Sumitaku Kenshin

translated from the Japanese by Eric Hoffman


ISBN 978-1-959556-36-7            124 pages             $16.00




Sumitaku Kenshin, a free verse haiku poet, died tragically just before his 26th birthday. He left behind a small yet memorable body of work that consists of 281 haiku. This collection presents the entirety of his haiku in a new translation by noted poet Eric Hoffman.



Shisaku—chō, here translated as Experiment Book, though previously rendered as Prototype Book, Draft Book, Trial Pieces, and Experimental Notebook; shisaku means trial manufacture, experiment, test piece, or prototype, though it can also mean the composition of a poem, and chō is a book, notebook, or album.

Sumitaku Kenshin (住宅顕信, 1961—1987) was born Sumitaku Harumi (住宅春美) on March 21, 1961, in Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture. Initially intending to become a chef, April 1976, Harumi entered Shimoda Gakuen Culinary School, from which he graduated in 1978. Around this time he began to read poetry, religion, and philosophy, and in September 1982, initiated his studies in Buddhism via a correspondence course through the Central Buddhism Academy (中央仏教学院). One year later, in July 1983, he became a priest of the Pure Land sect of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji at the Nishi—Honganji (西本願寺) temple in Kyoto, where he was given the Buddhist name Saku Kenshin (roughly translated: „blossoming devotion”).

Eric Hoffman is the author of several collections of poetry, including This Thin Mean (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019). He is the author of Oppen: A Narrative, a biography of poet George Oppen (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), editor of Cerebus the Barbarian Messiah: Essays on the Epic Graphic Satire of Dave Sim and Gerhard (McFarland, 2012), co-editor (with Dominick Grace) of Approaching Twin Peaks: Essays on the Original Series (McFarland, 2017), Dave Sim: Conversations (2013), Chester Brown: Conversations (2013), and Seth: Conversations (2015), with Grace and Jason Sacks of Jim Shooter: Conversations (2017), and with Nina Goss of Tearing the World Apart: Bob Dylan and the 21st Century (2017), all published by the University Press of Mississippi.