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Frogpond 42.2 • 2019

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - "Owls"

Essay 2 - "Wright's Blindman Haiku"




Book Reviews



by Charles Trumbull

"Owls" from A Field Guide to North American Haiku
(complete PDF version)

Here is a sample excerpt from the opening page of this essay:

Owls may not be the most popular topic for haiku about birds—crows have that distinction—but they rank eighth and they are number one among the raptors. Percentage-wise, owl haiku are slightly more popular among haikuists writing in Japanese than in English.
William J. Higginson provides a thorough classification of owls in Japanese haiku:

Many owls are most prominent in winter, when longer periods of darkness make their nocturnal activities overlap more with our waking hours. Also, their hooting calls increase with mating, mid-to-late winter and early spring for many species. The Japanese saijiki divides owls into two groups, 梟 fukuro, including the snowy owl (白梟 shirofukuro) and ural owl (梟 fukuro), and 木菟 mimizuku, including most of the horned owls, such as the long- and short-eared owls (虎斑木菟 torafuzuku and 小木菟 komimizuku). Additional types with similar habits include the barred, great gray, great horned, saw-whet, and screech owls. In haikai the word “owl” by itself indicates winter, but several other species of owl come to notice at different times of year, for example the HAWK-OWL of Eurasia and North America and the brown hawk-owl (青 葉木菟 aobazuku) of Japan are both commonly seen in summer, and therefore a summer topic.

Gabi Greve adds that the owl is considered auspicious in Japanese culture because its name, pronounced fukuro, can be alternatively read as 不苦労 fukuro, meaning “no hardships, no trouble.” For this reason, owl 縁起物 engimono—talismans or good-luck charms—are very popular. However, of the 65 Japanese haiku involving owls that I have found, there are none at all by Basho, Chiyo-ni, or Buson, though Issa wrote at least 24, Shiki 7, Joso, Kikaku, Santoka, and Takaha Shugyo among others wrote at least one each.

[essay continues for several more pages] . . .

. . .

Trumbull, Charles. "'Owls' from A Field Guide to North American Haiku." Frogpond 42.2, Spring-Summer 2019, 89-106.

This excerpt inclues the first page of the essay: page 89. The complete essay includes pages 89-106. To read the complete essay, click on the link to the PDF version:

"Owls" from A Field Guide to North American Haiku
(complete PDF version)