The first English sampling of the work of a Japanese avant-garde poet who stood for cultural tolerance in a repressive, imperialistic age


In the deepening twilight before World War II, Oguma Hideo cried out against the darkness that was enveloping men’s souls. He died in 1940 at the age of 39, but during his brief lifetime he published some of the most politically powerful poems ever written in Japan. Oguma’s best work displays an empathic vision and breadth of human concern unparalleled in Japanese poetry. He writes from the point of view of Chinese soldiers massacred by the Japanese forces, Ainu hunters trying to preserve their ethnic identity, and Korean grandmothers struggling in vain to preserve Korean culture under Japanese occupation. And, quite unusually for Japanese poets, who have tended to favor the shorter waka and haiku forms, Oguma excels at long poems with an epic-like quality.

David G. Goodman is Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is best known as a scholar and translator of modern Japanese drama and is the editor-translator of many books in Englis

“A poet whose political engagement and literary excellence easily bear comparison to those of such internationally known poets as Federico Garcia Lorca, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Osip Mandelstam.”
Journal of Japanese Studies

- Journal of Japanese Studies

“Powerfully humane writing that . . . also serves to reveal the significance of Japan’s demographic diversity in what is often thought of as a homogenous country.”
Education about Asia

- Education about Asia

“Oguma’s poems are like brilliant points of light in a dark valley—beautiful, intense, unwavering.”
—John W. Dower

- John W. Dower

“Strongly evocative and trenchant poetry.”
—J. Thomas Rimer

- J. Thomas Rimer