Shuntarō Tanikawa was born in 1931 in Tokyo. Since publishing his debut collection Two Billion Light Years of Solitude in 1952, he has emerged as the leading voice of contemporary Japanese poetry. His poems are well known not just among readers of poetry; he has passionate fans throughout all of Japan. In addition to writing poetry, Tanikawa has been active in many other realms of literature. He has translated Mother Goose and Charles Shultz’s Peanuts, has written the innovative picture books Myself and Songs Playing with Words, and has penned the lyrics for the theme song to Astro Boy and numerous schools across the nation. Tanikawa has taken the position of a liberal poet in his political and social outlook.
As for contemporary Japanese poetry, on 3 continents and in some 15 languages the name and poems of Shuntarō Tanikawa come first to mind. At 81, his energy and art continue to bubble out of a poetic Fountain of Youth.
Following the Vagabond Watashi, two more Tanikawa translations by William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura are forthcoming. Their first volume as co-translators of this revered poet appeared in 1975.
Shuntarō Tanikawa, Watashi
Translated by William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kowamura.
2010. 56pp. ISBN 978-0-9805113-6-9