We of Zipangu

We of Zipangu : Selected Poems

  • Paperback
By (author) Mutsuo Takahashi , By (author) Glyn Pursglove , Edited by Jean Boase-Beier , Translated by James Kirkup , Translated by Makoto Tamaki

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"We of Zipangu" is a selection of the work of Takahashi Mutsuo, one of Japan's leading poets. Like most contemporary Japanese poets, Takahashi writes in free verse style as well as the classic forms of the haiku and the tanka, often dedicating his poems to western writers he admires, among them Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Bowles, Ezra Pound, Michael Longley and Ciaran Carson. All these influences contribute to the richness and variety of Takahashi's own uniquely passionate and mystical voice. The artistic violences of movements like Dada and Cobra and of certain extravagantly cruel and grotesque masters of traditional ukiyoe prints form an intimate part of Takahashi's vision - he produces what Theophile Gautier in his essay on Grotesques calls "literary deformities" and other "poetic deviations". With subject matter that is often deeply personal and homo-erotic, darkly mysterious and sometimes grotesque (one is always aware of the shadows that lie beyond one's field of vision), he speaks with a voice that is passionate, firm, mystical and unforgettable in these powerful translations.

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  • Paperback | 156 pages
  • 03 Nov 2006
  • Arc Publications
  • Lancs
  • 1904614043
  • 9781904614043
  • 2,017,203

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Author Information

Takahashi Mutsuo is one of the most prolific authors in contemporary Japan, best known as a formally inventive poet and a master of the traditional poetic forms of tanka and haiku, although he has also written plays, novels and essays. Takahashi was born on 13 December 1937 in the city now known as Kita-Kyushu. He had a very emotionally disturbed childhood, especially during the war years when he caught tuberculosis and spent two years in a sanatorium. In 1962, he graduated from Fukuoka University of Education and moved to Tokyo where he started working at the Design Centre. He published his first book, 'Rose Tree: Imitation Lovers', in 1964 which brought him into touch with the novelist Yukio Mishima who gave him encouragement, although after Mishima's sensational suicide in 1970, Takahashi rejected his work. Takahashi has, to date, published about thirty books of poetry, including tanka and haiku and three collected volumes, and has also made a number of recordings of his works, most notably in the volume entitled 'Voice Garden' (1994). James Kirkup is a professional translator from several European languages. He taught for many years at various universities in Japan and has taken a special interest in tanka and haiku. His translation of tanka by Fumi Saito, 'In Thickets of Memory', appeared in a bilingual edition in 2002 from Miwa Shoten in Tokyo. His co-translator in that work was the haiku poet Tamaki Makoto, who is also his co-translator in the present volume. Glyn Pursglove is Reader in English at Swansea University, from where he has edited the literary magazine Swansea Review since 1991. His particular interests are in poetry of the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, bibliography and textual scholarship. His publications include editions (chiefly from manuscript) of several seventeenth-century poets, including Henry Reynolds, Richard Niccols and Henry Hughes, and essays on, amongst others, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bunyan, William Strode, Ernest Dowson and Basil Bunting. He is reviews editor of Acumen.

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