Friday Sep 22

HirataToshiko Hirata Toshiko (1955-) is a prominent Japanese poet and novelist. During the 1980s, she, along with ITO Hiromi, emerged as one of the foremost voices so-called “women’s boom” of poetry. Her poetry is known for its directness and black humor.  In the last decade, she has increasingly turned to writing novels, which often feature ordinary people in bizarre circumstances that lead them to question the traditional family system and the spots allotted to them in society.
 
The Japanese originals for these poems were first published in various newspapers in the month or so immediately following 3.11.
---------
JeffreyAngles Jeffrey ANGLES (1971- ), the translator of these poems, is an associate professor of Japanese and translation at Western Michigan University.  He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Japanese Modernist Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and translator of Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Ito Hiromi (Action Books, 2009), the award-winning Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Tada Chimako (University of California Press, 2010), and numerous other works of prose and poetry.  He also writes poetry in his second language, Japanese.
---------
 
 
Aftershocks of 3.11, by Jeffrey Angles


On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake took place approximately 43 mi  off the coast of northeastern Japan.  At 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the largest known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful quakes in the world overall since record-keeping began in 1900.  The earthquake was so powerful that it moved Japan’s main island eight feet to the east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between four and ten inches.
 
The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami, which reached heights of up to 133 ft.  In addition to the quake and the tsunami, the tsunami lead to the now infamous nuclear accidents at three reactors in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.  The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster together formed the costliest disaster in human history, with an estimated $220 billion dollars of damage.  More important, however, was the human cost.  15,833 people were confirmed dead, and as of November 2011, 3,671 people were still unaccounted for.
 
Together, the events of March 11 have been called “3.11” in Japan—a term that echoes the language of the infamous September 11 attacks that changed America.  There is no question that like 9.11 in this country, 3.11 changed Japan.  As it rebuilds, Japan has been forced to ask itself where it has come from and what sort of society it should become.
 
What follows are a small selection of poems produced by three of Japan’s most prominent poets.  As these works show, each poet presents a unique take on the disaster, drawing on different modes of expression and coming to profoundly different conclusions about the aftershocks of 3.11.
---------


どうか


海を汚したのは確かに人間
それは否定できないことだ
さかなは泣いているだろう
貝は嘆いているだろう
でも だからといってこんなにも
痛めつけなければならなかったのか
木々を倒し 家々を流し
多くの命を奪わなければ
気が済まなかったのか
海の居場所は海だけでいい
どうか陸にあがってこないで
 
皮肉なことに
海と大地の怒りによって
悪魔の住処(すみか)が破壊され
海だけでなく大地まで
かつてないほど汚れてしまった
鳥は苦しみ出すだろう
子どもはおびえて生きるだろう
海と大地を汚したのは人間
愚かしいものを建てたのも人間
それは否定できないけれど
どうか未来は明るいことを
 
 
 
Please


It was mankind that defiled the sea
There is no denying that
The fish are probably weeping
The mollusks are probably lamenting
But even so, was there any need
For you to hurt us this badly?
Could you only be satisfied
By knocking down our trees
Washing away our houses
And taking so many lives?
The only place for the sea is in the sea
Please, do not come aboard land
 
Ironically
The anger of earth and sea
Destroyed the home of the devil
And not just the sea, but the land as well
Was defiled like never before
The birds will probably suffer
The children will probably live in fear
It was mankind that defiled the sea and earth
It was mankind that built such foolish things
There is no denying that but
Please, let our future be bright
 
 
 
 
 
 
美しいホッチキスの針


きょう届いた数枚の書類は
ツユクサの花の色をした
美しい針で綴じられていた
灰色の地味な針しか知らない私に
その色は新鮮だった
曇天のように重たいこころを
艶やかな針の色が
少し明るくしてくれた
 
ホッチキスの役目は紙を綴じること
針の色にこだわる必要はないのに
美しい色に染めた人がいて
その針を選んだ人がいて
そのうちの一本が
旅をし 私のもとに届いた
ツユクサを通して
知らない人たちと
手をつないだような気分だ
 
人のこころを慰めるのは
花ばかりではない
油断すると指を傷つける
小さく危険なものにさえ
人はこころを遊ばせる
夕焼けの空 朝焼けの空
空が青以外の色に染まったときも
人は満たされ 立ち尽くす
 
 
 
Beautiful Staples


Some of the documents that came today
Were fastened with beautiful staples
The color of dayflowers
For me who had known nothing but gray staples
Their color was fresh and new
Their elegant color made my heart
As heavy as an overcast sky
Just a little lighter
 
The purpose of staples is to fasten
No need to worry about their color
But somewhere someone dyed them that lovely hue
Somewhere someone chose those staples
And one of them
Made the journey to me
I feel as if I have joined hands
With those strangers
Through a dayflower
 
It is not just flowers
That calm human hearts
Even small, dangerous things
That cut a finger in a moment of carelessness
Can set our hearts at play
When the sky runs with sunrise or sunset
When the sky is dyed any color but blue
We are filled and stand transfixed