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José Juan Tablada

José Juan Tablada (April 3, 1871-August 2, 1945) was a famous Mexican poet, diplomat, and art critic. After traveling in Japan in 1900, he began writing and translating haiku. He is known for introducing the poetic form into the Spanish language.

Short Biography

Tablada studied at the Colegio Militar (a military college) of Castillo de Chapultepec and later the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria (National Preparatory School) where he learned painting.

At age 19, he began working for magazines and chronicles writing poetry and articles. His first book of poetry was published as an anthology in 1899.

In 1918, President Venustiano Carranza appointed him Secretary of Exterior Relations. Thus, he began giving lectures and doing cultural work in Caracas. In 1920, he gave up diplomatic work and moved to Quito. After a brief stay in Mexico City, he opened the Librería de los Latinos (Library of Latinos) in New York.

He returned to Mexico in 1935 and lived in Cuernavaca. In 1941, he became a full member of teh Mexican Academy of Language. In 1945, he returned to New York and became vice-consul. He died the same year.

Haiku by José Juan Tablada

  • A white peacock
  • opens its crystalline fan —
  • Triumphant!
  • Distinct melodies;
  • the musical aviary
  • a Tower of Babel
  • Who knows more
  • about the frog by the well
  • the sea and the sky
  • you or I?
  • In a sea of emerald
  • Ship still
  • With your name for anchor.

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