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Noted Japanese literary critic and writer Kenkichi Yamamoto’s “The Singing Heart” provides a satisfying introduction to modern Japanese poetry. Grouped into thematic sections ranging from “The World of Love” and “Human Existence” to “Nature,” Yamamoto hoped to provide readers with a window into the “chaotically swirling” world of Japanese poetry.”

Yamamoto introduces each poem and poet with chatty biographical details mixed with astute literary observations and connections, culminating in a lively, entertaining read that is not just for poetry fans. The themes, concerns, issues and daily lives of Japanese during the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-26) and Showa (1926-89) eras come alive with Yamamoto’s explanations.

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