From great disaster flows great poetry, and this collection of haiku, collated by Madoka Mayuzumi on her visits to the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and translated into English, offers insight from those who lost so much.

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms, edited by Madoka Mayuzumi.
Red Moon Press, Poetry.

“Blossoms unseen so many perished in the great tsunami,” writes Sonosuke Takahashi, who mourns the loss of family members ahead of what should have been a joyous season of cherry blossoms. Others reference nuclear anxiety, the pain of fleeing lifelong homes or the relief to be found in the banal. “Evacuated days long in the lodge my grandchild sings,” writes Kiichi Yokota.

The poems are arranged in order of the seasons, and as they shift from spring through to winter and a new year, so they change in tone and subject, from raw tragedy to acceptance, positive and negative. “Full moonlight slowly envelopes a depopulated village,” laments Yuka Ebihara, a resident of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture. The town is still struggling to repopulate and rebuild.

Thoughtfully annotated to render them accessible to all, these touching haiku offer sadness and hope in unequal measure.


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