Presents a collection of poems by Japan's preeminent poet.
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Shuntaro Tanikawa was born in 1931. His poetry has been collected in more than sixty books and translated into fifteen languages.From Publishers Weekly:
Author of more than 60 books of poetry, Tanikawa is perhaps Japan's most well-known and accomplished living poet, and garnered a 1989 American Book Award for the Floating the River in Melancholy, a fully translated single volume now out of print. This first U.S. selected edition, translated by American ex-pat William Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura (who together edit a Yokohama literary journal), draws from 11 volumes spanning five decades of quotidian-based, wryly self-conscious work. While the surface of Tanikawa's poetry in these translations is practically hyper-literal ("I eat loquats,/ to do which/ I have to peel them;/ to peel them,/ I need hands"), the mind behind them is distinctly concerned with the shapes and inadequacies of meaning, and how it can be produced for an audience larger than one. At times, Tanikawa's awareness of his own practice is startlingly frank: "It is not clear what materials and techniques will go into the writing of this composition called `Starvation', and furthermore I doubt that it will stand as a valid composition." Tanikawa is clearly interested in a poetry that is colloquial at its core (he is the Japanese translator of the late Charles Schulz's Peanuts strip), free of traditional Japanese forms and interested in Western culture, though certainly not derivative of Western poetries. His sense of humor ultimately cuts through the questions of translation and cultural and linguistic differences to display the brooding charm that has won Tanikawa such acclaim: "I feel that I'd like being trapped forever/ but the snare rejects me humourlessly,/ pushing me back to the native milieu of people/ where humour is the only refuge." North American readers will find this a welcome refuge indeed.
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