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 2019), The Penguin Book of Haiku (London: Penguin Classics, 2018), and the coedited translation volume, A Kamigata Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Metropolitan Centers, 1600–1750 (University of Hawai‘i Press, forthcoming 2020). The following five poems are representative translations from the Penguin Classics 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