Each poem in this collection is based on a Japanese character or kanji, and each begins with the kanji’s often contradictory definitionGrouped by topic — family, village, men’s and women’s complaints, old age, and death — the poems take readers on a journey to a Japan of many times and places. David Galef ’81, a professor at Montclair (N.J.) State University, is the author of more than a dozen books.