Look, look,look!
These are all the violets
Left by last night's rain!
C.B. Wentworth
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful collection of haiku that straddles the line between traditional haiku and senryu. Overall I enjoyed Wright's imagery and subtle humor as he explored the natural world and the human psyche.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was written during the last months of Richard Wright's life. The haiku is meaningful and adheres to the strict 5-7-5 pattern. I highly recommend this book; I usually peruse this collection once a year.
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
That Richard Wright spent the last years of his life writing hundreds of haiku is one of my favorite literary facts. This is worth checking out even just for curiosity's sake, but many of the 800 poems in here are excellent, and a good introduction to serious haiku.
Kathleen Brown
This book is not to be rushed through. Each haiku ( there are 817) is like a small picture in time, yet timeless in the contemplation of it. Richard Wright's heightened observations of the everyday world around him are exquisitely painted in the simple, spare form of haiku. A meditative read.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: skimmed
I learned that I am incapable of reading large quantities of haiku at one time.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The imagery is amazing, I just wish I had more time to disect the poems before returning this book to the library.
Katu Khan
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely collection of poetic vignettes that range from the mundane to the sublime. Yet all have a meaning.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, acpl, 2011
I borrowed this from the library, and fell in love--with the poems, the essays...I even love its shape. I'm buying myself a copy now; that's how much I love it.
Sherrie Gingery
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing the beauty that the writer was able to see, feel and articulate at the end of his life.
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
cannot unsee "horse piss scalds a nest of ants" Richard why
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While sick and financially stressed, Richard Wright composed more than four thousand haiku the last few years of his life. He chose 817 of those for a manuscript that would become this book. This gorgeous work combines that manuscript with a great afterword on the history and significance of the haiku form of poetry both within Japanese society and as it has been adapted internationally. Wright’s childhood in Mississipi and adult life in France intimately color his grasp of the natural, intuitiv ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I don't love Richard Wright's haiku -- but I'm not sure I love anybody's haiku, for that matter. This book of 809 haiku was culled from about 4,000 haiku Wright wrote in a period of about 18 months, give or take, and he chose the ones published.

The "rules" of haiku were not well known then, so almost all of the haiku here are in the traditional 5-7-5-syllable format. Most of them are long sentences, which isn't, in my opinion, the best way to write haiku. He also uses a lot of punctuation -- he
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Good to read for greater knowledge of earlier writers of English language haiku. Wright only wrote haiku in the last year or so of his life and makes me wonder how his writing might have changed if given more time in this sphere. The older style of capitalized lines and more punctuation are noticeable in contrast to more modern haiku in English.
Mon Maryum
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, h-title
Some of my favorites-

The crow flew so fast
That he left his lonely caw
Behind in the fields.

A wounded sparrow
Sinks in clear cold lake water,
Its eyes still open.

The sport stadium:
Every seat is taken
By whirling snowflakes.

A leaf chases wind
Across an autumn river
And shakes a pine tree.

(I accidentally deleted my review! :'(
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Not a book to rush through, but very enjoyable to read and savor
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Fourth Quarter Book Review 1 4 Jun 16, 2014 05:16PM  
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Richard Nathaniel Wright was an African-American author of powerful, sometimes controversial novels, short stories and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerned racial themes. His work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Richard Wright...

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Winter rain at night
Sweetening the taste of bread
And spicing the soup.”
More quotes…