NAGASAKI (Kyodo) A collection of poems by Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died in January at age 93, has been translated into English by a graduate student in New York.
Chad Diehl, 29, a Columbia University doctoral candidate in modern Japanese history, self-published the translated poems in a book titled “And the River Flowed as a Raft of Corpses” in July.
Diehl met Yamaguchi while creating English subtitles for the 2006 documentary “Niju Hibaku” (“Double Irradiation”) in which Yamaguchi was featured along with other double hibakusha.
When Diehl visited Nagasaki in 2008, Yamaguchi gave him a copy of his self-published poetry collection titled “Ningen Ikada,” or “Human Raft.”
Born in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi survived the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima during a business trip and the bombing of Nagasaki after coming home three days later.
Yamaguchi didn’t speak about his experiences surviving the bombings even to his own family members until late in life. He created tanka, which consist of 31 syllables in a pattern of 5-7-5-7-7, for many years as a way of expressing his feelings.
Convinced that the poems better convey the tragic nature of Yamaguchi’s experience, Diehl decided to translate them into English. He lived with Yamaguchi for about a month last summer and asked him about his feelings behind the poems. The two continued to exchange letters after Diehl returned to the United States.
It was no easy task to translate the poems while keeping the number of syllables and rhymes. But Diehl managed to translate all 65 tanka chosen from Yamaguchi’s book and his personal writings.
Diehl said he drew strength from Yamaguchi, who told him, “This is something only Chad can do. With the English translation, messages of peace will spread farther.”
“My father used to say (Chad) understood not just the Japanese language but also his experience of the atomic bombings from the bottom of his heart,” Yamaguchi’s oldest daughter, Toshiko Yamasaki, 62, said. “My father must be happy now that he can deliver his work to the world.”
Eternal City tribute
ROME (Kyodo) Rome will name one of its streets after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Italian news agency ANSA said last week.
The naming is to show solidarity with the two cities as well as to convey to young people a message about the atrocity of the 1945 atomic bombings by the United States, the report said.
The city is expected to select the street to be renamed by the end of this year.
Rome has shown high interest in issues related to atomic bombs, organizing an annual rally in Pantheon Square around Aug. 6, the anniversary of the Hiroshima attack, to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings and to oppose war.
Last April, Rome Mayor Giovanni Alemanno, along with high school students from his city, visited Hiroshima and offered paper cranes — a symbol of peace — to a statue in Peace Memorial Park dedicated to children killed in the attack.
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