William J. Higginson

William J. Higginson
Born December 17, 1938
New York City
Died October 11, 2008
Summit, New Jersey
Nationality American
Known for Poetry
(haiku and renku)
Notable work The Haiku Handbook, The Haiku Seasons, Haiku World

William J. Higginson (December 17, 1938 – October 11, 2008) was an American poet, translator and author most notable for his work with haiku and renku, born in New York City. He was one of the charter members of the Haiku Society of America,[1] and was present at its formation meeting in 1968.[2]


Higginson attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then joined the United States Air Force, and was sent by them to study Japanese at Yale University, where his interest in haiku began.


He served for two years at Misawa Air Base in Japan in the early 1960s. Upon return to the US he completed his undergraduate studies, obtaining a BA in English at Southern Connecticut State College in 1969.[3] He edited Haiku Magazine from 1971 to 1976, and ran the literary From Here Press, which published titles by several well-known authors, including Allen Ginsberg, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, and Ruth Stone.


Higginson's experience in Japan led him to conclude 'the 17 sound structure of Japanese haiku did not translate into 17 syllables in English 'and in his translations therefrom stressed more upon 'the order of images, the grammar between them(or lack thereof) and the psychological effect of the poems'.[4] Higginson's aim was to 'bring haiku. full bore into the heat of our own time and place' [5] and make it 'a contemporary living art' whilst still remembering that 'in Japan they talk of "composing "Haiku rather than "writing them".[6]

The primary purpose of reading and writing haiku, Higginson thought, 'was in sharing moments of our lives that have moved us, pieces of experience that we offer or share as gifts'.[7]

Major works

His three major works, The Haiku Handbook (1985), Haiku World (1996), and The Haiku Seasons (1996), all continue to sell well with internet booksellers, while The Haiku Handbook is one of the most widely read English-language haiku books.[1]


Grants, awards, and other recognitions

The clock
chimes, chimes and stops,
but the river . . .[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Swede, George. William J. Higginson, 1938-2008 in Simply Haiku, Winter 2008
  2. See the Haiku Society of America's 1994 book, A Haiku Path for a detailed history of the society.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Biographical Notes on Renku Home
  4. Higginson William J., ' Amazon.com Talk ', 2000
  5. Higginson, William J , 'Ten years of Collected Haiku vol 1, From Here Press 1987
  6. Welch, Michael Dylan 'The Perfect Rose:The lasting Legacy of William Higginson' Haiku Foundation Journal Juxtavol1.1 May 2015
  7. Higginson William J. Introduction ' Haiku Handbook' McGraw Hill 1985
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