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Wago Ryoichi, Since Fukushima

Radiation is falling. It’s a quiet night.
March 16, 2011. 4:30 a.m.

In the days following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, poet Wago Ryoichi started a Twitter feed. Living just 80 km away from the failed nuclear reactor, he sheltered in his apartment and bared witness to the unfolding devastation. Beginning with excerpts from those original tweets, this book follows ten years of Wago’s writing. The poems consider not just the human toll of the disaster but place the devastation of the land, the animals, and ways of life of Fukushima Prefecture on equal footing. There are poems from the perspective of cows left behind in the evacuation zones, from the soil as it is dug up and buried deeper into the earth to lower radiation levels, and from residents who stayed behind. The book closes with a series of poems written ten years after 3.11. reflecting on the first days of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown. Wago writes from a place of compassion for the world, sharing a hunger for beauty, rebirth and community from the heart of disaster.

'The tsunami came, my students’ families died. That’s the first fact. Fukushima Daiichi Power Station was in meltdown, our town was lost and all the people living there were evacuating. That’s the second fact.' Wago Ryoichi in conversation with Brenda Hillman

Wago Ryoichi is a poet and high school Japanese literature teacher from Fukushima city, Japan. In 2017, the French translation of his book, Pebbles of Poetry, won the Nunc Magazine award for best foreign-language poetry collection. Wago has published many solo author volumes of poetry. Since March 2011, his writing has focused on the ecological devastation of the areas affected by the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power station. His poem Abandoned Fukushima is sung by choirs across Japan as a prayer for hope and renewal.

Ayako Takahashi and Judy Halebsky work collaboratively to translate poetry between English and Japanese. Ayako Takahashi is a scholar and translator teaching at University of Hyogo in Japan. Her most recent publication is a book of scholarship titled, Reading Gary Snyder (Shichosha Press, 2018). She has published translations of many American poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Anne Waldman, and Joanne Kyger, among others (Anthology of Contemporary American Women Poets, Shichosha Press 2012). Judy Halebsky is a poet and translator. She is the author of Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged) (University of Arkansas Press, 2020), Tree Line (New Issues 2014) and Sky=Empty, winner of the New Issue Prize (New Issues, 2010). She has also published articles on cultural translation and noh theatre. She is a professor of Literature and Language and director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Dominican University of California. Ayako and Judy have been working together for a number of years and have previously published articles in Japan on the development of English language haiku.

Wago Ryoichi, Since Fukushima
Translated by Ayako Takahashi and Judy Halebsky
2023. 148mm x 210mm. 96pp.
ISBN 978-1-925735-45-1
Release: February 2023

Publication of Wago Ryoichi’s Since Fukushima was generously funded by a publishing subvention from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in association with the University of Hyogo, Japan.

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