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Shinkawa Kazue, Selected Poems

Translated by Yotsumoto Yasuhiro and Takako Lento

The Selected Poems of Kazue Shinkawa covers the oeuvre of one of the greatest poets of the modern Japan, covering a span of 60 years from her debut book 'Nemuri isu' (The Sleeping Chair), published in 1953, to her latest collection Bookend. It contains about fifty poems from more than ten volumes, including such monumental work as 'Please Do Not Bundle Me', 'Not a Metaphor', 'Odes to the Soil' and poems for children. The introduction by Yasuhiro Yotsumoto follows the footsteps of Shinkawa’s extraordinary jouney as an iconclastic woman poet trying to reconcile Western modernity with her Japanese literary heritage. All translations are new, done especially for this collection by the unique team of Takako Lento, a renowned translator dedicated to modern Japanese poetry, and Yasuhiro Yotsumoto, a leading contemporary Japanese poet.

Kazue Shinkawa was born in 1929 in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Since her first book of poetry, The Sleeping Chair, came out in 1953, more than 30 books of her poetry have been published including many “selected poems” and two complete works. She has also published half a dozen books of poetry for children and compiled many anthologies. For the female poets in Japan, Kazue Shinkawa is an important mother figure, mainly thanks to her co-founding, together with Sachiko Yoshihara, the women’s poetry magazine La Mer, which existed for ten years from 1983 to 1993, helping launch the careers of many younger female poets. With her poems appearing in a variety of media ranging from weekly magazines to national newspapers, radio and TV programs, to serious literature reviews, and many of her printed poems being made into songs and performed by chorus groups all over the country, Kazue Shinkawa is one of the most popular and respected poets in Japan today. One of her readers, Empress Emerita Michiko, even translated two of Shinkawa’s poems into English, which was published in 2019 with a DVD containing her own reading of those poems.

Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, born in 1959, recently edited and translated Stay home on the Earth! and The Poetic Works Homo Sapiens, both a multinational anthology of the contemporary poetry. He has also published thirteen books of poetry, two novels, and two books of literary criticism, including Tanikawa Shuntarology.

Takako Lento translates poetry and prose from Japanese to English and vice versa. Her recent books of translation and critical essays include Tamura Ryūichi, on the Life and Work of a 20th Century Master (co-ed. Wayne Miller); The Art of Being Alone: Tanikawa Shuntarō, Poems 1952 – 2009; Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson (with W.S. Merwin); Pioneers of Modern Japanese Poetry, and Butterfly by Kashiwagi Mari. She lives in the United States.

Shinkawa Kazue, Selected Poems
Translated by Yotsumoto Yasuhiro and Takako Lento
2021. 148mm x 210mm. 96pp. 
ISBN 978-1-925735-28-4
Release date: July 2021

This collection was funded by a donation by VB & Sybille Smith and our 2021 Vagabond Press Survival Fund.

 

FUNDED BY OUR READERS
This collection was crowdfunded via
the 2021 Vagabond Press Survival Fund.

Thank you to the generous souls who gave big and small. This book would not exist without you.

 

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