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Haruki Murakami speech in Kyoto

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s recent speech in Kyoto

includes an anecdote about Hayao Kawai, the late Jungian-

trained author after whom a new literary prize in Japan–with

Murakami its first recipient–has been named.

(from The Asahi Shimbun site)

Haruki Murakami: I live an ordinary life


May 13, 2013

By KAE MORISHITA/ Shukan Asahi Weekly Magazine


Reclusive novelist Haruki Murakami surprised and delighted the audience when he opened up about several topics during his recent speech at Kyoto University. Smiling and cracking jokes, the best-selling author and Nobel Prize contender was in high spirits from start to finish.

Murakami, 64, began his speech by saying, “I do not usually appear in public, but this is a special occasion, so I have emerged like a ‘kappa’ (a water goblin haunting mainly rivers). You may ask why I do not go out in public. I am a person who lives an ordinary life. I take the subway and bus to move around, and I shop at stores in my neighborhood. It would be troublesome if I was often approached on the street as a result of appearing on TV.”

Murakami told a funny anecdote about his daily life.

“Years ago, I went to renew my driver’s license. A staff member at the counter repeatedly called, ‘Haruki Murakami.’ When I went to the counter, the person asked me, ‘You have the same name as that famous novelist, don’t you?’ I answered ‘yes.’ I am like an endangered Iriomote wildcat. I beg you not to come close and touch me.”

The speech and interview, held May 6 at Kyoto University, was titled “Tamashii wo Miru, Tamashii wo Kaku” (Seeing a soul, writing a soul). The event was held to commemorate the establishment of the Kawai Hayao Monogatari-sho, Gakugei-sho (Kawai Hayao story prize and literary prize), in honor of the late psychologist Hayao Kawai.

During the event, Murakami touched on his friendship with Kawai.

“I rarely call someone ‘sensei’ (teacher), but I spontaneously called him Kawai-sensei,” Murakami said.

He also related one of Kawai’s puns: “(Kawai said that) one day the prime minister was late for a Cabinet meeting (when Kawai served as commissioner for cultural affairs). The prime minister apologized to the Cabinet ministers, saying, ‘I am sorry, I am sorry (a pun on ‘sori,’ Japanese for prime minister).’ “

“He was such a thoroughly silly man,” Murakami added.

To continue reading.








Alan Botsford’s website

Along with recently building the new Poetry Kanto website,

I created a small website of my own which will be in ongoing

development. Please do visit. I would welcome your input or

comments. The website can be found here.


The Treachery of Translators (NYT)

 [Article by Andy Martin for The New York Times.]

The Treachery of Translators




January 28, 2013,


The fact is, there were always going to be a lot of fish in “Vingt mille lieues sous les mers.” When a publishing house commissioned me to produce a new translation of Jules Verne’s 19th-century underwater epic, I was confident of bringing a degree of joyous panache to the story of Captain Nemo, his submarine, the Nautilus and that giant killer squid. But I had forgotten about its systematic taxonomy of all the inhabitants of the seven seas.

Somewhere around page 3 of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” I got this feeling that I was starting to drown in fish. There are an awful lot of fish down there, and there were possibly even more in the middle of the 19th century. Whereas my ichthyological vocabulary, whether in French or English or indeed any other language, was severely limited. The fish (and assorted oceanic mammals), in other words, far outnumbered my linguistic resources. I now know I should just have boned up on fish, the way any decent, respectable translator would have done.

(Note to the decent, respectable translator: I teach a college class on translation but I accept your critique that I am long on theory and short on practice.)

Instead I started counting how many pages there were and calculating how much I was getting paid per fish. It didn’t add up. I realize now that I should have switched to “Around the World in Eighty Days” – there are far fewer fish in that one.

My brilliant translating career hit another high when a French publisher invited me to translate Brigitte Bardot’s memoirs, “Initiales BB.” I had written a memoir about my childhood obsession with Bardot, so I said O.K. and suggested some modest revisions. It would have to be completely re-written from top to bottom and I would definitely take out all those exclamation marks. And I would put back in that affair with the English guy after she married Gunter Sachs – she should never have left that out! They took that as a “non.” Tant pis. All translators rewrite and rectify. Some even feel that they can do a better job of writing Bardot’s life than Bardot.

The law of karma is as unforgiving in the realm of translation as in any other and I was overdue for a taste of my own punishment. I had written a book about surfing in Hawaii called “Walking on Water,” which was eventually translated into Dutch. I had nothing to do with the translation and was simply presented with a fait accompli. My command of Dutch is negligible, but I thought I would test out “Lopen over water” by reference to a metaphor that was, if not my greatest contribution to literature, at least distinctively my own. There was a passage where I was drowning, but not feeling too put out about it, and I had written: “Death was warm and embracing like porridge.” I zeroed in on the sentence, but I couldn’t find anything even closely related to porridge. So I checked with a Dutch-speaking friend – could she tell me how the translator had done it?

“You’d better sit down,” she said.

The translator had not given my immortal metaphor the time of day. He had the same kind of hang-up about porridge that I had about fish. He took a shortcut right round it, passing seamlessly from the previous sentence to the one following. The porridge had not been lost in translation; it had been quite deliberately eradicated.

(to continue, click here.)

Philip Rowland’s “before music”

February 15, 2013



Philip Rowland, editor in Tokyo of NOON: journal of the short poem,

has recently published a collection of haiku, and we are here spreading

the word to interested readers and affeciannados of haiku. He reports

that he has hopes of getting the journal up and running again, in

some form, for 2013.


Here’s a link to order:


and some comments about his work below:


“Philip Rowland’s poems build meaning from sound with a subtle and subliminal grace, bringing new surprises and joy with each reading. Zukofsky and Corman (Rowland is clearly in that lineage) would admire his faithfulness to every word, his clean lines, and his discreet narrative of love and family. He strikes home with the immediacy and absolute commitment of Hosai and Ippekiro. To me, before music marks a rediscovery of haiku for the English-speaking world that should prove as invigorating as the modernist one of a century ago.”


John Martone


Philip Rowland’s before music could just as well be titled before mind. That’s where his poems take me — to the charged cusp of cognition. It happens in a flash but the words reverberate long on the page in concentric circles of verbal electricity.


what’s left of the light the music absorbs

You can’t step in the same Rowland poem twice.


- Joseph Massey

Understanding Etheridge Knight, by Michael S. Collins

January 31, 2013


Michael Collins, a poet and scholar who appeared in Poetry Kanto 2007, has written a new book on Etheridge Knight, a major poet 2007, has written a new book on Etheridge Knight, a major poet for the most part off the radar screen of contemporary poetry readers. This new book by Collins, which has been well received, should help correct that situation. Below are details from the University of South Carolina Press website.


Understanding Etheridge Knight 

Michael S. Collins

7066 Understanding Etheridge Knight, by Michael S. Collins


An in-depth look at the complex life and works of an African American poet

Understanding Etheridge Knight introduces readers to a major—but understudied—American poet. Etheridge Knight (1931–1991) survived a shrapnel wound suffered during military service in Korea, as well as a drug addiction that led to an eight-year prison sentence, to publish five volumes of poetry and a small cache of powerful prose. His status in the front ranks of American poets and thinkers on poetry was acknowledged in 1984, when he won the Shelley Memorial Award, which had previously gone, as an acknowledgement of “genius and need,” to E. E. Cummings, Gwendolyn Brooks, and W. S. Merwin.

In this first book-length study of Knight and his complete body of work, Michael Collins examines the poetry of a complex literary figure who, following imprisonment, transformed his life to establish himself as a charismatic voice in American poetry and an accomplished teacher at institutions such as the University of Hartford, Lincoln University, and his own Free Peoples Poetry Workshops.

Beginning with a concise biography of Knight, Collins explores Knight’s volumes of poetry including Poems from Prison, Black Voices from Prison, Born of a Woman, and The Essential Etheridge Knight. Understanding Etheridge Knight brings attention to a crucial era in African American and American poetry and to the literature of the incarcerated while reflecting on the life and work of an original voice in American poetry.

Michael Collins is an associate professor of English at Texas A&M University. He has published essays and creative works in PMLA, Modern Philology, Michigan Quarterly Review, Callaloo, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, The Best American Poetry 2003, and elsewhere.

“Understanding Etheridge Knight is a superb venture in literary criticism and intellectual biography. Michael Collins brings erudition, intelligence, shrewdness, and deftness of expression to this study of a significant if little-known American poet.”—Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University

Hirsohima Suite, by William Heyen

January 8, 2013


The first four lyrics of William Heyen’s Hirsohima Suite,

interesting as they are as they introduce two of the book’s

main characters, are just asymmetrical purchase, but then,

as he has written elsewhere, “the moment of the poem

arrives,” & it arrives here in waves of 15-line meditative

cerebrations that refract, as art must, “the agonies [that]

encandle us.”

Here they are, then: Mrs. Aoyama who, at Point Zero,

has less than no time to realize anything of what happens

when Little Boy detonates; & heroic Mr. Tanimoto who

ferries the living dead toward green across Hiroshima’s

Ota River. To the poet, too, a fish appears–a blunt-headed

witness creature as aura-drenched as any in our literature

–& a bamboo pole with multitudinious eyes, & a stow-

away mouse. & you. & Heyen’s often double-negative

& triple-negative compromised song as the Enola Gay,

doesn’t it never not, accomplishes its design. Its engines

keep revving in the radiated mnemonic memorial water

that passes through the fish’s gills. “Even the Buddha’s

dilemma/ is how not to drown in it as he sips moon

from that water.”

Hasn’t it never not ever become increasingly unclear

–this question flashing among questions of aesthetics–

after his end-of-nature books Pterodactyl Rose &

The Rope & after his obsessive Erika: Poems of the 

Holocaust, Ribbons: The Gulf War, Crazy Horse in

Stillness, Shoah Train, A Poetics of Hiroshima, The

Angel Voices, The Football Corporations & other

of his exiles & reconciliations–that Heyen has become

the most substantial poet of his American generation?

I invite you to allow this remarkable Hiroshima Suite

–which seems to have heard all at once in one non-

linear audition–to intone for you until, within the

“transluminous horror” of August 6, 1945, we are

never not whole again but are, at the same time, in

Robert Frost’s phrases, “beyond confusion.”

 – Edwina Seaver

                                                Rome/ 2012

HS 201x300 Hirsohima Suite, by William Heyen

For more details about the book, and the author, visit Nine Points,

the  publisher’s site, or Amazon.

* This blogger would like to invite serious translators interested in

translating Hiroshima Suite into Japanese to contact me, with

particulars, at

Kaimana Review for Adele Ne Jame’s The South Wind

December 25, 2012


(from KAIMANA 2012, Paul Nelson, editor.

Hawai’i Literary Arts Council)

by Alan Botsford, editor of Poetry Kanto and author of Walt Whitman of Cosmic Folklore

In an evidence-based world, we are forever trying to solve the puzzle of the play of appearances and trying to fit the pieces into place. For the poet, however, the pieces won’t fit, the puzzle will never be solved. Out of depths Orpheus-like and at the borders Janus-faced, Adele Ne Jame travels as exile and maker in an exploratory trajectory between seen and unseen, alive to the always-changing pathways towards the sayable. In The South Wind, a new collection of graceful, exquisitely-wrought poems, she navigates her way through the winds of loss, violence, and the ravages of history–via lament and mourning–towards the possibilities of new life. Each poem marks a destination reached that is hard-won, hard-earned, composed of the poet’s alchemic power, emotional steadiness, and spiritual nimbleness. And each destination marks a recovery, however provisional, through poetic remembrance and verbal music, of what time and war have undone.

In the poem “The World is a Wedding,” for example, Ne Jame in three steely-eyed, deft stanzas captures the dynamics of her late parents’ domestic life in New Jersey. The scene she depicts, while evoking their Lebanese origins, is an extended family’s meal together as they recount stories of exotic travels. In the final stanza, with the visiting whirlwind of uncles and cousins now departed from the house, Ne Jame offers this glimpse:

When the house is empty

Mother sits alone

in front of the T.V. watching

an old movie, the hero smoking a cigarette.

Father’s already asleep in the small room

off the kitchen, having given himself up

to the next small loss, to King’s Display

where in a shabby darkroom on West 45th Street

he will develop more prints

for the movies, ten-foot blowups of stars,

heroes on the marquee, the crowd passing by.

In the poem, Ne Jame’s progenitors remain real and hauntingly present to her. Indeed the archetypal Father will be forever among the “ten-foot blowups of stars,/ heroes on the marquee.” Yet the poem’s coup de grace occurs with the implication that the poet herself joins “the crowd passing by” in order to escape the Father’s shadow (History by any other name), an escape which, as Abraham Lincoln famously said, is impossible. If, then, the poet meets the requirements of a historical reality all too ready and willing to assert its control over the poetic imagination, it is a trade-off the poet consciously makes. Being bound thus to memory also frees up energy available to her as poet and is a function of the way she chooses to relate to the world.

You could say she harnesses the elemental wind to her poetic craft, intending the energies of a poem to be felt for what they are—modes or nodes of realization, not only of representation. When bringing such awareness into language, the poet as maker almost has to step aside, for a very clear force is writing through her, one that would declare: I have mastered the art of leaving, I perceive the forms and change them. The hugeness of the heart and vision, in other words, is mindfulness in action. We can learn much from this poet. She touches the nerve of our humanity and looses a freedom our hearts cry out for. We can, her poems remind us, vitally wake up to the voice we hear at dawn.

Yoko Danno – ‘trilogy’ 1970 poetry book re-issued

Poet, translator and editor (& PK 2010 contributor) Yoko Danno re-issued her 1970 poetry book “trilogy” this year from The Ikuta Press, entitled “Trilogy & Hagoromo: A Celestial Robe.”
from Winter Journey :

from Winter Journey:






as usual




in the water:


the thin



screened her



the world



Available at





reissue of William Heyen’s LORD DRAGONFLY, 2010

PK contributor (2007) William Heyen’s 1981 classic Lord Dragonfly has been reissued by H NGM N BKS, and editor Nate Pritts’ accompanying essay is well worth reading as well (see link & excerpt below).

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Heyen’s title invokes for me the rice paddy not far from my house in North Kamakura which pulsates with dragonflies of varying sizes, shapes and colors during hot, humid summer days.–A.B.)


Beginning Again: On Reissuing William Heyen’s Lord Dragonfly

by Nate Pritts

In 1992 I was a seventeen year old college freshman in Brockport, New York, a town where it’s always fall or winter, where the Erie Canal dominates both landscape & mood, all full of bird shadows, & where sunflowers look stark & lovely against the weathered brick of academic buildings.

Seventeen & I walked up the stairs of Lathrop Hall on the SUNY Brockport campus to my first college English class & the hallway chalkboard/message center told me:


Lord Dragonfly

sees me from all sides

at once.


(to continue, follow link–