Japan: Ballads of Tokyo Jail

Poetry in Japan is considered too pleasant an art to be left exclusively to poets. Japanese of all backgrounds like to compose spare, highly stylized verses* whose aim is to evoke a moment or a mood, rather than convey a moral or tell a story, as in Western poetry. One of the top features of Tokyo's Mainichi Shimbun (circ. 3,568,000) is its Sunday selection of the ten best haiku and waka culled from some 500 it receives weekly. Last week an amateur poet named Akito Shima achieved the rare distinction of having had his work printed in the paper's...

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