Kenneth Yasuda

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Kenneth Yasuda
Born(1914-06-23)June 23, 1914
DiedJanuary 26, 2002(2002-01-26) (aged 87)
OccupationAcademic writer
EducationUniversity Of Washington, Tokyo University
GenrePoetry, Poetry Criticism
Notable worksThe Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples

Kenneth Yasuda (June 23, 1914 – January 26, 2002)[1][2] was a Japanese-American scholar and translator.

Life and career[edit]

Yasuda was born on June 23, 1914, in Auburn, California.[3] His poetry studies at the University of Washington were interrupted by World War II, and he was interned at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.[4][5] After the war, he returned to the University of Washington where he received a BA in 1945.[6] Yasuda earned his Doctorate in Japanese Literature from Tokyo University.[6]

Haiku legacy[edit]

Yasada's most well known book is The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples (1957). His other books include A Pepper-pod: Classic Japanese Poems Together with Original Haiku, a collection of haiku and translations in English; Masterworks of the Noh Theater; A Lacquer Box, translation of waka and a translation of Minase Sangin Hyakuin, a 100-verse renga poem led by Sōgi and titled in English as Three Poets at Minase.

Yasuda's 1957 book consists mainly of material from his doctoral dissertation from 1955, and includes both translations from Japanese and original poems of his own in English. These had previously appeared in his book A Pepper-Pod: Classic Japanese Poems together with Original Haiku (Alfred A. Knopf, 1947). In The Japanese Haiku, Yasuda presented some Japanese critical theory about haiku, especially featuring comments by early twentieth-century poets and critics.

Yasuda's translations apply a 5–7–5 syllable count in English, with the first and third lines end-rhymed.(Yasuda observed that although rhyme, as understood in English, does not exist in the original Japanese, in translations thereof into English they should use all the poetic resources of the language).[7]

In the same book, Yasuda contended that 'the underlying aesthetic principles that govern the arts are the same for any form in Japanese or English' and would ensure the possibilities of Haiku in English being as popular as with its Japanese audience.[8]

In Yasuda's haiku theory the intent of the haiku is contained in the concept of a "haiku moment," 'that moment of absolute intensity when the poet's grasp of his intuition is complete so that the image lives its own life', (seventeen syllables corresponding to that 'moment', divided into three lines within 'one breath length' ).[9] This notion of the haiku moment has been defined as 'an aesthetic moment' a timeless feeling of enlightened harmony as a poet's nature and environment are unified[10]'The passing momentary experience that comes alive through the precise perception of the image.'[11]

Yasuda's indirect influence was felt through the Beat writers;[citation needed] Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums appeared in 1958, with one of its main characters, Japhy Ryder (based on Gary Snyder), writing haiku.


  1. ^ Library of Congress, American Library Association. Committee on Resources of American Libraries. National Union Catalog Subcommittee. The National union catalog, pre-1956 imprints: a cumulative author list representing Library of Congress printed cards and titles reported by other American libraries, Volume 360. Mansell, University of Michigan, p200
  2. ^ "Bloomington Council Minutes". Indiana University. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Memorial Resolution: Kenneth Yasuda (June 23, 1914 – January 26, 2002)". Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  4. ^ Chang, Gordon (1999). Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and His Internment Writings, 1942-1945 (Asian America). Stanford University Press. pp. 503–504. ISBN 9780804736534.
  5. ^ "National Archives: Kenchir Yasuda". Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  6. ^ a b Yasuda, Kenneth. The Japanese haiku: its essential nature, history, and possibilities in English, with selected examples. Tuttle, 1957. Inside back cover.
  7. ^ Yasuda, Kenneth 'Rhyme in Haiku' in his 'The Japanese Haiku' Charles Tuttle Co Rutland 1957 ISBN 0804810966
  8. ^ Yasuda's Introduction to his 'The Japanese Haiku ', Charles Tuttle Co, Rutland 1957 ISBN 0804810966
  9. ^ Yasuda, Kenneth ,Introduction 'The Japanese Haiku' Charles Tuttle Co , Rutland 1957
  10. ^ Otsuiji (Seiki Osuga) Otsuiji Hairon-shu(Otsuiji's Collected Essays on Haiku Theory ed. Toyo Yusada, 5th ed. Tokyo, Kaeda Shobo 1947)
  11. ^ Lowenstein Tom ed. 'Classic Haiku-Introduction' Duncan Baird PublishersLondon 2007 ISBN 9781844834860

External links[edit]