Books | POETRY MIGNETTE

A little home for poetry in Shinagawa

by Taylor Mignon

Keiyudoh is a book store specializing in rare art books, with a small gallery in the back. Currently the gallery features an exhibition of calligraphy by Sueo Akiyama, a self-taught artist, whose works have received cultural awards in Poland and France recently. Keiyudoh also publishes the journal Le Carrosse d’Or.

Keiyudoh was founded by Teruo Sugimoto, a former engineer, in the fall of 1999. It has built up a network of repeat customers, largely through word of mouth. Sugimoto started off collecting Akutagawa Award winners, such as Kenji Maruyama and Akira Abe. His taste in the arts extends to Surrealism.

Some rare works command premium prices, like the study on Paul Valery, written by Paul Bonet, translated by Masahiro Kumiya, with woodblock prints by Hitoshi Karasawa — 200,000 yen! Sugimoto’s double role as bookseller and collector can be painful when he has to part with a cherished tome, but he does his best to create a pleasant, salonlike atmosphere for customers, serving tea and chatting with his clientele. They also contribute to his journal. The Vol. 1, Sep. 2000 edition includes tanka by Yoshiharu Yoda, former member of the avant-garde poetry group Vou.

I was directed to Keiyudoh by proprietors of nearby Gallery Oculus during a visual poetry exhibit last year containing the works of experimental poetry pioneer Yasuo Fujitomi and talented young poet Misako Yarita. At the bookshop, amazingly, were a dozen copies of Vou’s journal, one of the 20th century’s longest lasting avant-garde poetry journals and now difficult to obtain.

“Sueo Akiyama Calligraphy Exhibition,” until Jan. 27 at Book Gallery Keiyudoh, (03) 3473-3255, a 10-minute walk from Shinagawa Station. Open 1-7 p.m. For more information see the Keiyudo Web site at www.keiyudoh.com

Top 10 Japanese poetry publications for 2000

1)”Shredding the Tapestry of Meaning: The Poetry and Poetics of Kitasono Katue” by John Solt (Harvard University Asia Center): This book is a great resource for those interested in the history of Dada and Surrealism in Japan.

2) “Nanao or Never: Nanao Sakaki Walks Earth A” (Blackberry Books): Through anecdote, Nanao’s friends reflect on this truly borderless radical of the primitive.

3) “Poesie Yaponesia: A Bilingual Anthology,” edited by Hillel, Wright & Mignon (Printed Matter Press): Pioneering anthology featuring both Japanese poets and foreign poets inspired by Japan.

4) “A Dream Like This World: One Hundred Haiku” by Koi Nagata, tr. by Nana Naruto and Margaret Mitsutani (Kisetsusha): If you’ve been turned off by haiku, this publication will turn you back on with its intensely resonate images and impressions.

5) “Roba no Kichona Namida Yori (From Precious Tears of a Donkey)” by Kazuko Shiraishi (Shinchosha): Shiraishi continues to shine through her surreal imagery and down-to-earth empathy for the oppressed.

6) “Paradise of Poets: New Poems and Translations” by Jerome Rothenberg (New Directions): Contains a poem of Chuya Nakahara taken from his gravestone; this is a rare book showing the author’s many relations with Japanese poets.

7) “Double Helix into Eternity,” by Yuriya Julia Kumagai (American Literary Press, Inc): Kumagai gives voice to what seems impossible to express: the mysteries of birth and gender.

8) “Oriori No Uta: Poems for All Seasons,” by Ooka Makoto, tr. by Janine Beichman (Kodansha; Bilingual Books): There’s something for everyone here, from classic haiku to short surrealist works with enlightening explanation by Ooka and solid translations by Beichman.

9) Cafe Independent, edited by Oliver Kinghorn: Highly personable journal with drawings, reviews, musings and fiction; published in the Irving Stettner/Stroker tradition.

10) Bongos of the Lord bilingual haiku T-shirts (various authors & translators, available from Scott Watson’s Bongos of the Lord press): These are elegant, simple, black-and-white shirts with haiku by Basho, Santoka and Cid Corman on the front in Japanese and English translation on the back.

Honorable mentions go to “Over the Oceans: Contemporary Poetry from Japan (Doyo Bijutsusha Shuppan Hanbai),” “Adventures of a Second Avenue Patroller” by Irving Stettner and “2000 Japanese Poems for the Year 2000” (Stroker Press).

New Internet journal

The first issue of Snow Quarterly, an online journal edited by Owen Schafer, is slated for publication this spring. Each issue will include a variety of writing (poetry, prose and reviews) focusing on a particular topic, by authors from different English-speaking backgrounds. The editor is currently soliciting submissions; all styles and subjects will be considered. The deadline for the first issue is Feb. 15, 2001. For specific submission guidelines, write to: Owen Schafer, 102 Lulys Heights, 14-3 Sumiyoshi-Cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0065 or see the Web site at snowquarterly.tri pod.com