‘Teika: The Life and Works of a Medieval Japanese Poet’: Unpacking ancient poetry wars

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By Iain Maloney

teikaTeika lived from 1162 to 1241, and was a highly influential Japanese poet. Paul S. Atkins’ new study of his work aims to reintroduce him to a non-native audience and to analyze why his verse had such a large impact on the trajectory of Japanese poetics.

Teika was born into the Heian court elite, so poetry was inextricably linked with his biography and social position. Poetry was integral to court life, as skill with the form was necessary for advancement.

Teika championed a new style of poetry, pejoratively termed “Bodhidharma verse” — essentially gibberish — by his contemporaries. The term comes from an insult used to describe Zen Buddhism, which in the 12th century was considered by mainstream Japanese Buddhism to be too esoteric. Read more

Source: The Japan Times


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