Three-Dimensional Reading: Stories of Time and Space in Japanese Modernist Fiction, 1911-1932, edited by Angela YIU, illustrated by SAKAGUCHI Kyōhei (University of Hawaii Press, 2013).
University of Hawaii Press has just published this innovative and creative collection of stories, which includes prose by many of the most exciting writers of the early twentieth-century Japanese literature.
This collection also includes my own translation of INAGAKI Taruho’s “Astromania” 稲垣足穂「天体嗜好症」, a oddly shaped, meandering, yet beautiful story about a young boy’s aesthetic awakening in the Western quarters of the city of Kobe. (In many ways, I think that Inagaki is subtly riffing off the discourse of sexology, which tended to stereotype an aesthetic orientation with homosexuality, but more about that at another time.)
Here is some information about the book from the press release.
A 29th-century dystopian society seen through the eyes of a mutant-cum-romantic poet; a post-impressionist landscape of orbs and cubes experienced by a wandering underdog; an imaginary sick room generated entirely from sounds reaching the ears of an invalid: These and other haunting re-presentations of time and space constitute the Japanese modernist landscape depicted in this volume of stories from the 1910s to the 1930s.
The fourteen stories selected for this anthology—by both relatively unknown and “must-read” authors—experiment with a protean modernist style in the vivacious period between the nationbuilding Meiji and the early years of Showa. The writers capture imaginary temporal and spatial dimensions that embody forms of futuristic urban space, colonial space, utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia. Their work invites readers to abandon the conventional naturalistic approach to spatial and temporal representations and explore how the physical and empirical experience of time and space is distorted and reconfigured through the prism of modernist Japanese prose.
William Anastasi - Transfer Copy, 1968
The submission period for our first ever translation contest (1st prize: 1,000 USD) has begun!
Contest details can be found at www.asymptotejournal.com/contest.php.
Letter from Pablo Picasso to Gertrude Stein (1919)
—Écrivez si le coeur vous le dit.
The March 11, 2011 earthquake that shook northeastern Japan also reverberated throughout Japanese society, forcing it to reconsider many of things things that it had taken for granted—its usage of energy, its relationship to the natural environment, its relationship with the government, and its modes of organizing at the grass-roots level. Almost immediately, writers took action. Many figures known for their involvement in social issues, writers such as Ōe Kenzaburō, Tsushima Yūko, and Ishimure Michiko, began respond and publish statements to the press, helping to use their influence to help shape reconstruction efforts and talk about new directions for the Japanese nation.
Perhaps the segment of the Japanese literary world where the seismic forces of 3/11 were felt most strongly, however, was the poetic world. Many Japanese newspapers include regular columns that include free verse (shi), tanka, or haiku poems, but in just the few days after 3/11, poetry began to emerge from those small columns and take a more prominent place in the news, eventually finding its way into a central position in the discourse that had started unfolding across the nation. Poetry exploded into the mainstream, serving as one of the ways that the nation thought about and processed its own complicated feelings about the disasters.
Because I was in Japan at the time and experienced the quakes, numerous aftershocks, and anxiety personally, I have been unable to forget it. After a few weeks of uncertainty and great worry, everything I had come to Japan to do was cancelled, and so I cut my stay short and returned to the United States ahead of schedule. As one way of working through the experience and my complicated feelings about returning to America, I began translating a number of poems about the quake and the resulting disasters, mostly poems written by poets whom I admire. Most of those translations have been published in various journals, mostly online.
Here is a collection of links to some of those translations. Some appear with the original Japanese. Most of the poems first appeared in the May 2011 special issue of Handbook of Contemporary Poetry 『現代詩手帖』dedicated to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. Some were also published in a special section in the daily newspaper Asahi shinbun published in commemoration of the first anniversary of the quake. Others were published in various magazines or newspapers, but still, these poems are only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. There are thousands upon thousands more poems out there.
TANIKAWA Shuntarō: “Words”
WAGŌ Ryōichi: Pebbles of Poetry (Part I)
TAKAHASHI Mutsuo: “These Things Here and Now”
YOSHIMASU Gōzō: “at the side (côtés) of poetry”
ITŌ Hiromi: “Cooking, Writing Poetry”
ARAI Takako: “Half a Pair of Shoes” and “Galapagos”
HIRATA Toshiko: “Do Not Tremble” and “Please”
TANAKA Yōsuke: “Screaming Potato Field”
OHSAKI Sayaka: “Noisy Animal”
Jeffrey ANGLES: “Return After Earthquake”
Bernard F Eilers: Blossoms, c. 1915
National Poetry Month 2013
The Academy of American Poets has produced this poster to celebration National Poetry Month this year. Check it and the other plans for the month out on the Academy’s website.
The Joy of the Poet's Hand -
In celebration of National Poetry Month 2013, I wanted to share a site showing a number of poems in the original handwriting of the poets. Although we all have all seen Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems, I realized while looking at this page that I had never seen Virginia Clemm Poe’s deliberate, calligraphic handwriting, or the childlike, big writing of Anne Sexton. Somehow a poem comes alive in such a different way when written in the author’s own hand. Check the photos of the manuscripts out by clicking here.
The always beautiful literary journal Manoa, published by the University of Hawai’i, has an especially impressive and beautiful new issue centering on the theme of freedom and what that means for individuals, societies, cultures, nations, and religions. It also contains an extract from my translation of Takahashi Mutsuo’s Twelve Views from the Distance—the entire first, unforgettable chapter of the book about a young boy dealing with his own mother’s attempts to find freedom in adversity. Check Manoa out by clicking here.
"A Portrait of the Poet as a Child" Japan Times Review of Twelve Views from the Distance by Takahashi Mutsuo 高橋睦郎『十二の遠景』英訳の書評 -
David Burleigh at The Japan Times, just published this review of my translation of Takahashi Mutsuo’s memoirs Twelve Views from the Distance 高橋睦郎『十二の遠景』. He describes how the book describes the grinding poverty and difficulty of Takahashi’s early life, then states,
Takahashi invokes a world that has now mostly disappeared, along with its bitterness and hunger. Yet it was also a rich world, for those who managed to survive it.
And what was the secret of survival? Undoubtedly to some extent it was the poet’s imagination. Near the end he writes: “My undeveloped, youthful soul felt a strong affinity for what was outside my world in the realm of the other.”
With photographs and a retrospective afterword by the author, this is an excellent translation of an absorbing and necessary book.
Because I worked on this translation a little at a time, often working in half-hour increments pilfered from other projects, this translation took me a number of years from start to publication, beginning in 2006 until around 2010. It was then another couple of years before it found its way into print in late 2012 with University of Minnesota Press, which took quite a chance on deciding publish this rather unusual, but profoundly beautiful book. This project was a long labor of love, and so it means an enormous deal to me that this book review—the first to be published—is so enthusiastic.
Sibley Translation Prize Winners 2013 -
Each year, University of Chicago holds a contest in which people submit translations from Japanese into English. The winners are placed online and win a significant cash prize. This year’s winners were just announced: Annika Culver and Andrew Murakami-Smith. Here is more information, plus links to the two super stories online.
Heading for Moscow (Mosukuwa sashite)
Written by NAKANO Shigeharu
Translated by Annika A. Culver
Introduction to this text
Annika A. Culver is Assistant Professor of Asian History and Asian Studies Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She recently published the book Glorify the Empire: Japanese Avant-Garde Propaganda in Manchukuo (University of British Columbia Press, 2013). Current projects include a book chapter, “Japanese Mothers and Rural Settlement in Wartime Manchukuo: Gendered Reflections of Labor and Productivity in Manchuria Graph, 1940-1944” for Dana Cooper and Claire Phelan, eds., Motherhood and War, and a monograph on images of women and consumerism in early 20th century East Asia. In autumn 2013, Culver will join the faculty at Florida State University as Assistant Professor of East Asian History.
Skin of the Pike Conger Eel (Hamo no kawa)
Written by KAMIZUKASA Shoken
Translated by Andrew Murakami-Smith
Introduction to this text
Andrew Murakami-Smith is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Language and Culture at Osaka University. While writing his dissertation on “Dialects and Place in Modern Japanese Literature,” he did two years of research at Osaka University. After obtaining his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1997, he returned to Osaka to work as a translator at a patent lawyer’s office. He has a continuing interest in regional dialects and cultures of Japan, especially the dialect, culture, and image of Osaka. He has translated into English some 15 works of modern fiction, poetry, and essays relating to Osaka.
Review of "Writing the Love of Boys" in Transformative Works and Cultures -
The online journal Transformative Works and Cultures just ran a special issue about transnational fandoms and boy’s love manga. In it was a review of my book by Emerald King (a name that itself sounds like it is right out of a boy’s love manga). Here is the link. In one place, the reviewer writes,
Writing the Love of Boys is an engaging and challenging text that encourages readers to interrogate their understanding of boys’ love narratives in Japan as more than just a current popular cultural trend. The book is of interest not only to scholars of boys’ love narratives and associated bishōnen culture, but also to students of Taishō modernism and gender studies.
Inventory (Princeton Journal of Translation) CFP -
I received this call for submissions. Inventory is a handsomely designed, well-conceived publication. I encourage friends interested in translation to submit.
Call for Submissions:
INVENTORY Nº4 (Princeton University Journal of Translation)
Submission deadline for next issue June 1, 2013
We consider translations of poetry and prose from any language – ancient or modern – into English. We welcome new translations of previously translated work, and we encourage our translators to engage imaginatively with the conventions and possibilities of literary translation. We regret that we are unable to accept translations into languages other than English.
Poetry submissions should include 3-6 poems (no more than five pages), and fiction submissions should not exceed 2000 words. We do accept excerpts, but request that you include a single-paragraph summary of the full work. Please attach a copy of all pieces in their first language.
Inventory is particularly interested in translations of works involving visual and graphic elements. Should the text you are translating comprise a graphic or visual component, we kindly request you include this element with your submission as an attachment not larger than 10 MB.
Submissions should be directed to email@example.com, indicating in the subject line the genre and first language of the submission, if applicable.We ask that you include in the body of your email a brief paragraph describing the piece’s translation history, as well any relevant information about why you have chosen to translate the piece at this time.
Published writers retain copyright of their material and are free to publish again elsewhere. We regret that we can accept unsolicited submissions by email only.
Thank you for your interest, and please contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You may also visit our website for further information.