The Awakened One: Buddha-Themed Haiku

The Awakened One: Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World is a new anthology edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah and Gabriel Rosenstock. The book is published by Poetry Chaikhana.

This lovely collection pairs poems by the Japanese haiku masters with poems by contemporary writers from around the world.

Each section of the book is introduced with words attributed to Buddha, while the selected haiku provide fresh insights about the objects and events around us. These haiku awakenings often share much with Buddhist insights. As the editors note:

A haiku is an awakening and the Buddha is The Awakened One who wishes all of us to come to an awakening, sooner or later.

Each page presents one haiku by a Japanese haijin which has been paired by the editors with one haiku by a current poet. The Japanese poets span the period from the 13th century to the 20th century and include famous Japanese haiku masters as well as lesser known writers. The contemporary poets are drawn from diverse backgrounds and include writers from every continent on Earth. Here are some examples:

crickets cry no more . . .
now one can hear
dewdrops falling

Rogetsu (1873-1928)

the stone Buddha
as if it does not exist
autumn fog

ere Buddha kan
bi eni pe ko si’mbe
oye erun

Anthony Itopa Obaro


how beautifully
the cow has slimmed down
in the summer fields

Nozawa Bonchō (1640-1714)

he fills it with the lord’s
holy name

Christina Chin


garden gate
slamming and thwacking  ̶
autumn wind

Fukuda Haritsu (1865-1944)

zen garden
the wind wanders
around Buddha

Rosa Clement


heat in waves  ̶
in the stones
angry reverberations

Katō Kyōtai (1732-1792)

this beach of pebbles
after the wave
my life rearranged

Gregory Piko

The Awakened One is a collection of great breadth, with the Japanese poems spanning six centuries and the contemporary poems reflecting life in countries around the world. By pairing one haiku with another, it is also a collection which reminds us how the essence of human experience is, in large part, constant across borders and through time.

The Awakened One: Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World is available from Poetry Chaikhana and from online sellers such as Amazon.