I purchased this book because I liked the preface (really that never happens) and I was under the mistaken impression that the author had written it -- it was actually written by Lucien Stryk and not the author, Stephen Berg. Now, that said, let it be noted that the "author" did not translate these, he used translations from others (see the Forward) and from them, he creates the "versions" we see in this book.
Ikkyu's original poems were in four-lines. If you take a look at this book, you'll notice they're no longer in four-lines, they've been condensed to two-lines each. Now, in my mind, Japanese poetry loses enough through translation to English as you lose cultural references, puns, and other subtle references that just don't make it into English, or if they do, they're unnoticed. To then change the emphasis of the poems by putting them in two-lines instead of four...it feels like the poems are being taken further from the originals than necessary. I personally don't understand (or agree with) this change, and the author doesn't explain himself. Rather, he just said (in the Forward), "A true essay about what happened between their texts and mine would have to explain at length a process not usually associated with other such ambitions transfigurations." -- In all honesty, that sounds like some sort of prevarication to me.
In this sort of poetry, the ending of a line gives pause, the ending of a thought, the dragging on of another. It's an act of condensing and stretching out ideas and it makes a very large difference in how something's read and the resulting meaning that's taken away. As this can be hard to imagine, I'm going to give an example.
Here is one of the poems, as written in the book:
"Even before trees rocks I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere I'll be nothing"
-- "Crow with No Mouth" versions by Stephen Berg, p. 19
Now, both lines are a bit rough to read, they're jerky and don't flow at all. While it may appear enigmatic (something usually attributed to Zen), one might be willing to let go of that rough presentation when realizing that this was not the original layout of the poem as Ikkyu had written it. -- In other words, letting go of that roughness would not take you further from the original poem's meaning. In fact, it may take you closer.
I'm going to personally break the poem up into four-lines instead, see how differently it can be read now:
"Even before trees
rocks I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere
I'll be nothing"
The line break between "trees" and "rocks" gives a natural pause that is similar to the pause one would insert if reading the words with a comma in between them: "trees, rocks." Note, also, how the word "nothing" is at the end of two lines and the repetition -- not just when read, but visually looking at it -- adds a seriousness to it. This repetition of the word "nothing" can also be seen in the two-line version, but because the lines are longer, and the rhythm isn't as flowing, that isn't necessarily as apparent.
Here's another option:
"Even before trees, rocks
I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere
I'll be nothing"
This one reads more swiftly, but the lines: "I was nothing" and "I'll be nothing" show a transition through time with a remaining constant: being nothing. This version shows the passage of time more than the previous version, and lends itself more to contemplation of one's place relative to the past and the future -- that is, where one fits in in the grander scheme of things.
Now, those are just two options, but I think it's quite obvious how different two-line and four-line forms are. There's a different flow, a different rhythm, and even the meaning itself can be easier to grasp with the original four-line form.
Honestly, I'm not sure why the author did these versions in two-line form. While they may be closer to Stephen Berg's conception of them, they're farther away from Ikkyu's original form -- and at the end of the day, it was Ikkyu's poems I wanted to read, not Stephen Berg's.
Please look at the preview carefully, make a conclusion for yourself -- it's all about whether you like it or not. Personally, however, I found these to be sub-par and far from Ikkyu's originals -- which is what I had wanted.