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Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, Starboard of My Wife

Translated by Takako Lento.

A Japanese couple lives in Germany. The husband is moved to explore their love – and their otherness – in a series of poems where the external and internal landscapes are equally foreign. The displaced narrator’s perspective accommodates the sensual and the mundane, boredom and anxiety, familial stress and personal longing. Starboard of My Wife is a modern take on a 1500-year-old Japanese tradition of poems exchanged between lovers, first seen in Manyōshū (the earliest anthology of Japanese poetry, assembled in 759 AD). His portrayal of the life of an ordinary middle-aged couple is at once analytical, romantic, and existential. This is love poetry for the modern world, as innovative as it is captivating.

‘Yotsumoto’s achievement appears in the ease with which the everyday, the earthy, the dream-like, and the bizarrely imagined all glide into each other, are there with a careful equality. The calm of the poem, the tone of everyday realism with no craving for effect, makes the image of the last two lines so startling: “silence” this “strange animal” brought so lovingly back from the grave.’ Peter Boyle

Yotsumoto Yasuhiro was born 1959. Poet, novelist, essayist, and translator, he has published 15 collections of poetry, including A Laughing Bug (1991) The World Congress of Middle Aged (2002), Afternoon of Forbidden Words, (2003), Prisoner of Japanese (2012), Drip Drop Monotony, Sloppily, Wildly (2017), Novel (2017), Free Solo (2020) and Europe, Europe! (2022). Yotsumoto’s poetry has won the Yamamoto Kenichi Award, Hagiwara Sakutaro Award and the Ayukawa Nobuo Award. He has published two full length novels, The Fake Poet (2015), and The Poetic Diary of a Prostate Gland (2018). He is also a long-time collaborator and friend of Vagabond Press, collaborating on and contributing to as writer and translator and publishing with us Trilingual Renshi, Family Room, Poems of Minashita Kiriyu, Yotsumoto Yasuhiro & Soh Sakon and most recently with Takako Lento Selected Poems of Shinkawa Kazue, and has been also active as an editor and translator bringing out Airborne Particles: a 108 Poet Renga, Stay home on Earth! – an anthology of Covid 19 related poems from around the world, The Poetic Works Homo Sapiens – an anthology of the contemporary poetry from 32 poets in 22 countries, Kid by Simon Armitage and as a literary critic with Shuntarology, a thesis on the poetics of Shuntarō Tanikawa, and a collection of essays To Dear Poets!

Takako Lento translates poetry and prose from Japanese to English and vice versa, her most recent collections being Shuntarō Tanikawa’s Ordinary People (2021) and Shinkawa Kazue’s Selected Poems (2021), both with Vagabond Press. 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.

Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, Starboard of My Wife  
Translated by Translated by Takako Lento
2023. 148mm x 210mm. 64pp.
ISBN 978-1-925735-46-8
Release: February 2023

Author photo © Mihoko Shida

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