Active in the 13th century, poet Matsuo Basho has been a cornerstone of literature globally since the late 19th century when the word haiku was used to cover traditional “haikai” and “hokku” (more about which further down). Largely due to 19th-century Realism, Western onlookers and practitioners have made much of direct personal experience in haiku; DT Suzuki, Alan Watts and the Beat poets in turn exaggerated the influence of Zen on haiku, lauding their depth of truth and presence. Haiku has since become the world’s most prevalent poetic form, with Basho the standard bearer.   

Over several decades, Shirley Geok-lin Lim has cemented her position as one of the Chinese diaspora’s foremost anglophone poets. Originally from Malacca, she has lived abroad since 1969, mostly in California, where she taught in the English department at the University of California in Santa Barbara University. In this, her 11th poetry collection, among her best to date, Lim has shaken off a long preoccupation with place and displacement to write striking poems on the natural world.