Collins, former United States Poet Laureate, has been a longtime haiku writer and promoter. The book was edited by Lee Gurga, editor of Modern Haiku Press, who published it.
I have heard him say that he likes the "little box" that the haiku form puts you into because it gives some direction.
Look/listen to his poem "Japan" (text & audio of Billy reading it) where he talks about how one haiku can weigh on the mind.
At readings, he sometimes points out that we pass the 17 syllable structure in other places: Mother Hubbard, the opening lines of The Beatles' "Let it Be", and this example of two college students he overheard talking:
When he found out he
was like oh my god and I
was like oh my god
I'm also a practitioner of the haiku form and I enjoy the little box a lot more than some of the bigger poetic boxes. Still, I know that haiku gets pretty shabby treatment in the U.S.
I really enjoy Collins' poetry, and I know that printing isn't cheap - but - doesn't $20 dollars for a 36 page book seem a bit much?
We'll see. It'll probably be the "best-selling haiku book of 2006" - which may not be a tough race most years.
Here are two from the collection-
alone at a sushi bar—
just me and this eel.
Awake in the dark—
so that is how rain sounds
on a magnolia.
Billy Collins will be reading at Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ) on November 8, 2006.