Is classical Japanese poetry something to be enjoyed in private, an object of study for scholars, or an item of public life teeming with hints about how to understand and deal with our past and our future? In Japanese Poetry and its Publics: From Colonial Taiwan to Fukushima
(Routledge, 2018), Dean Anthony Brink
, Associate Professor at the National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, argues that certain forms of Japanese classical poetry (especially tanka
) have remained central to public life in both Japan and its former colony of Taiwan. Brink analyzes poems published in regular newspaper columns and various blogs, examining the way in which they reflect specific historical moments and exploring how they can be used for (and in) politics. Brink’s conclusion is that poetry has an ambivalent function, as it can serve on the one hand to justify and support colonialism and imperialism, and on the other hand to present a medium of resistance and protest.
Roman Paşca is Assistant Professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Letters, Department of Japanese Philosophy