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Of the many cultural exports from Japan, the haiku has been one of the most successful, if recognizability is anything to go by.

The name of the diminutive poetic form is widely familiar to both children and adults overseas, and regularly pops up in fiction, essays and media of every kind. How deeply it is understood is more questionable, but its success has been charmed and effortless, it seems. Of all the guides to writing and composing haiku, “The Haiku Handbook” by Higginson and his wife Penny Harter, recently reissued in a handsome new edition to mark the 25th anniversary of its first publication, is undoubtedly the best.

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