Books | POETRY MIGNETTE

A wealth of autumn events to delight all Tokyo wordsmiths

by Taylor Mignon

The upcoming “Ueno Poetrican Jam” is being touted as the biggest poetry-reading event ever to be held in Japan. About 60 poets have been selected from volunteers to participate, and recognized poets such as Sandaime Uotake, Shigeo Hamada and Ikuo Tani will also be on the bill.

Tani is senior editor of Wasteland, a journal in Japanese of word, music and poetry. He coordinates the monthly “Wasteland Gathering,” a series of open-mike talks and poetry readings every fourth Friday at Tower Records in Shibuya, from 6:30 p.m. In the spring issue of Wasteland you can find Tani’s interview with Hajime Kijima, focusing on the work of Langston Hughes, whose autobiography Kijima translated into Japanese.

“Ueno Poetrican Jam,” Sept. 3, noon-8 p.m. at Suijo Ongaku-do in Ueno (the open-air stage beside Shinobazu Pond). For more information (in Japanese), contact Heartland at tel/fax (03) 5310-2520, or check out the “Ueno Poetrican Jam” Web site at www.3rdeyedisc.com/poetrican/

For information on the “Wasteland Gathering,” call Hoshino (in Japanese) at (03) 3432-3721.

The Embassy of Canada is holding two major arts events in September. Show 2000 will exhibit artwork by Canadian artists residing in Japan, including installations, pottery, photography, printmaking, mixed media, sculpture and painting.

Performance 2000 is a one-day event which will feature performances in two sets by Canadian writers, performance artists, musicians and video artists. Among those appearing are poets Georgia Borsic, Janice Young, Hillel Wright and Daniel E. Naumann; writers Kathy Murphy and Douglas Marvin; storyteller Michael Bishop; and performance artist Andrew Armstrong. (Armstrong’s hilarious revision and deconstruction of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme should not be missed!)

“Show 2000” art exhibition: Sept. 13-Oct. 13; “Performance 2000,” Sept. 15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Embassy of Canada. For information and reservations, fax your name, address and number of tickets needed to (03) 5805-6779.

What the Dickens, the British pub and live venue in Ebisu, holds a monthly open-mike every first Sunday of the month, 4-6 p.m. Michael Bishop, the master of ceremonies, is also a storyteller who combines current events and anecdote in a humorous, effortless manner. The open mike showcases stories and performances in addition to spoken word. Though veteran readers regularly perform, this event caters to beginning wordsmiths — those who are shy or who have never performed — as the participants provide a supportive environment. For more information, call Bishop at (03) 5805-6779.


Global Echo last year organized an event featuring a showing of a film about the Ashram commune on Suwanose island in the 1960s, a video letter from Gary Snyder and a reading by Sakaki. Snyder and Sakaki both feature in an event in Ochanomizu Oct. 7 to promote alternative culture, which will also include live music, DJs and other guests. For more info, call Earth Garden at (03) 5814-1729.


Recent publications

“Over the Oceans: Contemporary Poetry from Japan” is a bilingual booklet of 14 poets; one poem each. You can discover work by Kazunori Imatsuji, translated by Kijima and Suzanne Kamata; Hisako Noda, translated by Kijima and Margaret Mitsutani; Masatoshi Naka, translated by Naoshi Koriyama; and Yoko Shimada and Toshiko Obashima (English versions by myself). These works were originally published in Poetry and Thought, a monthly periodical. Copies are available for 500 yen from Doyo Bijutsusha Shuppan, (03) 5285-0730, fax (03) 5285-0732.

Nagoya Writes, Summer 2000, 40pp., editor: Joe Sichi. This literary journal includes works by members of the Nagoya Writer’s Group as well as nonmembers. Submissions are accepted both electronically and by regular post (with SASE). For information on the theme of the next issue and deadlines, e-mail the editor at josstyx@naa.att.ne.jp or write to Kayaba Plaza 3B1, 2-14-12 Kayaba, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-0086.

Poetry Kanto, No. 16, Summer 2000, 70pp., editors Shuntaro Tanikawa and William I. Elliott, et al. This journal comprises two sides: from right to left, 34 pp. of Japanese poetry; from left to right, poetry in English. Mini-anthologies of works by Sachiko Yoshihara and Harry Guest are presented. A translation of a poem by Hiroshi Yoshino is reprinted here from the out-of-print anthology “Post-War Japanese Poetry,” edited and translated by Harry and Lynn Guest and Shozo Kajima. As always, all serious inquiries and submissions should be accompanied by an SASE and return coupons. Kanto Poetry Center, Kanto Gakuin University, 3-22- 1 Kamariya Minami, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama 236-8502.

SD: Space Design No. 431, August 2000, chief editor Koji Aikawa, 2,300 yen. This monthly journal of art and architecture specially features “Selected Bookworks in the 20th Century,” including a generous number of pages exhibiting the book designs of Surrealist poet Katsue Kitasono (1902-1978). Kitasono cofounded the VOU Club of avant-garde poets and artists, issuing the VOU magazine, one of the 20th century’s longest-lasting poetry and art journals committed to avant-garde principles. He also edited the monthly magazine for the Kinokuniya bookstore chain and designed covers for Hayakawa Publishing’s Ellery Queen series. His unique brand of visual poetry appeared on the covers of the experimental U.S. literary journal of the 1950s, Black Mountain Review.