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Haiku: This Other World

Richard Wright discovered haiku through a volume of English translations of the great Japanese masters of the form. Fighting illness, and frequently bedridden, Wright became so excited about the discovery that he began writing his own haiku, in which he attempted to capture, through his sensibility as an African-American, the same Zen discipline and beauty in depicting man's relationship, not to his fellow man as he had in his fiction but to Nature and the natural world.In all, he wrote over 4,000 haiku, from which he chose, before he died, 810 he thought were worthy to be preserved. Rather than a deviation from his self-appointed role as spokesman and agent for black Americans of his time, Richard Wright's haiku, disciplined and steeped in beauty, are a culmination: by seeing Nature and the physical world through the eyes of a black man, he brought to his work a universality that transcended both race and color without ever denying them.
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