TANAKA Kyōkichi illustration for HAGIWARA Sakutarō’s groundbreaking, first book of poetry Howling at the Moon, published in 1917. Hagiwara is often considered the “father of modern Japanese poetry.”
Walt Whitman, Original manuscript for the “Calamus” poems
The “Calamus” poems, first published in the third edition of Leaves of Grass (1860), describe Whitman’s longing for the companionship and love of men. By treating the subject of love between men so boldly, these poems became some of the most infamous pieces of poetry in mid-19th century America. Not only was the book banned in Boston and other places, it resulted in Whitman losing his job and suffering at the hands of critics. Now, however, these poems are an essential part of American poetic history, and Whitman occupies a rightful place as one of the great visionaries of American letters. Happy Banned Books week, Whitman!
For more photographs of the manuscript, click here.
Poetry Reading in Fifteen Languages: A Symphony for the Senses
Portage District Library (Portage, MI)
Sunday, September 30, 2:00-4:00 PM
As a celebration of this community’s diversity, the Portage District Library and the Department of World Languages and Literatures of Western Michigan University are collaborating on a poetry reading in fifteen languages. We are bringing together area residents from different areas of the world, asking them to select a favorite poem or read a poem of their own in their language. We encourage the audience to sit back and let the rhythms, movement and intonations flow over them and evoke personal feelings and meanings. We will distribute translations into English as well. No registration required. Free. Reception with foods from around the world will follow.
Marsha Meyer, Portage District Library: MMeyer@portagelibrary.info
Cynthia Running-Johnson, Department of World Languages and Literatures, WMU: email@example.com
So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read in school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.
It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.
|—||Jeanette Winterson, from In Defense of Poetry|
Alvin Pang: “Candles”
Alvin recorded this reading at Worlds 2012 in Norwich, where he shared a number of poems from his new collection When the Barbarians Arrive (Arc Publications, 2012). The cadences and grammar of the Singlish (Singaporean English) have borrowed an incredible amount from Chinese, making listening to this poem a real treat.
The Japan Times published an article earlier this year about Hiromi Itō, the brilliant writer who is one of my greatest muses and the subject of my work as a translator. (In 2009, Action Books published my book of translations Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, and little by little, I am working on a translation of her long work, Wild Grass on the Riverbank『河原荒草』. ) The entire article can be found by clicking the link above, but here is one highlight.
"When I was in my 20s or early 30s, I really didn’t like being called a feminist," she said. "People were trying to categorize me, classify me as a feminist poet and I hated it. I wanted to be a poet, not a woman poet. I was really against the way men tried to push us aside and not let us into the mainstream of poetry."
That she has misgivings about the term “feminism” — because she thinks it goes without saying that she’s just as capable as a man — is an irony that is not lost on Ito. When explaining that she tweaked her 2001 translation into Japanese of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in The Hat” to make it appear to Japanese readers that the cat is giving equal attention to the girl while addressing the brother-sister duo, she quipped good-naturedly, “See, I’m a feminist.”
The online poetry journal Big Bridge has in its May 2012 issue a special selection, edited by Jane Nakagawa-Joritz, of contemporary Japanese poetry. Among them are a number of Japan’s most interesting, avant-garde poets. Among them are two of expatriate poets living in Japan (Phillip Rowland and Jane Joritz-Nakagawa) and two Japanese poets (Yoko Danno and Goro Takano) who live in Japan but write and publish exclusively in English.
Arai Takako 新井高子, trans. Jeffrey Angles
Danno Yōko 團野葉子
Sekiguchi Ryōko 関口涼子, trans. Eric Selland
Takagai Hiroya 高貝弘也, trans. Eric Selland
Takano Gorō 高野吾郎
Tanaka Atsusuke 田中宏輔, trans. Jeffrey Angles
Torii Shōzō 鳥居昌三, trans. Taylor Mignon
Tsukagoshi Yūka 塚越裕佳, trans. the author and Judy Halebsky
Thanks to the folks at Big Bridge for bringing more work from Japan into English.
三好達治 MIYOSHI Tatsuji (1900-1964)
The father wrote poems every day
The poems turned into a cap and backpack
Into textbooks and crayons
Into a little umbrella and other things
The first of April
The son was led by his mother
Through the town of blooming cherry trees
To the entrance ceremony
For the first graders in the Citizen’s School
Held inside the old castle
In the house which had now grown quiet
Left alone with the elderly maid, the father
Listened to the songs of the birds
Listened to the roar of the sea
As if hearing for the first time in ages
Translated by Jeffrey Angles
From YOTSUMOTO Yasuhiro’s introduction for Poetry International Web
To many Japanese baby-boomers who were born within a decade or so after the end of World War II, Tatsuji Miyoshi was the national poet, and his works appeared in their textbooks almost every school year. Those poems were perfect for classroom teaching: short and handsome, simple yet profound…Those were the days shortly after the poet’s death in 1964 at the age of 64. Nowadays, unfortunately, Tatsuji Miyoshi is not heard about so often, although his collected poems are still in print in several editions and there is even a poetry award commemorating his work. Most contemporary poets seem to consider him a poet of the past, whose poems might have played fine emotional tunes at the time, but lacked social and historical awareness. The fact that, during the war, Miyoshi wrote poems in moral support of the soldiers on the frontlines, if not for the regime itself, must have been partly responsible for such a view.But if you set aside the ideological judgments and appreciate the landscapes of Tatsuji Miyoshi’s poetry as they are, you will find an extraordinarily wide range of styles and extremely sophisticated techniques, which few poets today can match…The reader of his work feels as though they had known him personally, and it is his compassion more than anything else that is so touching. Tatsuji Miyoshi is a poet of attachment as opposed to detachment: he reduces the distance between himself and his object, whether it be a human being or nature, until they become one. His songs are born in that moment of togetherness. And yet, “being a poet”, as he wrote in ‘The Shore of the Sky’, he is also a traveller at heart: he moves on, trying to see beyond, “blinking it eyes at the scent of the tides, chasing after clouds that fly away” (from ‘The Lamb’). Tatsuji Miyoshi travelled rather hastily through the most violent and tragic period in the Japanese history. But he has left behind him the songs which are to stay with us for a long time.
Today is Poem Your Pocket Day
Thursday, April 26, 2012
From the Academy of American Poets
The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.
Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. Create your own Poem In Your Pocket Day event using ideas below or let us know how your plans, projects, and suggestions for Poem In Your Pocket Day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this video
Each year on national Poem in Your Pocket Day, the town of Charlottesville, Virginia unites in a day-long celebration of poetry. The project is spear-headed by Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, whose staff recruit members of the community — students, senior citizens, local business owners, neighbors, and friends — to distribute poem scrolls throughout Charlottesville.
腹語術VentriloquyI walk into the wrong room
And miss my own wedding.
Through the only hole in the wall I see
All proceeding perfectly: The groom in white
The bride with flowers in her hand, the rites
The vows, the kiss
Turning my back on it: fate, the ventriloquy
I’ve worked so long and hard at
(tongue, that warm aquatic creature,
squirms domestic in its tank)
And the creature says: I do.
Jacob Clemens non Papa (c. 1510/15-1555/56), “Ego flos campi”
Performed by Stile Antico
Stile Antico is one of the most brilliant and sensitive early music vocal groups performing today. Based in England, they perform frequently throughout Europe and North America.
This stunningly lovely song, sung in Latin, has this as the text.
I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valley;
As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters:
A fountain of gardens, and the well of living waters;
and streams from Lebanon.
In celebration of National Poetry Month 2012
Kay Ryan reading “Home to Roost”
About Ryan’s work, J. D. McClatchy has said: “Her poems are compact, exhilarating, strange affairs, like Erik Satie miniatures or Joseph Cornell boxes. She is an anomaly in today’s literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost” (Quoted here).
In celebration of National Poetry Month
The newest issue of Asymptote, one of the very best and innovative online journals of international fiction, includes an excerpt from my translation of TAKAHASHI Mutsuo's memoirs Twelve Views from the Distance. Takahashi is one of Japan’s most prominent poets, known for his bold explorations of homoeroticism as well as for his philosophical and erudite writing.
Asymptote includes an English translation, the original text, and an MP3 of a reading of the text in the original language. The reading in this issue is by OKAMOTO Sayuri, one of the editors, and with her quiet, intimate voice, she brings the original Japanese alive in a beautiful way.
The entire book is scheduled to be published in fall 2012 by University of Minnesota Press. The illustration above is by Hugo Muecke.
In honor of National Poetry Month 2012
ディキンソンは 生前は全く無名であったが、1700篇以上残した作品はアメリカの現代詩の出発点とされている。詩を封筒や屑紙に書くことが毎日の戯れだったが、その他に 自分の庭に植物を育つことが熱心だった。『植物標本集』にそれぞれの植物を集めたので、十九世紀のアメリカの植物を研究するために、貴重な資料になってい る。
From Emily Dickinson: Herbarium
In honor of National Poetry Month 2012