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I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda
I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda
I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda
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I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda

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Momoko Kuroda (b. 1938) is a remarkable haiku spirit and a powerfully independent Japanese woman. The one hundred poems here—her first collection in English—show her evolution as a poet, her acute lyricism, and her engagement as a writer in issues central to modern Japan: postwar identity, nuclear politics, and Fukushima. Abigail Friedman's introduction and textual commentaries provide important background and superb insight into poetic themes and craft.

I wait for fireflies / I wait as if for someone / who will never return

Momoko Kuroda is one of Japan's most well-known haiku poets.

Abigail Friedman lives near Washington, DC, and is author of The Haiku Apprentice.

Release dateSep 29, 2014
I Wait for the Moon: 100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda
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    I Wait for the Moon - Momoko Kuroda

    The poet standing beside a stone carving of her haiku, at the ceremony for the unveiling of the stone, July 2013, Kikusui0ji temple, Saitama Prefecture. The haiku, 花満ちてゆく鈴の音の湧くやうに, blossoms overflowing as the sound of ringing bells, is from her fifth collection, Nikkō Gekkō.

    I Wait for the Moon

    100 Haiku of Momoko Kuroda

    Translated with commentary by Abigail Friedman

    Stone Bridge Press • Berkeley, California

    Published by

    Stone Bridge Press

    P. O. Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707

    TEL 510-524-8732 • sbp@stonebridge.com • www.stonebridge.com

    English text and translation ©2014 Abigail Friedman.

    Haiku in Japanese © Momoko Kuroda. Used by permission.

    Book design and layout by Linda Ronan.

    All rights reserved.

    No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.

    Printed in the United States of America.

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1            2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014


    Kuroda, Momoko, 1938– author.

    [Poems. Selections. English]

    I wait for the moon : 100 haiku of Momoko Kuroda / Momoko Kuroda.

        pages cm

    p-isbn 978-1-61172-016-7 (paperback)

    e-isbn: 978-1-61172-908-5 (e-book)

    1. Haiku--Translations into English. I. Title.

    PL855.U6895A2 2014



    For Eric,

    the love of my life




    Notes on the Text

       IA Big John Lennon

      IIDeep Beneath the Sea

     IIIWhite Leek

     IVDistant Mountain Cherry

      VBurning Leaves

     VIThe Path to Kumano

    VIIRiver of Fireflies


    Selected Bibliography

    Kuroda Momoko: Life and Chronology


    Kuroda Momoko is one of the most active and highly regarded haiku poets in Japan today. When I first met her over a decade ago, I was just beginning my haiku journey and knew nothing of her stature. In an earlier book, The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan, I relate my chance encounter with Ōiwa Kōhei, a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor and amateur haiku poet who invited me to join his haiku group that met in Numazu, at the foot of Mt. Fuji. At the time, I was living in Japan as an American diplomat and had only just become interested in haiku. Mr. Ōiwa must have mentioned that Momoko led the group, but as I had never heard her name that piece of information escaped me. It was not until I attended the Numazu haiku group some weeks later and met Momoko in person that I began to sense what a remarkable woman she is. Even then, I was struck above all by her appearance—her exotic monpe-style clothing, the square cut of her bangs, and her confident smile.

    Still ignorant of the extent of her renown in the haiku world, I wrote to her some time later asking if she might give me private haiku lessons. In her book Tegami Saijiki (Tokyo: Hakusuisha, 2012), Momoko describes receiving my letter. I had neglected to use the standard honorific -san or -sama after her name on the envelope, a major faux pas in Japan. Momoko recalls that the envelope gave her the feeling she was receiving a summons from the tax authorities. Yet she read on and, despite my poor form and clumsy Japanese script, she sensed my sincere yearning to learn more about haiku. She agreed to meet, and this was the beginning of our relationship and what over the years has become our friendship.

    Momoko and I met on and off for two years, teacher and student, until I left Japan in the summer of 2003. I fully expected that I would turn the page on haiku and that writing haiku would become one of the many activities that I once did, or that I used to enjoy. But I was wrong. Upon my return to the United States, I plunged into my work as a diplomat but would find haiku rising within me at unexpected times. I would notice the small splashes my shoes made as I walked out of the office into the early evening drizzle. I would look out the kitchen window into our backyard and notice the way the bamboo bent under the weight of the snow. Watching my teenage daughter dressed in black walking down the street on her way to school, I would think of the beauty of Bashō’s lone crow perched on a branch. Grabbing a scrap of paper, I would turn these impressions into haiku.

    Meanwhile, Momoko continued to take an interest in my development as a haiku poet, sending me journals and books, some her own and some written by others whom she respected. I joined haiku organizations in the United States and Canada, contributed haiku to a number of collections, won some awards, and started the first bilingual French/English haiku group in Quebec City. The Haiku Apprentice came out in 2006 and was translated into Japanese in 2010. The following year, unprompted, I decided the time had come for me to translate Momoko’s haiku into English.

    My first challenge in presenting Momoko’s haiku was to settle on which of her haiku to translate from the over three thousand in her six haiku collections and the several thousand more that are uncollected. I consulted with Momoko who, as in every aspect of this book, was encouraging but who also insisted on placing me in the lead. You choose, she said. Even more than the satisfaction of seeing her haiku translated into English, I sensed that Momoko was drawn to this project by her curiosity as to which haiku spoke to me as a non-Japanese. She approached my efforts somewhat the way she approaches a haiku group. Momoko once told me that while it is pleasurable to write, polish, and re-read one’s haiku alone, there is another satisfaction to be gained in joining a haiku group and in sharing our haiku with others. "Think about what a haiku represents. This small chalice of only seventeen sounds is, in truth, an expression of the

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