Waka, Haiku, and Tanka: Japanese Aesthetics through Poetry


This popular course explores Japanese literature in the early form of poetry born of kokoro, the synthesis of heart and intellect. This literary tradition, from Waka through its evolution into Haiku, becoming Tanka in the early modern period--is still vibrantly alive in contemporary Japan.  We will examine a number of poets, both ancient and modern, focusing attention on aesthetic values, religious roots, and the idea of “beauty” found in these poetic works.  Finally, we will try our hands at writing our own haiku and tanka. No knowledge of Japanese language and culture is required.  All reading material, including the poems to be discussed, will be emailed to you before each meeting. 

Instructor: Yoshiko Y. Samuel

Three Tuesdays: October 9, 16, 23
4:30 pm-6:00 pm

Wasch Center, Butterfield Room

Yoshiko Y. Samuel

YOSHIKO YOKOCHI SAMUEL is professor of Asian Languages and Literature, emerita, at Wesleyan.  Originally, from Japan, she grew up with waka/tank and haiku and now translates them into English and writes her own poetry also in English.  She is particularly interested in recent works by little known poets marginalized in Japan for various reasons. She is delighted to be able to share with you the minimalist poetry and its aesthetic values.  She also looks forward to trying our hands at creating, and sharing, our own poems.