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Frogpond 45.3 • 2022

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - Coyote

Essay 2 - Haunted Haiku



Book Reviews

Haiku Society of America


Haunted Haiku

by Bonnie Stepenoff

Haunted Haiku
(complete PDF version)

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

“I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized.”

~ Henry D. Thoreau, Walden

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”

~ Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

While grounding their work in nature, the seasons, and sensory experience,1 haiku writers have occasionally ventured into areas that some readers might consider paranormal. In this essay, I will focus on a selection of haiku that stretch the limits of the senses, exploring non-material connections between the present and the past, humans and other living things, the earth and the universe. With heartfelt respect, I call them “haunted haiku.”

In the late seventeenth century, Matsuo Basho visited many temples and historic sites, keeping journals of his travels. The following haiku has been widely quoted:

summer grasses . . .
traces of dreams
of ancient warriors

On a warm day, in an open field, the poet envisions a long-ago battle. In an invisible but somehow perceptible way, this historic event has left a mark on the landscape. The soldiers who fought there were young men, filled with dreams, and Basho expresses a sympathetic connection with these long-dead men—their youth, their struggles, and their hopes.

[feature continues for several more pages] . . .

Stepenhoff, Bonnie. "Haunted Haiku." Frogpond 45.3, Autumn 2022, 108-115.

This excerpt inclues the first page of the feature: page 108. The complete feature includes pages 108-115. To read the complete feature, click on the link to the PDF version:

Haunted Haiku
(complete PDF version)