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).
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
Carter’s colleagues and students have long waited to take this journey with him as guide to the formal subtleties and aesthetic principles that make Japanese poetry so rewarding and that he understands and explains so well. This is a most welcome volume. - Edward Kamens, Yale University
From the songs of ancient Japan to haiku on World War II, through snow-flecked pines and into noisy streets, Carter guides us through more than a millennium of Japanese verse. Thanks to his contextual insights and masterful translations, the “clouds clear away” to reveal the beauty, power, wit, and utility of Japanese poetry. - Christina Laffin, University of British Columbia
This fresh collection of poems, most of which have never appeared in translation before, illuminates the core and continuity of Japanese poetry. Carter’s commentary, based on a vast erudition worn as lightly as a feathered robe, opens up each poem, the world and the heart together. This book will enlighten and delight general readers and specialists alike. - Sonja Arntzen, University of Toronto
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