101 MODERN JAPANESE POEMS, compiled by Makoto Ooka, translated by Paul McCarthy, edited by Janine Beichman. Thames River Press, 2012, 144 pp., $45.00 (hardcover)

When a new anthology of American poetry appears — The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove is just one of the recent examples — voices are inevitably raised over the editor's selections and rejections, and sometimes over whether a new anthology of poetry from a period already well-surveyed is necessary at all. These arguments inspire some fiery polemics, and one can see why. Such questions — whether poet A is deserving of space when poet B gets none; whether the collection as a whole tells a story about the work surveyed that is compelling and new — are eminently worth debating, and one imagines that such discussions took place when Makoto Ooka edited the Japanese version of this anthology in the late 1990s.

These questions, though, seem largely irrelevant to the English version that came out last year. Despite the admirable and sustained efforts of the journal Poetry Kanto, and the tireless work of translators such as Jeffrey Angles, Hiroaki Sato and, with this collection, Paul McCarthy, modern Japanese poetry remains little known outside the archipelago. There's no question, therefore, that this book is necessary, and for readers who would be hard-pressed to name a Japanese poet other than Matsuo Basho, the question of whether poet A is more worthy than poet B won't be an issue.