(London: Routledge, 2017)
This book aims to explore precisely how modern Japanese poetry has remained central to public life in both Japan and its former colony of Taiwan. Though classical Japanese poetry has captivated the imagination of Asian studies scholars, little research has been conducted to explore its role in public life as a discourse influential in defining both the modern Japanese empire and contemporary postcolonial negotiations of identity. This book shows how highly visible poetry in regular newspaper columns and blogs have in various historical situations in Japan and Taiwan contested as well as promoted diverse colonial imaginaries. This poetry reflects both contemporary life and traditional poetics with few counterpoints in Western media. Methodologically, this book offers a defense of the public influence of poetry, each chapter enlisting a wide range of social and media theorists from Japan, Europe, and North America to explore specific historical moments in an original recasting of intertextuality as a vital feature of active inter-evental material engagements. In this book, rather than recite a standard survey of literary movements and key poets, the approach taken is to examine uses of poetry shown not only to support colonialism and imperialism, emerging objectionable forms of exploitation as well as the destruction of ecologies (including old-growth forests in Taiwan and the Fukushima Disaster), but also to present a medium of resistance, a minor literature for registering protest, forming transnational affiliations, and promoting grass-roots democracy. The book is based on years of research and fieldwork partially in conjunction with the production of a documentary film, Horizons of the Rising Sun: Postcolonial Nostalgia and Politics in the Taiwan Tanka Association Today.
Dean Anthony Brink, Associate Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, National Chiao Tung University.