As part of my 2015 International Poetry Cantos celebration, April (which is also National Poetry Month, and so quite crowded) is also my opportunity to celebrate Japanese poetry.
I’ll be attending the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival, Saturday April 25, which is sponsored by “Cupertino Toyokawa” — the Sister City relationship between Toyokawa, Japan and Cupertino, established in 1978. Come by and chat, and if you’ve got Japanese poetry to share, please please please bring it by booth 15.
I can’t begin to link here all the splendor and history that is the poetry of Japan. Ancient and strong, the tradition is powerful and delicate at the same time. Here are a couple of links, however, to get you started.
Wikipedia does a good job of getting us started.
Here are some biographies (in English) of famous historical Japanese (in America) poets:
- Matsuo Basho (1644–1694) here and here.
- iza saraba / yukimi ni korobu / tokoromade
- Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1828) here and here. Translated by Robert Hass here and here.
- Yosa Buson (1716-1784) translated by Matthew Rohrer here. And by Edith Shiffert here (below).
The light of a candle
is transferred to another candle—
Read more about Japanese forms at these links:
- Haiku here and here and here is a lesson plan from poets.org.
- Haiku and senryu together and apart here.
- Tanka here.
Michael Dylan Welch (Japanese poetry aficionado and current PL of Redmond Washington) deserves his own shout out. Learn all about Japanese poetry at his website, Graceguts. This tanka is by MDW.
And, in case you are beginning to wonder if Japanese poetry ended with the death of Issa in the 19th century, or was only written by men, these links provides a wonderful orientation to modern Japanese poetry and poetry by Japanese women.
- Poetry Kanto — Japan’s longest-running bilingual poetry journal. Really.
- Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Japanese Poetry Word, Image, Film & Translation.
- Modern Japanese Poetry (blog)
- Festival of Contemporary Japanese Women Poets
- Japanese Women Poets (book)
- A wonderful blog “A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry” I highly recommend
- Postwar Japanese Poetry (book)
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