Thursday Nov 23

SugimotoMaiko Sugimoto Maiko (b. 1973, Nagano) published her first chapbook in 1998. After receiving an English degree from Musashino Junior College, she worked in finance while trying to write. She quit her job and went back to school to study philosophy at Gakushuin University. Her first collection, Tenkaki (Ignition Time, Shichôsha, 2003) received the Gendaishi Techô journal’s prize for emerging poets.  Her second book, Sodeguchi no Doubutsu (Shirtcuff Animals, Shichôsha, 2007) won the Japan Poets Association’s H-shi poetry prize in March 2008.
---------
RachelCarden Rachel Carden is a PhD student at UC Berkeley in modern Japanese literature.  She also writes her own poetry.  Her research interests include translation issues, classical and modern Japanese poetry, and travel literature.
---------
MarianneTarcov Marianne Tarcov is a PhD student at UC Berkeley in modern Japanese literature.  Her research is about possibilities for social and political action in modern Japanese lyric.  Her favorite poets include Miyazawa Kenji, Anne Carson, Baudelaire, and many others.
---------
 


マリアンさんからのインタビュー 杉本真維子 2012.4

 

1) 詩作を始めた頃のあなたのヒーローはだれですか?その後どの様に変わっていますか?今は誰ですか?

詩作を始めたのは、5歳のころなので、耳から入ってきた言葉、音楽などが多いです。ミュージシャンの浅井健一。映画監督で詩人の園子温。20歳をすぎてようやく、本当の意味で、詩人に出会いました。清水昶、福間健二、石垣りん、井坂洋子、小池昌代、松本圭二。今は石原吉郎を再読したいと思っています。

 

2) 日本の詩の現況をどう思いますか?

2002年頃から若手が発言できる場が増えたように思います。独自の企画をする若い詩人もいます。たとえば、現在、投稿詩の選者をいくつか担当していますが、その中の一つは、投稿終了、声優が舞台で詩を朗読する、という異色のものです。

 

3)  杉本さんの詩作のプロセスについておしえてください。

原型は一気に書きあげますが、推敲の時間が長く、デビュー前の投稿時代は一篇に一ヶ月以上かけていました。そう言うと驚かれるので長いようです。今はそこまで時間をかけていたら仕事が追いつきませんが、推敲に対する厳しさは変わっていません。本を所収するときに、当然、納得がいくまで見直します。以前、推敲しすぎて一文字もなくなってしまったことがあります。それは沈黙という「死」を覗き込むような苦しさでしたが、今思えば、貴重な経験でした。それらの詩は『袖口の動物』に収められています。

 

4) どうして杉本さんの詩には閉じられない括弧があるんですか。たとえば、「ジュウジキリ」には、「(だから/喋ってはならない」という不思議な行があります。括弧を開かれたままにしておくと、語り手の「喋ってはならない」言葉がいつまでも響いて行く感じがします。杉本さんの詩には、この「喋ってはならない」言葉は何でしょうか。

括弧を閉じることで、その部分だけが独立して見えてしまうことに、抵抗がありました。開いたままにしておくことで、その言葉を、前後の詩行へ、上下の空白という沈黙へ、溶け込ませるような、詩のフォルムを作りたかったからです。

「喋ってはならない」というのは、言霊を信じる気持の強さと、言葉への畏怖がベースにあり、詩は沈黙から浮かびあがってくるもの、と考えているからだと思います。言いたくないことを書くのではなく、自分のなかを深く抉じ開けるように書く、ということです。

 

5)  杉本さんの詩には、人間が動物に変身することが大切なイメージですか。「袖口の動物」には、書くことは「動物になる」ことと同じように、変身の経験です。それから、「わらう」には,「白蛇」という印象的なイメージが出ます。どうして動物に興味を持つんですか。

言語を持たないものの「沈黙」に触れたいと願うからです。動物は言語を持ちませんが、言語ではないもので意思の疎通を図り、かつ、私たちと同じ命を持っています。私と彼らの違いは、この言語に関することだけのように感じることがあります。「人間は言葉を持たない」(『光の塔』)という詩行が、意味性を超えて、今も自分のなかで揺るがないのは、彼らの沈黙にまで、人間である私が近づける可能性を、自らの修行のように、見出そうとしているからだと思います。

 

6) 第二人称の「あなた」がまれにしか出ませんが、出るとインパクトがとても強いです。たとえば、「光の塔」の「あなた」、それから「袖口の動物」の「あなた」です。「あなた」という言葉を使うと、どんな相手を対象にしていますか。

私の詩において、二人称が稀、ということをマリアンさんの質問で初めて自覚しました。対象への強い愛が表出したときだと思います。戦後の代表的な詩人・石垣りんさんの作品「夫婦」のなかに「愛と言うものの/なんと、たとえようもない醜悪さ。」という言葉があります。その詩は、ただ徒に、愛は美しい、と絶対視していた二十歳の私に衝撃を与えました。愛の後ろに陰影が差し、輪郭が生まれ、豊かな球体として浮かびあがるのを見ました。私にとって、強い愛とは、憎しみなどの美しくないものによって支えられ、補強され、矛盾のなかで、美しい球体のすがたを持つものです。

 
 
Poetry is a Thing That Emerges Upwards Out of Silence: An Interview with Sugimoto Maiko. Questions and translation by Marianne Tarcov.


Who was your “hero” when you started writing poetry? Who is your "hero" now?
 
When I began writing poetry, I was around five years old, so there were a lot of words and music that I just heard and picked up.  The musician Asai Ken’ichi (b. 1964).  The film director and poet Sono Shion (b. 1961).  Once I passed the age of twenty, I finally encountered poets in a real sense.  Shimizu Akira (1940-2011), Fukuma Kenji (b. 1949), Ishigaki Rin (1920-2004), Koike Masayo (b. 1959), Matsumoto Keiji (b. 1965).  Now, I am thinking of rereading Ishihara Yoshirô (1915-1977).
 

What is your view of the current Japanese poetry scene?
 
From around 2002, there has been an increase in spaces where young people can speak, I think.  And there are young poets creating their own projects.  For example, I currently help run the judging and selection for a number of poetry contribution forums. One of them, which just finished accepting submissions, is doing something a little different: having voice actors perform the poems onstage.
 
 
Would you talk about your creative process?
 
I write up an original draft in a single sitting, but the revision time is long: before my debut collection [Sparktime, 2002], back when I was sending out submissions of my poetry, a single poem would take at least a month.  People are surprised when I say this, so it must be quite long.  If I took that much time now, I would never keep up with my work, but even so, the rigor with which I approach revision has not changed.   When something is going to be included in a book, as a matter of course, I look over it until I feel I can accept it.  Before, it would happen that I would over-revise, and only end up cutting a single character. That was the kind of pain that comes from looking into the silence of “death.” [Translator’s note: In Japanese, the word for “death” and the word for “poetry” are homophones; both are pronounced “shi.”  Sugimoto’s “silence of ‘death’” may also mean the “silence of ‘poetry.’”]   When I look back on that now, it was a valuable experience. Those poems are included in Shirt Cuff Animals.
 
 
Why are there unclosed parentheses in your poetry? For example, in “sign of the cross,” there is the striking line, “(Therefore/it is imperative not to speak.” With the parenthesis left open, it feels as if the words that “it is imperative not to speak” echo on and on without closure. What are these words that “it is imperative not to speak” in your poetry?
 
With closed parentheses, that part alone stands independently, and that produced a sense of resistance.  By leaving them open, I wanted to create a poetic form that would let those words melt into the poetic line as it moved forward, into the white space of silence above and below.
 
As for the line “it is imperative not to speak,” at the base of it there lies the strength of a belief in the spirit of words, as well as a dread of words.  For I think that poetry is a thing that emerges upwards out of silence.  It lies not in writing what one wants to say, but rather in writing as if wrenching open the deep inside of the self.
 
 
In your poetry, is the metamorphosis of human into animal an important image? In “Shirt Cuff Animal,” to write and to become an animal are both experiences of transformation. There is also the memorable image of the “albino snake” in “Smile.” Why is there this interest in animals in your work?
 
It’s because I have a desire to touch the “silence” of things that have no language.  Animals have no language, yet they understand one another with something that is not language; moreover, they have the same aliveness that we do.  The difference between them and me feels as if it lies only in this issue related to language.  In the line “humans have no words” (“Tower of Light”), something that exceeds meaning, something that now still does not shake within me, something that I, a human being, seek the possibility of approaching: until I reach their silence, it is almost a personal practice to search for it.
 
 
The second person “you” only appears rarely in your work, but when it does appear, it has a strong impact. For example, the “you” in “Tower of Light” or the “you” in “Shirt Cuff Animal.” When you use the word “you,” what kind of addressee do you have in mind?
 
I just noticed for the first time that the second person is rare in my poetry from your question.  I think it appears at times when a strong love for the addressee is expressed.  In the poem “Wife” by the major postwar Japanese poet Ishigaki Rin, there are the words, “Love is a thing/its ugliness defies comparison.” That poem shocked me, as a twenty year old who just vainly believed with absolute faith that love is beautiful.  A shadow fell behind love, a silhouette was born: I saw it float up formed into a rich, full sphere. For me, love is supported and strengthened by hate and other unbeautiful things: within a paradox, it takes its beautiful, spherical form.
---------
 
 
光の塔
 
わたしは誰かのために
洗われるからだを持つ
ひたいに緑色のマジックで
数字を書きこまれ
ころされるための順番を待っていた
にんげんは言葉を持たない
ただ迷いのないうでがわたしにのしかかり
すばやく脚を折り、痙攣が待たれる
水を掃く音、尻を冷やすコンクリート、
霧のなかで
空高く衣類だけが積み上げられていたことも
覚えている
(眩しい塔を見たのだ
光は波のように寄せ
あの塔がなんども現れてくる
そこは
様々な体温が甘く蒸れ
いつかだれかの暗い舌に溶けたが
指先を切ったあなたの顔のまえで
血のように出会う
 
 
 
                      Tower of Light
Translated by Rachel Carden
 
 
I, for whose sake
have on the forehead of this
washed body in green magic marker
numbers written out
Having waited just to be killed in their turn
humans have no words
just an arm that does not waver
weighs on me, breaks my swift stride
I wait for spasms
of the sound of brushing water,
concrete cools my backside
in the fog
high in the sky only garments
piled up
remembering
(because I saw a dazzling tower
drawing near like waves of light
that tower appeared so many times
there
broad spread body heat sweet and musty
sometime, on someone's dark tongue melted
you who cut your fingertip, in front of your face
like blood encountering
 
 


 
笑う
 
白蛇のように流れた
くらやみの包帯について
かち鳴らす銀色の篦のような
うすく、清潔な悪いこころ
乱されるように均されて
手首からひらたく黙る
 
そのまま、いまは誰もなにも
わたしに映りこむな
雨のしずくに閉じ込めた
逆さの文字だけを読みすすみ
いつか、出口のように割れてみせる
破片は朝の光りに
なぜにんげんのくずのように掃かれるか
黒い背がいっしんに屈み
ばらばらの顔を丁寧に並べていくと笑う
 
 

 
Smile
Translated by Rachel Carden


About the bandage of the darkness
that flowed like an albino snake
like the scrape of a silver spatula
thin, a pure evil heart
smoothed out, as if chaotic
from the wrist plainly falling silent
just like that, now no one, nothing
reflecting back at me
imprisoned in drops of rain
reading on only inverted letters
sometime, like a gateway breaking into being
why are the fragments, like human garbage
chased away by the morning light
stooping over our dark backs devotedly
carefully line up the scattered faces and smile
 
 
     
 
ジュウジキリ
 
 
テーブルでむかいあう
わたしたちの秘密が
翼を持たぬ、ように
鳥をたべている
真横にぬぐう
閉じた歯のすきま
まっしろな産毛がまだ
飛び立とうとくるう
 
(だから
喋ってはならない
 
男はソファに凭れ
意味のわからない歌をうたいはじめた
わたしはからだをゆらして
皿を洗っている
排水口は
いつも忘れた頃にごおおおと鳴り
 
すべてがもとに
戻される
透明なけものが向こう側へ逃げ
男はうつむいて狩りへ
わたしは
意味のわかる鳴き声を
食器棚に飾る
 

sign of the cross
Translated by Marianne Tarcov


Across each other at a table
as, if our secrets
have no wings
eating chicken
wiping right beside
the gaps between closed teeth
pure white down still
about to take flight going mad
 
(Therefore
it is imperative not to speak
 
a man resting on a sofa
began to sing a song whose meaning is unknown
I sway my body
washing dishes
when I have forgotten the drain
always  calls out rumbling
 
everything is returned
to the way it was
A transparent beast fleeing to the other side
A man turning his face down to the hunt
With cries whose meaning is known
I ornament
a cabinet




袖口の動物
 
 
手暗がりの
よわよわしい視野の中にしか棲まない
動物を、連れてかえり
 
水をのませる
食事を与え
数日後とうとう、名前をつけた
母になるのに覚悟などいらぬと
耳打ちする
きもちのわるい愛情だけで育ったが
動物を手放すと家が消えた
(泣いてもおそいと耳が割れる
 
春になれば
瓦礫の土をわける
ほつれた袖口に運ばれて
「勝手に、
勝手に、あいされたから
もう土しか舐めるものがないんだ。」
ときに文字を真似
あなたが誤読するように
それだけのために生きている
動物になる
 
 
 
Shirt Cuff Animal
Translated by Marianne Tarcov
 
 
It exists just in my hand shadow’s
fragile scope:
an animal, I bring back
 
to let it drink water
to give it food,
to have given it a name at last, days later, to whisper
in its ear there is no need to steel myself to become a mother
to have raised it with only sickening love,
yet the house disappeared when I let the animal go
(weeping though it’s too late, ears break
 
when it becomes spring
to split the earth of debris
to bring to an unraveled
shirt cuff, “Selfishly,
selfishly, I was loved
now all I have is earth to lick.”
To sometimes mimic written characters
so you can misread them,
it lives for nothing else,
the animal I become