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Kenneth Yasuda

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Title: Kenneth Yasuda  
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Kenneth Yasuda

This article is about the Japanese-American scholar. For the Japanese bodybuilder, see Ken Yasuda.

Kenneth Yasuda
Born (1914-06-23)June 23, 1914
Died January 26, 2002(2002-01-26) (aged 87)
Occupation Academic writer
Ethnicity Japanese-American
Education University Of Washington, Tokyo University
Genres Poetry, Poetry Criticism
Notable work(s) The 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.


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]

His 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. His translations apply a 5–7–5 syllable count in English, with the first and third lines end-rhymed.

Yasuda's theory includes the concept of a "haiku moment," which he said is based in a poet's personal experience and provides the motive for writing a haiku. While the rest of his theoretical writing on haiku is not widely discussed, his notion of the haiku moment has resonated with haiku writers in North America, even though the notion is not widely promoted in Japanese haiku. His indirect influence was felt through the Beat writers; Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums appeared in 1958, with one of its main characters, Japhy Ryder (based on Gary Snyder), writing haiku.


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