Does good haiku have a gender? Tagami Kikusha (1753-1826) and the Mino School
This is a video of a talk by Cheryl Crowley (Emory University) for the "Haiku as World Literature: A Celebration of the 150th Birthday of Haiku Poet Masaoka Shiki", which took place on October 12 & 13, 2017 at Barristers Hall, Boston University. Recorded on October 12, 2017 by the Geddes Language Center.
In contemporary Japan, membership in haiku groups is overwhelmingly female. However, in the early part of the Edo period (1603-1868), only 2-5% of poets writing haikai (the premodern name for haiku) were women. One of the most prominent of these early female haikai poets was Tagami Kikusha, whose life of incessant travel was inspired by that of Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694). Kikusha was a member of the Minô School of haikai, whose founder, Kagami Shikô, came to be called the "Haikai Demon" to contrast him from Bashô, the "Haikai Saint." The style that Shikô promoted was simple, straightforward, and appealed to provincials, whose ranks at the turn of the 18th into the 19th century increasingly included women. Minô School verse was exactly the kind that Masaoka Shiki deplored as "tsukinami" (hackneyed). In my paper, I will consider the hokku of Kikusha as exemplifying the Minô School style. Does it fall under that category of tsukinami haiku, and if so, can this be attributed to its author's gender, or her allegiance to a populist school of haikai?