How to Read a Japanese Poem

Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

How to Read a Japanese Poem

Pub Date: June 2019

ISBN: 9780231186834

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: June 2019

ISBN: 9780231186827

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: June 2019

ISBN: 9780231546850

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

How to Read a Japanese Poem

Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

How to Read a Japanese Poem offers a comprehensive approach to making sense of traditional Japanese poetry of all genres and periods. Steven D. Carter explains to Anglophone students the methods of composition and literary interpretation used by Japanese poets, scholars, and critics from ancient times to the present, and adds commentary that will assist the modern reader.

How to Read a Japanese Poem presents readings of poems by major figures such as Saigyō and Bashō as well as lesser known poets, with nearly two hundred examples that encompass all genres of Japanese poetry. The book gives attention to well-known forms such as haikai or haiku, as well as ancient songs, comic poems, and linked verse. Each chapter provides examples of a genre in chronological order, followed by notes about authorship and other contextual details, including the time of composition, physical setting, and social occasion. The commentaries focus on a central feature of Japanese poetic discourse: that poems are often occasional, written in specific situations, and are best read in light of their milieu. Carter elucidates key concepts useful in examining Japanese poetics as well as the technical vocabulary of Japanese poetic discourse, familiarizing students with critical terms and concepts. An appendix offers succinct definitions of technical terms and essays on aesthetic ideals and devices.
This book is a masterful tour of Japanese poetry from the earliest times to the late nineteenth century. The range of knowledge is astonishing, and there are very few people—perhaps no one—who could attempt this kind of book except for the author. Torquil Duthie, University of California, Los Angeles
In this thorough and wide-ranging book, Carter explores what to look for and what’s not obvious in each of Japan’s distinct genres of poetry. How to Read a Japanese Poem offers detailed analyses of specific poems in each era, exploring the textual and cultural context, social occasion, and the location and timing of composition. This book takes readers below the surface to understand the nuances of context. Michael Dylan Welch, founder and president, Tanka Society of America
Introduction
1. Ancient Song and Poetry
2. Long Poems and Short Poems
3. Popular Songs
4. Linked Verse
5. Unorthodox Poems
6. Comic Poems
7. Poems in Chinese
Appendix 1: Technical Terms
Appendix 2: Aesthetic Ideals and Devices
Notes
Sources of Japanese Texts
Selected Bibliography
Index of Japanese Names, Titles, and Terms

About the Author

Steven D. Carter is Yamato Ichihashi Chair in Japanese History and Civilization, emeritus, at Stanford University. His Columbia University Press books include Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Bashō (2011) and The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century (2014).