Modern poetry, popular song and their dangerous liaisons

Tsuboi Hideto, Alexander Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, Tsuboi Hideto examines the mutually entwined pursuits of modern poetry and music in interwar Japan, focusing especially on the work of Nakahara Chūya, Kitahara Hakushū, and the People’s Poetry group. Cutting across their respective distinctions within the poetry establishment, Tsuboi draws attention to these figures’ shared investment in symphonic, folk and popular music. In so doing, he identifies among them a prevailing concern for curating a poetic voice that might harmonize the conflictual registers of individual and collective expression and thereby attune the work of the poet to that of the ‘people’ more broadly. Meanwhile, the essay traces the currents of modernist and avant-garde thought in Japan and Europe that framed these poets’ engagements with music and sound. Tsuboi then illustrates the varying degrees to which these voices, forged within the cosmopolitan milieu of the Taisho period, bent toward the nationalizing project and later gave way to the chorus of wartime fascism and imperial expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-336
Number of pages24
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 3
Externally publishedYes


  • History of the senses
  • Kitahara Hakushū
  • Literary history
  • Modern Japanese poetry
  • Modernism
  • Music and composition
  • Nakahara Chūya
  • Orality
  • People’s poetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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