Adam L. Kern

Adam L. Kern first lived in Japan as a high-school exchange student. Since then he has gone back for stints as an intern with a manga publisher, a graduate researcher, a staff reporter for a metropolitan Japanese newspaper, a visiting scholar, and a visiting professor. Having earned a PhD in Japanese literature from Harvard, Kern has been on the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, and at Harvard. Kern now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is a professor of Japanese literature and visual culture. His writings include Manga from the Floating World: Comicbook Culture and the Kibyōshi of Edo Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006) and The Penguin Book of Haiku (London: Penguin Classics, 2018). The following five poems are representative translations from the latter book.

                gaze I shall!
                ’til the very blossoms become
                a pain in the neck!


                                                                                                scent of plum
                                                                                                in a flash of rising sun!
                                                                                                the mountain path


                bottomless pail
                thrashed along by a field-threshing
                late-autumn gale


                                                                                                truly believing
                                                                                                there’s always a tomorrow
                                                                                                we all rest in peace


                laughing loudly
                that the loneliness
                might be forgotten