Haiku as World Literature

BUCSA Asian Cultural Heritage Series Part I : The Art of Letters

Haiku as World Literature

A Celebration of the 150th Birthday of Haiku Poet Masaoka Shiki

October 12 & 13, 2017


Haiku is perhaps the best travelled of all world literary genres. Since the seventeenth century, when Matsuo Bashō wrote his masterpiece, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, haiku poets have embarked on countless figural and literal journeys, and they have taken the genre with them. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, dense social networks of haiku poets crisscrossed the whole of Japan, and by the early twentieth century, haiku in its modern form had spread across the globe through the work of poets including Ezra Pound, Rabindrath Tagore, Frederico Garcia Lorca, and Yu Ping Bo. Today millions of people write haiku in Japanese and dozens of other languages.

This symposium marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of the haiku poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Despite spending the last seven years of his short life immobilized by tuberculosis, Shiki contributed more than any other poet to the genre’s emergence as a globe-trotting literary form. Scholars and poets working on haiku in Japanese, English, Persian, Chinese, and Spanish will share their work on Shiki and on the poetics of haiku in its global dimensions. We will also celebrate the recent digitization on the “Open BU” archive of 145 back issues of the Shiki kaishi: the journal of the Matsuyama Shiki Society, a treasure trove of original research on Shiki and his circle written by the Society’s members.

Because the best way to appreciate haiku is to write one yourself, we reconvened on Friday, October 13 for a Haiku Circle, led by Nanae Tamura of the Matsuyama Shiki Society. We met at the Pardee School 121 Bay State Road, from 11:00-1:00.

For a description of how the haiku-circle works, including some useful notes and resources on how to write haiku, see here.

Haiku Poster

The Symposium took place on October 12, 2017 on the Boston University Campus, at

Barristers Hall / Sumner M. Redstone Building / 765 Commonwealth Avenue / Boston MA 02215



Breakfast Reception

8:45-9:00 Welcome:
Catherine Yeh, Director of the BU Center for the Study of Asia
Keith Vincent, Chair WLL

9:00-9:30 KEYNOTE: Janine Beichman (Professor Emerita, Daitō Bunka University)

(scroll down for panel paper abstracts and speaker bios)

9:30-11:00 Masaoka Shiki and the Birth of the Modern Haiku

Discussant: Yoon Sun Yang (Boston University, WLL Korean)

Nanae Tamura (Matsuyama Shiki Society)
On the 150th anniversary of their Birth: Shiki, Sōseki, Kyokudō & Matsuyama”

Robert Tuck (University of Montana)
“Haiku Gets Political: Shiki, Nippon, and Meiji ‘Newspaper Literature’”

Reiko Abe Auestad (University of Oslo)
“Abe Yoshishige on ‘Masaoka Shiki as a Person’”

11:00-12:30 Shiki’s Poetics

Discussant: Anna Elliot (Boston University, WLL Japanese)

Rebekah Machemer (Boston University WLL Alumna)
“Shiki’s Haiku in a Comic Panel: Exercises in Composition and Contextualization”

Lorenzo Marinucci (Sapenzia University of Rome)
“Shiki’s Bashō: Malady and Modernity of a Poetic Meeting”

J . Keith Vincent (Boston University, WLL)
“Better than Sex? Shiki’s Food Haiku”

12:30-1:30 Break for Lunch

1:30-3:00 Haiku Before and After Shiki

Discussant: Peter Schwartz (Boston University, WLL German)

Cheryl Crowley (Emory University)
“Does Good Haiku have a Gender? Tagami Kikusha (1753-1826) and the Mino School”

Sarah Frederick (Boston University, WLL)
“Mountains and Rivers on her Desk: Novelist Yoshiya Nobuko’s Haiku Diary (1944-1973)”

Anita Patterson (Boston University, English)
“‘Projections in the Haiku Manner’: Richard Wright and Transpacific Modernism”

3:00-3:30 Coffee Break

3:30-5:00 Haiku in the World:

Discussant: Wiebke Denecke (Boston University, WLL East Asian Literature)

Faryaneh Fadaeiresketi (Heidelberg University)
“Haiku in Iran and the ‘Haiku Effect’ in Contemporary Persian Poetry”

Christopher Maurer (Boston University, Romance Studies)
“‘This Lyrical Box of Chocolates’: Lorca Discovers Haiku”

Catherine Yeh (Boston University, WLL)
“Japanese Haiku and the Formation of Chinese Short Poetry”

PAPER ABSTRACTS AND SPEAKER BIOS (in alphabetical order)

With thanks for the generosity of the following sponsors:

The Boston University Center for the Humanities, Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, National Endowment for the Humanities Professorship, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University, BU Department of World Languages & Literatures, BU Department of English, BU Department of Romance Studies, BU Creative Writing Program