blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1
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Invisible Remains
Sequence Introduction

I began translating haiku by Kobayashi Issa without the idea of their existing as a sequence, let alone with my own words accompanying them. Haiku are tethered to implications in nature and to places, not to other writing. An image of a firefly, for example, leads us toward warm darkness. That of a full moon takes us into long, comfortable autumn nights.

But after having produced a few English versions, I suddenly felt the immense weight of each translation’s invisible remains. I had added or subtracted certain words for the sake of clarity. The result is that parts of the poems are not Issa’s.

The commentary sections, then, were added as a means of explaining my changes to the original haiku. They provide the reader with a gathering of my surroundings as I sorted the Japanese into English, which I hope provides helpful context and then bows out of the way. My commentaries are inevitably connected to each other in very tangible ways because I live on a small island. So, they are suited for sequence and become a woven place in which the haiku can send roots, having endured the shock of being carried from another language by shaky hands.  end

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