Friday, 23 October 2009

minimal - Poetry came before dawn

It's always great to pick up a collection by Shuntaro Tanikawa, this one again is translated by William I. Elliot and Kazuo Kawamura, the collection is split into three parts, and contain poems which are in three line form, also retaining a minimal feel. There's an author's
afterword.Tanikawa's poems never fail to intrigue me, in their simplicity they can say so much, in the first poem 'Rags', Tanikawa points out that he has nothing to give poetry, rather he is the given, his poetry hovers between nature and desire, emotion and time. A good example of Tanikawa's observations on people, poetry and nature can be seen in the poem 'To Reject', where he observes, nature doesn't reject poetry, only people reject it. Another aspect I like of his poetry is that a simple observation can have a large affect, small activities like laughter after finishing a meal, are things not to be taken for granted.
Most of the poems here have something that  strike me but two seemed to stand out, and if I'm honest I'm not too sure why, but I kept returning to them, 'Amniotic Fluid' seems to conjure up so many striking images, floating somewhere between creation and life, adrift in time, days, now long gone, hints of life before birth, the presence of distant people, the silence of dreams. Also the poem 'Mud', about memory, aging, poetry, where even the light of regret is disappearing. Another favourite is 'A Still Life', a still life on canvas is likened to a native land, being stared at, by hungry eyes, unable to escape the stillness within it's frame.

Poets I'm planning to look at in the future; Chuya Nakahara, Toshio Nakae's 'Time Within a Fish' (really would love to read this, is there already a translated edition?), you can sample some of his poems here, Kou Machida, a great place to sample more recent poems/poetry is at midnight press, Kiji Kutani's poems can also be read here.

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