Kiyoko Tokutomi. Kiyoko's Sky: The Haiku of
Kiyoko Tokutomi © Nov. 2002. Perfect Bound, (5.5"
X 8.5") 128 pages.
Brooks Books is pleased to offer another dual language editions of haiku by the co-founder of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, Kiyoko Tokutomi.
Robert Hass, United States Poet Laureate (1995-1997)
One needs but take these verses to heart, to know the true spirit of haiku.
James W. Hacket
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Kiyoko Tokutomi is one of those rare haiku poets who follow yuki teikei (the traditional Japanese form with a seasonal element or kigo) both in English and Japanese. To understand the background of her haiku, we should keep in mind that she lives in Ben Lomond, California, on the West Coast of the United States. I have heard that spring in California comes early, and by mid-February, many people have started wearing short-sleeved shirts.
Cherry blossoms bloom in full in March or April, the same time as
in Japan. Around Ben Lomond communities even hold Cherry Blossom Festivals. The
summer in northern California is relatively cool along the coast. In
San Francisco, it seems that one needs an overcoat on a summer evening.
Though there is no lingering heat like in Japan, there are heat waves,
referred to as Indian summer, which come in September and October.
Winter is the rainy season, and especially around New Year, it rains
often. It is then that you can see a rainbow.
Therefore, rainy season and rainbow would be winter kigothere.I have just described the physical and cultural landscape in which Kiyoko composes her haiku.
The key phrase, between my fingers, leaves us with the feeling that this is a sensitive woman.
The water of mid-winter is clear. Human beings become tense
physically and emotionally in the cold air. It makes one see
things better. We can picture the crisp, cold landscape.
Even in the beginning of the winter, the water has to be cold to make ones fingers ache.
About the Author
Kiyoko Tokutomi (December 28, 1928December 25, 2002)
In the life of Kiyoko Tokutomi, as in every life, fortunes and misfortunes
have occurred. Understandingand acceptanceof this fact
are completely manifest in this small poem. We do not wish that children
understood lifes grief, even while we ourselves try not to be
weighed down by anticipation of its sorrows. What joy to watch children
at play and know that they are not yet burdened with too much understanding.
Kiyokos own childhood was on Kyushu Island in southern Japan
where loquats have been cultivated for more than a thousand years;
they are mentioned in ancient poems.
Now that I have spent some time with these translations I more fully
understand the respect that other writers and experts on Japanese
literature have shown her.
These haiku can be nostalgic, but are never merely sentimental. They
demonstrate a mastery of haiku spirit and form gained from a lifetime
of practice. The poems are centered in a deep connection to family
and in the blossoming earth and the sky. Kiyoko Tokutomi celebrates
in these haiku a fiercely quiet, balanced and steady, clear-eyed,
June Hopper Hymas
Patricia J. Machmiller is a haiku writer who studied with Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society in San Jose, California. Patricia attributes her appreciation of haiku to her childhood in Kennebec, South Dakota, which was an instruction in simplicity in which she came to value the ordinary. She served as President of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society from1978 to 1981; she co-edited with June Hopper Hymas Young Leaves: 25th Anniversary Issue of Haiku Journal; she and Jerry Ball write a regular column of haiku commentary, Dojins Corner, for GEPPO. Her own book of haiku, Blush of Winter Moon, is published by Jacaranda Press.
Fay Aoyagi was born in Tokyo, Japan. She immigrated to the U.S. and after 10 years in New York City, she moved to San Francisco in 1995, where she started writing haiku and tanka in English. In 2000, she joined a Japanese haiku group Teni. She supports her haiku life as a freelance interpreter.