Los Angeles Book Launch – The Poetry Contest in 600 Rounds

UCLA Guesthouse

The final stop on my short book tour was at the University of California: Los Angeles, where I was able to relax in the pleasant surroundings of the UCLA Guesthouse, before going on to deliver a presentation on the translation process and critical conflict in the Poetry Contest in 600 Rounds.


As with the other talks on this trip, it was a pleasure to meet fellow premodernists, both young and old, and the discussions of the work after I finished speaking were both stimulating and informative. It was great to hear about the exciting research being pursued by graduate students in premodern Japanese Studies at UCLA, and I look forward to hearing more about their research in future conferences and meetings.

Lecture – University of Southern California

USC Campus

As part of my book tour last week, I visited the University of Southern California, and was able to give a lecture to their students about Japanese waka poetry. It’s early in the semester there, and so the students were only two or three weeks in to their module on Heian Japan. I hope I was able to convey the joys of waka to them – it’s nerve wracking to think that if I got it wrong, I could have put them off the subject. On the other hand, I’m envious of them to some extent – as they are just starting off on their engagement with premodern Japan, there are so many wonderful things to read and learn about in their future!

I started off with the wonderful account in Tosa nikki (‘The Tosa Diary’) of a provincial noble’s attempt to recite a self-composed poem to Ki no Tsurayuki and his party, and the way in which the aristocrats from the capital mock his efforts.

Before going on to talk about Heian-kyō (Kyoto) as an imagined literary space for poetic production, among many other things in the course of about an hour’s talk. At the end, at least I did get a round of applause!

And if you want to hear a short clip from my lecture, click on the link below to see a short video!

Prof. Tom McAuley, Lecturer in Japanese Studies from the University of Sheffield

A short clip from Prof. Tom McAuley's (University of Sheffield) talk on "waka," or Japanese poetry.

Posted by USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture on Friday, 31 January 2020

Vancouver Book Launch – The Poetry Contest in 600 Rounds

UBC Asian Studies Department

Last week I was able to visit the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (for less than twenty-four hours) and talk about the translation of Roppyakuban uta’awase. The UBC Asian Studies Department (pictured above) formed an appropriate backdrop to talk about premodern Japanese poetry, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to address an eclectic audience of fellow Asian Studies scholars and students, poets and others merely interested in hearing about the work. The discussions afterward were both stimulating and informative.

I can heartily recommend a visit to the beatiful campus at UBC (despite the rain during my visit), and the department of Asian Studies is fortunate to have the Nitobe Memorial Garden right next door, allowing for an escape from the stresses of scholarly life from time to time to enjoy the beauties of nature. I can certainly say that on stepping through the gates, it’s like taking a step into a formal garden in Japan.

Nitobe Memorial Garden