Woman of March: Poems

TSUMURA-YUMIKO

by Yumiko Tsumura
Finishing Line Press, 2016

Woman of March gives us a glimpse of Yumiko Tsumura’s childhood Pacific War memories of Japan as well as her life in the US, rich with intimate perceptions, invested with transformative powers, and depicting a life path of discoveries, losses, and reaffirmations. Her power of observation is clearly seen through her  precision in these autobiographical poems.

Today again
the young men died
believing in
mountain climbing

Tsumura’s poems are not haiku but haiku-like, emerging as epiphanies upon white paper. They are a testimony to a life lived in specific, deep consciousness. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Yumiko Tsumura was born and educated in Japan and has an MFA in poetry and translation from the University of Iowa. She has taught at universities both in Japan and the US.  Her books of translation include Kazuko Shiraishi’s poetry collections from New Directions.

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A Japanese Girl Speaks

642Kubo_Mari_Cov2by Mari Kubo
Finishing Line Press, 2013

In her new poetry chapbook, A Japanese Girl Speaks (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press), Mari Kubo “[expresses] the magic in ordinary moments with delicate images and sly humor” (Dana Naone Hall).

Mari Kubo was raised in Hilo and Honolulu, Hawai’i, and began writing poetry and fiction in her youth. She received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and her MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Her poems and fiction have been published at both the state and national levels. She currently lives in Hilo.

How to Live on the Planet Earth: Collected Poems

nanao front coverby Nanao Sasaki
Blackberry Books, 2013

How to Live on the Planet Earth is the most extensive collection of Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki’s work, containing poems from the previously published volumes Bellyfulls (1966), Real Play (1981), Break the Mirror (1987), and Let’s Eat Stars (1997). The book’s final section also features over one hundred pages of new work, written before Sakaki’s passing in 2008.

In his introduction to How to Live on Planet Earth, Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Synder describes Sakaki as “a uniquely free and bold-spirited wanderer, occasional river or mountain activist, singer and chanter, and internationally published poet.” Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, Sakaki grew up in pre-war Japan and served in World War II. In the early 1950s, he began studying English, immersing himself in nature, and writing poetry. In the late 1960s, he began making visits to the United States, around California and New Mexico. At the time of his death, Nagano was living with acquaintances in the mountainous areas of Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

My Postwar Life

edited by Elizabeth McKenzie
foreword by Karen Tei Yamashita
Chicago Quarterly Review Books

My Postwar Life is a collection of new writing from Japan and Okinawa. The collection includes fiction, poetry, and essays by authors Deni Y. Bechard, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, Hiroshi Fukurai, Ryuta Imafuku, Setsuko Ishiguro, Roland Kelts, Mari Kotani,  Janice Nakao, Kim Shi-Jong, Keijiro Suga, Iona Sugihara, Goro Takano, Stewart Wachs, Stephen Woodhams, and Kentaro Yamaki. A few of the the authors, including Leza Lowitz, Shogo Oketani, Tami Sakiyama, Takayuki Tatsumi, and Katsunori Yamazato are past contributors to MĀNOA Journal.

Also included in My Postwar Life is a play by Masataka Matsuda, an interview with the former mayor of Nagasaki Hitoshi Motoshima, photography by Shomei Tomatsu, and a series of scans made from the illustrated journal of a soldier in the Imperial Army.

Elizabeth McKenzie’s story collection Stop That Girl was short-listed for The Story Prize, and was a Newsday and School Library Journal Best Book of the year. Her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the year, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and a School Library Journal Top Ten Book of the year. She has received a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction, which has been included in The AtlanticBest American Nonrequired ReadingThreepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and other literary journals. She was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts/Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artist Fellowship, and is the editor of My Postwar Life: New Writings from Japan and Okinawa, published in 2012.

Lines for Birds

poems and paintingspoems & paintings
by Barry Hill & John Wolseley

Lines for Birds is the result of a collaboration between painter John Wolseley and award-winning poet Barry Hill. The book follows the flight paths and habitats of birds, from the Victorian Mallee to the forests of South East Asia, to Japan and the south of France. (Publisher’s Description)

Barry Hill grew up in a coastal, Melbourne suburb in Australia, and since childhood has had a fascination with birds. He writes, “The whole experience of heading west on foot, out across those paddocks miles from the built up area, was inseparable from a sense of being as free as the hawks above us. Fragility and wildness—that’s how birds penetrated me as a kid.”  John Wolseley was born in England and spent much of his childhood outdoors among native birds and eventually migrated to Australia where, as he puts it, “birds and their songs followed me in a succession of homes and campsites in the scrub.”

(Taken from the back cover: “When a bird arrives, quite literally, into our space, it constitutes a burning moment in time, one which instantly seems to possess a memorable vibration. Birds have a natural, real presence. It is unqualified. That is their power. At the same time, their presence is constantly mediated by our culture, which sets off other vibrations, including spiritual ones.”)

Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa

edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson
University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Modern Okinawa has been forged by a history of conquest and occupation by mainland Japan and the United States. Its sense of dual subjugation and the propensity of its writers to confront their own complicity with Japanese militarism imbues Okinawa’s literary tradition with insightful perspectives on a wide range of issues, including the ongoing discrimination against ethnic minorities in both Japan and the United States and the conflicting desires for Okinawa’s assimilation to, and autonomy from, mainland Japan.

Okinawa’s literary tradition is as deeply rooted in the region’s lush semi-tropical landscape as it is in history. The writers in Southern Exposure paint scenes of the natural world that simultaneously depict beauty, horror, and depredation. Okinawans’ quest to recover their ancient cultural heritage is haunted by war, occupation, and other forces that are noticeably absent  from the mainstream literature of contemporary Japan, all of which are addressed in Southern Exposure.

Michael Molasky is professor of Japanese at Connecticut College in New London.

Steve Rabson is professor of Japanese at Brown University.

Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas

by Oshiro Tatsuhiro and Higashi Mineo
translated by Steve Rabson
Institute of East Asian Studies, UCB, 1989.

Although the novellas differ sharply in tone and form, both are first-person narratives of individual protagonists whose lives are profoundly affected by the U.S. occupation and military presence. The novellas are presented here in translation together with an introduction providing historical background and a concluding essay that compares and evaluates them. The introduction is intended to supply information that will help the reader understand specific points in the stories. For both essays, the author has drawn on Japanese and English-language sources including materials collected in Okinawa during eight months of a 1967-68 overseas tour in the U.S. Army and on subsequent visits to the island.

Oshiro Tatsuhiro was born in 1925 in Nakagusuku, Okinawa Prefecture. He has published numerous books and articles on Okinawa’s culture and history a well as works of fiction and drama. His work The Cocktail Party was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1967.

Higashi Mineo was born in 1938 in Mindanao, The Philippines. His work Child of Okinawa was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1971.