Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth: 15th Century Zen Master

Overview


An eccentric classic of Zen poetry

When Zen master Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) was appointed headmaster of the great temple at Kyoto, he lasted nine days before denouncing the rampant hypocrisy he saw among the monks there. He in turn invited them to look for him in the sake parlors of the Pleasure Quarters. A Zen monk-poet-calligrapher-musician, he dared to write about the joys of erotic love, along with more traditional Zen themes. He was an eccentric and genius who dared to defy...

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Ikkyu: Crow With No Mouth: 15th Century Zen Master

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Overview


An eccentric classic of Zen poetry

When Zen master Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) was appointed headmaster of the great temple at Kyoto, he lasted nine days before denouncing the rampant hypocrisy he saw among the monks there. He in turn invited them to look for him in the sake parlors of the Pleasure Quarters. A Zen monk-poet-calligrapher-musician, he dared to write about the joys of erotic love, along with more traditional Zen themes. He was an eccentric and genius who dared to defy authority and despised corruption. Although he lived during times plagued by war, famine, rioting, and religious upheaval, his writing and music prevailed, influencing Japanese culture to this day.

"Ikkyu scandalized the Zen community of his day and is likely to scandalize some readers even now—his short poems are simultaneously bawdy, abrupt, vulgar, and reverential... It is impossible not to love the velocity and variety of his verse."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Stephen Berg is exactly the right poet to have translated these poems."—Hayden Carruth, The Hudson Review

"A deeply sensual man, Ikkyu had little patience for the fussiness of monastic life and ritual... What is especially appealing about Ikkyu's poetry is the way his sensuality infuses his Zen sensibility."—American Book Review

Stephen Berg is the founder of American Poetry Review.

Also available by Stephen Berg
Steel Cricket
PB $16.00, 1-55659-075-X • CUSA
New & Selected Poems
PB $12.00, 1-55659-043-1 • CUSA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556591525
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 711,963
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Stephen Berg, founding editor of American Poetry Review, is the author of two dozen books of poetry and translations. He is a professor of English at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
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