Inscribed Red

Haiku Versions After Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

Eric Hoffman


ISBN 978-1-959556-97-8      156 pages        $18.00


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As celebrated as Akutagawa Ryūnosuke is as a short story writer, his haiku—the first of which was composed in 1906, the same year Akutagawa began to read contemporary Japanese literature—is relatively unknown outside of Japan, and rarely translated. Akutagawa's teikei (fixed-form) haiku, like his fiction, mostly eschews modernism in its embrace of classical forms, and derives as much from literary tradition as from lived experience. If not for their precision, learning, and psychological depth, Akutagawa's haiku share more in common with the haikai of the 17th and 18th century than with 20th century haiku. Frequently they portray a modern consciousness in relationship with an idealized nature that exists more in the Japanese psyche than the landscape that surrounds him.


Included in this volume are over 500 of Akutagawa's haiku in a new translation

Eric Hoffman is the author of several collections of poetry, including This Thin Mean (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019). He is the author of Oppen: A Narrative, a biography of poet George Oppen (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), editor of Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard (McFarland, 2012), co-editor (with Dominick Grace) of Approaching Twin Peaks: Essays on the Original Series (McFarland, 2017), Dave Sim: Conversations (2013), Chester Brown: Conversations (2013), and Seth: Conversations (2015), with Grace and Jason Sacks of Jim Shooter: Conversations (2017), and with Nina Goss of Tearing the World Apart: Bob Dylan and the 21st Century (2017), all published by the University Press of Mississippi.