Synopses & Reviews
The fascinating and quirky biography of a disheveled poet, skillfully interwoven with his original works.
Zen priest Santoka Taneda (1882-1940) is one of Japan's most beloved modern poets, famous for his "free-verse" haiku, the dominant style today. This book tells the fascinating story of his life, liberally sprinkled with more than 300 of his poems and extracts from his essays and journals--compiled by his best friend and biographer Oyama Sumita and elegantly translated by William Scott Wilson.
Santoka was a literary prodigy, but a notoriously disorganized human being. By his own admission, he was incapable of doing anything other than wandering on his own two feet and writing his own verses. Although Santoka married and had a son, he devoted his life to poetry, studying Zen, drinking sake and wandering the length and breadth of the Japanese countryside on foot.
The poet's life alternated between long periods of solitary retreat and restless travel, influenced by his tragic childhood. When not on the road, he lived in simple grass huts supported by friends and family. Santoka was a lively conversationalist who was often found so drunk he could only make it home with the help of a friendly neighbor or passerby. But above all, throughout his life, he wrote constantly; poetry and essays flowed from him effortlessly.
Santoka's eccentric style of haiku is highly regarded in Japan today for being truly modern and free from formal constraints. His journals and essays are equally thought-provoking--the musings of an unkempt but supremely self-conscious mind on everything from writing to cooking rice and his failure to live a more orderly life.
This translation is by best-selling author William Scott Wilson whose other works include The Book of Five Rings and The Lone Samurai. Wilson provides sensitive renditions of the haiku illustrating Santoka's life as well as an extensive introduction to the influences on Santoka's work from contemporary haiku poets and his Buddhist teachers.
- Biography and poetry of Japan's most beloved modern haiku poet, the Zen Buddhist priest Santoka Taneda
- Interweaves the poet's struggle to live a Zen Buddhist life with his love of haiku and sake drinking
- Will appeal to lovers of literature as well as those interested in mindfulness and Zen Buddhism
- Translator William Scott Wilson is well known in the world of Japanese literature and has a large following
- Wilson has contributed a foreword and an extensive introduction to the book detailing Santoka's influences
- Includes elegant translations of 331 of Santoka's haiku along with excerpts from his journals and the story of his life as told by his best friend and biographer, Oyama Sumita
- Includes a complete translation of Santoka's Diary of the One-Grass Hut covering the last three months of his life