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Jeffrey Angles

Jeffrey Angles (ジェフリー・アングルス) (born 1971) is an award-winning poet who writes free verse in his second language, Japanese. He is also an American scholar of modern Japanese literature and an award-winning literary translator of modern and contemporary Japanese poetry and fiction into English. He is a professor of Japanese language and Japanese literature at Western Michigan University.

Angles in 2009
Angles in 2009
BornJuly 10, 1971
Columbus, Ohio
OccupationTranslator, writer, professor
NationalityUnited States



Angles was born in Columbus, Ohio. When he was fifteen, he traveled to Japan for the first time as a high school exchange student, staying in the small, southwestern Japanese city of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which represented a turning point in his life. Since then he has spent several years living in various Japanese cities, including Saitama City, Kobe, and Kyoto.[1]

While a graduate student in Japanese literature at The Ohio State University in the mid-1990s, Angles began translating Japanese short stories and poetry, publishing in a wide variety of literary magazines in the United States, Canada, and Australia.[2] He is particularly interested in translating poetry and modernist texts, since he feels these have been largely overlooked and understudied by academics in the West. He is passionate about translation as a discipline, stating that "without translation, we would be locked within our own cultures, unable to access the vast, overwhelming wealth of the rest of the world's intellect. By translating literary works, we are making that world heritage available to literally millions of people."[3]

Angles earned his Ph.D. in 2004 with a dissertation about representations of male homoeroticism in the literature of Kaita Murayama and the popular writer Ranpo Edogawa. This is the basis for his book Writing the Love of Boys published in 2011 by University of Minnesota Press, which also includes new research on Taruho Inagaki and Jun'ichi Iwata. In this book, he shows that segments of early twentieth-century Japanese society were influenced by Western psychology to believe that homosexuality was a pathological aberration. These views, however, were countered by a number of writers who argued precisely the opposite: that it was a vital, powerful, and even beautiful experience that had a long, rich history in Japan. Angles draws upon fiction, poetry, essays, diaries, paintings and other visual material to trace the relations between these writers and the inspiration that they drew from early Western homophile writers, such as Edward Carpenter, John Addington Symonds, and Walt Whitman. In the conclusion of the book, Angles also discusses the ways that contemporary BL manga have inherited and built upon the ideas fashioned by Kaita Murayama, Ranpo Edogawa, and Taruho Inagaki several decades earlier.[4] Angles' other research involves studies of popular Japanese culture in the 1920s and 1930s, writing about contemporary Japanese poetry, and studying the history of translation in Japan.[2][5]

He has also contributed a critically acclaimed voice-over commentary to the Criterion Collection's release of Kenji Mizoguchi's 1954 film Sansho the Bailiff.[6]


In 2009, Angles received the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, administered by the Donald Keene Center for Japanese Studies at Columbia University for his translation of Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Chimako Tada.[7] This same book also won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2011.[8] His book of translations, Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, published in 2009 by Action Books, was a finalist in the poetry category of the Best Translated Book Award offered by Three Percent.[9] His translation of the wartime memoirs of the gay writer Mutsuo Takahashi, Twelve Views from the Distance, was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award (memoir category) in 2013.

Angles has also won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts[10] and the 2008 PEN Translation Fund Grant from PEN American Center for his translation of the memoirs of the contemporary poet Mutsuo Takahashi. In 2008, Angles was invited to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to serve as the curator for the literary events in the Japan: Culture+Hyperculture Festival.[11] He has also been interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered about the short story collection Japan: A Traveler's Literary Companion, which he co-edited with J. Thomas Rimer.[12]

In 2009–2010, Angles was a visiting researcher at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, where he organized a group research project about the history of translation practices in Japan.[5] In 2011, he was a visiting professor in Comparative Literature at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo.

In 2017, Angles was awarded the Yomiuri Prize, a prize comparable to America's Pulitzer Prize, for Literature in poetry during a formal ceremony in Tokyo on Feb. 17. Angles won the prize for his book of Japanese-language poetry, "Watashi no hizukehenkosen" ("My International Date Line").[13] Angles is one of the few non-native speakers to win the award and is the first non-native ever to win for a book of poetry.

Major publicationsEdit


  • Tada, Chimako (2010), Forest of Eyes: Selected Poetry of Tada Chimako, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-26051-1
  • Takahashi, Mutsuo (2010), Intimate Worlds Enclosed, Sakura: Kawamura Memorial Art Museum
  • Takahashi, Mutsuo (2012), Twelve Views from the Distance, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0816679362
  • Itō, Hiromi (2009), Killing Kanoko: Selected Poetry of Hiromi Itō, Notre Dame, IN: Action Books, ISBN 978-0-9799755-4-7
  • Itō, Hiromi (2014), Wild Grass on the Riverbank, Notre Dame, IN: Action Books, ISBN 978-0-9898048-4-4
  • Arai, Takako (2008), Soul Dance: Selected Poems by Takako Arai, Tokyo: Mi'Te Press
  • Translations of stories by Ranpo Edogawa, Kaita Murayama, Taruho Inagaki, Kyūsaku Yumeno, and Sakutarō Hagiwara in Tyler, William J. (2008), Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913–1938, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-3242-1


  • Angles, Jeffrey (2011), Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0-8166-6970-7
  • Angles, Jeffrey (2016), These Things Here and Now: Poetic Responses to the March 11, 2011 Disasters, Tokyo: Josai University Educational Corporation University Press, ISBN 978-4-907630-54-6.



  1. ^ "Soga Japan Center webpage at Western Michigan University". Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education, Western Michigan University. 2009. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Jeffrey Angles, Publications and Research Interests". Jeffrey Angles, Western Michigan University. 2010.
  3. ^ "WMU Japanese professor wins international award for translation work". Western Herald. June 13, 2010.
  4. ^ Jeffrey Angles, Writing the Love of Boys (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
  5. ^ a b "Cultural History of Translation in Japan". International Research Center for Japanese Studies. 2009.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Sansho the Bailiff (1954)". Criterion Collection. 2010.
  7. ^ "Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature". Donald Keene Center for Japanese Studies. 2010. Archived from the original on April 21, 2010.
  8. ^ "Jeffrey Angles receives the 2011 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award". Academy of American Poets. 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2012.
  9. ^ "Best Translated Book Award 2010: The Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. February 16, 2010.
  10. ^ "PEN American Center Announces the 2008 Translation Fund Grant Recipients". PEN American Center. 2008. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012.
  11. ^ "JAPAN! culture + hyperculture". Kennedy Center. 2008. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010.
  12. ^ "Japan (Sans Geishas) in 'Literary Companion'". NPR. September 24, 2006.
  13. ^ "Western Michigan professor wins prestigious Japanese literary award". Retrieved 2017-03-02.

External linksEdit