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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 7 series.
This collection documents the professional life of poet, translator, and literary historian, William J. Higginson. The bulk of the papers are correspondence and writings. Correspondence consists of letters between Higginson and fellow scholars and poets. The writings include drafts of Higginson's manuscript, The Haiku Handbook, numerous poems, and articles about the history and craft of writing Japanese Poetry. There is also a small amount of photographs, multimedia materials, and ephemera.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William J. Higginson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Lea Osborne, Carrie Hintz, Elena Locascio, Elizabeth Nolte 08/2008.
2009-09-04 File created.
2009-09-15 xml instance created by Lea Osborne.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
William J. Higginson spent over forty years studying traditional Japanese poetry. His interest in this subject led him to publish numerous books and articles on the teaching and writing of Haiku and he became one of the foremost authorities on the collaborative form of poetry writing, renku.
Higginson was born on December 17, 1938 in New York City to parents William J. and Nellie (Roby) Higginson Mackay. He first began studying Japanese at Yale University and discovered haiku at this time. Higginson served in the United States Air Force in the late 1950s, during which he was stationed in Misawa, Japan. He continued studying Japanese poetry throughout his deployment. Some years after his return, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and graduated with honors from Southern Connecticut State University in 1969 with a B.A. in English.
After a short stint teaching, Higginson became a Consultant in Writing and the Teaching of Writing in 1972, a job that he held for the rest of his life. He was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, which as founded in 1968 and served as President in 1976, as well as the editor and publisher of Haiku Magazine. Other publications include three collections of poetry and haiku and numerous essays in anthologies and reference works. His poems, essays, and translations appear in the following periodicals and journals: American Book Review, Center, Footwork, Frogpond, Imprint (Hong Kong), Madrona, Newsweek Japan, Open Magazine, ProFiles, Shearsman (London), Sparrow, Sun, and Telegram (London).
Higginson has published several books in the field, perhaps the most prominent being The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share and Teach Haiku (1985), a book that uses examples, many of which were not previously available, from Japanese and other languages. This was a collaborative effort between Higginson and his wife, poet and author Penny Harter. Unique to the book are teaching tools, such as lesson plans, a reference section, and lists of haiku publishers and magazines. A follow-up book entitled The Haiku Seasons expands on the teaching model and gives a comprehensive history of the form. Higginson also published Wind in the Long Grass, an international anthology of haiku for children.
Higginson was active in several professional organizations, most notably P.E.N. American Center, the Poetry Society of America, the National Writers Union (U.S.), the New Jersey Task Force on Literacy in the Arts, and the Association of New Jersey County Cultural and Historical Agencies.
William J. Higginson died on October 11, 2008 after battling cancer. He is survived by his wife, Penny Harter.