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Hiyoshi Poetry Festival Nov. 8, Keio University

November 5, 2012

1350606208 211x300 Hiyoshi Poetry Festival Nov. 8, Keio University

The Sixth Annual Hiyoshi Poetry Festival, held at Keio University’s

Hiyoshi campus, is upcoming on November 8. Featured poet-readers

include’s this year’s Poetry Kanto contributor Takako Arai, a

wonderful poet, along with acclaimed poets Nomura Kiwao and

Tanaka Yosuke, and award-winning American translator and 

Poetry Kanto contributor Jeffrey Angles.

For schedule details and further information, click here.

Japan Writers Conference 2012, Kyoto

November 4, 2012


[This year's Japan Writers Conference is scheduled for November

10 and 11, 2012 at Doshisha Women's University in Kyoto, Japan.

Information below, from the JWC website.]

The 6th Annual Japan Writers Conference, 2012

The Sixth Annual Japan Writers Conference will be in Kyoto this year at the Iwadegawa campus of Doshisha Women’s University.

See the Doshisha Women’s University homepage here.

This is the second time we’ve been there and it is a beautiful place. The dates are November 10 and 11, 2012.

As always, there will be a lot to learn, a lot to talk about, and a lot to take home. Do you wonder what can Facebook and other social media can do for your writing career? Two presentations will look at this issue, along with another on getting a film option for your novel. There will be  presentations on writing for children and young adults, along with a SCBWI gathering. Writing about the military, about Japan, sessions on traditional Japanese form and genre, editing, translation, and two publishing markets actively seeking your work are all part of the program, too. Presenters and participants will come from all over Japan, as well as from Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong. As in the past, this will be this will be a full and lively weekend.

For full details, click here.

Poetry Kanto 2012 update

September 9, 2012


PK 2012 is now at the printers. It should be ready in the fall,

by mid-November.

Thanks to all those who submitted poems this year, and to the

wonderful contributors. Here’s the line-up for PK’s 28th issue:


Arai Takako

    (trans. Jeffrey Angles)

Ito Hiromi

    (trans. Jeffrey Angles)

Yoko Danno

Adele Ne Jame

Mark Murphy

Paula Bohince

Peggy Aylsworth

Ann Fisher-Wirth

    (trans. Yoko Motoyoshi)

on translating Kenji Miyazawa’s “Ame ni mo makezu”

August 15, 2012


Here is an excerpt of a recent  Q & A from “Tomo Anthology blog

featuring two translators, David Sulz and Hart Larrabee, on their

respective translations of the classic Miyazawa poem “Ame ni mo

makezu”, about which this blog posted previously:

“What do you particularly like about this poem?

David Sulz: I love the human vs. nature struggle. It is not about defeating nature, or escaping into your basement/car/office/mall, or coming up with technology make yourself immune to nature. It’s about accepting nature, dealing with nature on its own turf,  and becoming mentally strong enough to not only endure but also enjoy it. Maybe this poem has influenced me embrace winter in one of the coldest winter cities on earth, Edmonton, where walking to work in -40 degrees or playing hockey outdoors or cross-country skiing is even more satisfying an achievement than in warmer climes.

I also like the idea that one can be both humble and strong at the same time. Humility isn’t weakness and strength isn’t aggression. A satisfied and good person doesn’t have to be ostentatious with big houses and fancy meals. Courage also comes from small acts that seem easy on paper but are difficult in real-life such as convincing people to stop quarrelling or helping someone with a heavy load when lots of other people are watching.

Finally, I appreciate the last line—“this is my goal, the person I strive to become.” Miyazawa is not telling anyone else how to act or be except by his own example—which is very Buddhist, I think. He is saying, here’s what I think it takes to be human, I’m going to try to achieve it, you can try too if you’d like but you don’t have to.

Hart Larrabee: On its own, I like it as a spare and deeply personal meditation on right living. As a phenomenon, I am fascinated by the way it has been employed post-3/11 to convey a kind of stoic resolve in the face of tragedy. I can’t help but wonder if Satoh’s use of the poem on Nihongo de asobo—recitations of the poem in regional dialects from around Japan are one of my favorite parts of the show—helped lay the groundwork for the poem’s resurgence.”

To read the entire interview, and see both their translations, click here.

Bob Dylan & Kenji Miyazawa on rain (雨ニモマケズ)

August 13, 2012


Here’s Bob Dylan’s classic 1964 “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”, 

and the lyrics–


“A Hard Rain’s a – Gonna Fall”


“Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?

And where have you been my darling young one?”


“I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans”


“I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard

It’s a hard rain a-gonna fall”

“Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?

And what did you see, my darling young one?”


“I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it

I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’

I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’”


“I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard It’s a hard rain a-gonna fall”


“And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?

And what did you hear, my darling young one?”


“I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’

I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’

I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’”


“I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’

Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard

It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”


“Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son?

And who did you meet, my darling young one?”


“I met a young child beside a dead pony

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow”


“I met one man who was wounded in love

I met another man who was wounded in hatred

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard

It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”


“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?

And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?”


“I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest dark forest

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters”


“Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

And the executioner’s face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly, where the souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number”


“And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it

And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”



And here’s Kenji Miyazawa‘s classic 1933 “Be Not Defeated By the Rain”

(Ame ni mo Makezu), (a poem “found posthumously in a small

black notebook in one of the poet’s trunks”), with the lyrics in the

original Katakana and English–


































(English translation, from Wikipedia)


not losing to the rain

not losing to the wind

not losing to the snow nor to summer’s heat

with a strong body

unfettered by desire

never losing temper

always quietly smiling

every day four bowls of brown rice

miso and some vegetables to eat

in everything

count yourself last and put others before you

watching and listening, and understanding

and never forgetting

in the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields

being in a little thatched hut

if there is a sick child to the east

going and nursing over them

if there is a tired mother to the west

going and shouldering her sheaf of rice

if there is someone near death to the south

going and saying there’s no need to be afraid

if there is a quarrel or a lawsuit to the north

telling them to leave off with such waste

when there’s drought, shedding tears of sympathy

when the summer’s cold, wandering upset

called a nobody by everyone

without being praised

without being blamed

such a person

I want to become

Contemporary Japanese Poetry in Translation

June 20, 2012

[Earlier this month An Online Artifact published a Japanese Featured Artists Column show-

casing some of the outstanding poets writing and publishing in Japan today. A link to the column is here. The introduction

to the column is posted below.]

(from Connotation

Intro: A Snapshot

In contrast to the angst-ridden, gloomy post-war Japanese poetry as exemplified by the leading Arechi (Wasteland) poets Tamura Ryuichi, Ayukawa Nobuo and Kitamura Taro, Tanikawa Shuntaro’s poetry carved a new path and became known for its musicality, its pop culture references, its detachment and, not least, its buoyancy. (For a culture as group-oriented as Japan’s, it is noteworthy that his 2011 retrospective poetry collection in English is titled “The Art of Being Alone” (Cornell East Asian Series)). He writes a kind of ephemeral autobiographical verse with a rhythmic exploration of its sources in jazz music, comics, modern painting, etc. His is not an intellectual but a post-modern voice both shamelessly child-like and ruthlessly detached. There’s an androgyny to his voice seldom found to this extent in the West.

In the hyper-rational culture of the West there exists the mind-set where in order to speak one has to “break” the silence and where distinctions in language are made, it often seems, at the exclusion, even obliteration, of what lies beyond. In the more traditional East, on the other hand—as in the modern Japanese lyric– the act of speaking preserves, or honors, silence as its root. Or in Sugimoto Maiko’s words, “Poetry is a thing that emerges upwards out of silence.”

What Japan’s modern lyric poets offer is more than a critique of modernity—they embody the effort to think outside modernity. If the ethics or essence of Japan is as “a non-accountability organism”, according to contemporary artist/blogger Hikosaka Naoyoshi, and if it is true, as he says, that “power structures of Japan have a sweetness and looseness, with roots in primitive cultures, not in civilization as in China or the West” [unofficial translation], then its poets and artists contemplate the root-world, the non-West world in such a way as to authenticate the reality of the tree in its wholeness, reminding us how, without its unseen roots, the tree falls.

The issue we are all facing– what I would call ‘The West Issue’– is critically a male and female issue. Artists and poets have the incredible capacity to cultivate the third eye, to see the symmetry of the underground or invisible world, not only History as linear ‘male’ narrative but Time as ‘female’ cycles with sources found in non-Western cultures, tales, songs, lullabies, nursery rhymes, prayers, chants, and so on. If the West is the upper world of the tree, the East is the lower world of the roots: reality and imagination; tangible and intangible; seen world and unseen world. To balance these forces in a give and take is what true and enduring art accomplishes.

Offered here, then, by the kind graces of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, is a sampling from the wide spectrum of voices in contemporary Japanese poetry, including Tanikawa Shuntaro, Abe Hinako, Nomura KiwaoTanaka Yosuke, Takahashi Mutsuo, Toshiko Hirata, and Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, along with younger female poets who have come into prominence such as Minashita Kiriu, Hachikai Mimi and Sugimoto Maiko. Allow me to thank all the poets for their permission to feature their poems in this column, as well as to acknowledge the generous efforts of the translators whose contributions (poetry translations, essay, interview and commentary) have been assembled here–they each cannot be thanked enough.

Read more about | Featured Guest Editor: Alan Botsford – Japanese Poems in Translation by

Featured Guest Editor: Alan Botsford – Japanese Poems in Translation

Alan Botsford has published two poetry collections, as well as the hybrid essay-dialogue-poetry collection Walt Whitman of Cosmic Folklore (2010). He is Associate Professor of American Literature at Kanto Gakuin University and serves as editor of Poetry Kanto, an annual bi-lingual journal concerned with the interplay of voices East, West, and beyond.

Jane Hirshfield Japan visit: Feb. 24, 25 readings

2011 Feb.24


Jane Hirshfield Poetry Reading

Date : Thursday, February 24, 2011. 15:00~17:00

Place: Dokkyo University


1. Lecture 15:00~15:40 ’What I found in Basho’

2. Poetry Reading 15:50~16:30

Poetry Reading (including bilingual reading by students)

3. Welcome party 16:30~17:00

Date: Friday, February 25, 2011

Place: Niigata City Hall, reading, Niigata, Japan


Jeffrey Angles, Yosuke Tanaka & Emiko Miyashita reading Feb. 13

2011 Feb.13

Translator, poet, and visiting professor at Tokyo University is giving a talk/poetry reading with the poet Yosuke Tanaka and Emiko Miyashita about translation and contemporary poetry on 2/13 (Sun)


田中庸介(詩人)、ジェフリー・アングルス( 翻訳家)、宮下惠美子(翻訳家)による朗読とトークショーを開催いたします。ぜひご参加ください。
2/13(日) 13:30 開場 14:00 開演
会費 2000円
後援 思潮社

TEL 03-3390-1155




新井高子訳詩集『Soul Dance』(ミて・プレス、2008)
伊藤比呂美訳詩集『Killing Kanoko』(アクション・ブックス、2009)など
多田智満子訳詩集『Forest of Eyes』(カリフォルニア大学出版部、2010)で2009年度ドナルド・キーン翻訳賞受賞。



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





literary Japan updates/websites

JIPS (Japan International Poetry Society) blog:

Ikuta Press (Kobe) website:


YOMIMONO articles about, in The Japan Times & Koe Magazine:

YOMIMONO at Amazoncom: