Thursday Nov 23

TanakaYosuke Tanaka Yosuke (1969- ) is a research scientist specializing in molecular cell biology at the University of Tokyo. He is also the author of two books of poetry, A Day When the Mountains are Visible (1999) and Sweet Ultramarine Dreams (2008), which display an unique poetic voice, rich in stylistic diversity, humor, and poetic resonance. YOTSUMOTO Yasuhiro wrote on Poetry International Web, that Tanaka is one of the great talents of the new generation of poets. In his work, he “casually introduces elements from the past or from other poetic forms such as tanka, combining them with a 21st-century sensitivity to create something extraordinary which is simultaneously old and new, traditional and experimental, lyrical and critical.”
 
This poem was first published in Japanese in a special June issue of Gendai shi techo (Handbook of Contemporary Poetry) dedicated to poetic responses to 3.11.
 
Note from the poet about this poem: The thing that sustained my heart in the midst of the all of the confusion after the earthquake was, much to my surprise, the piles of books of poetry that the earthquake had scattered all over my floor.  Over the last couple of decades, Japanese society has been peaceful and quiet on the surface; meantime, poetry has grown difficult to understand and even obscurantist, and so society has grown away from it, treating it as something high-brow and unnecessary.  Recent years, however, have seen terrorism, disasters, and now the nuclear meltdown.  As it becomes clear to everyone how brutal and the current situation really is, things that one were seen as unnecessary begin to become the things that comfort us the most—a kind of food for the spirit.  Now is the time, in the middle of all these things showering down upon us, that we should be most grateful for the depths of culture.  Chuang Zi described this as the “usefulness of the useless,” but in actuality, we have been at the forefront of struggling with both the visible and invisible for so long, we should not move ahead lightly.  I feel that the most refined way to proceed is to continue onward with our struggle.
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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.
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叫ぶ芋畑
田中庸介
 
三月九日に母がなくなりました。
三月十一日に地震がきました。
三月十四日のお通夜と、
三月十五日の告別式との間に、
放射能が東京にきました。
これはほんとの話です。
 
四月二十三日に四十九日の法要。
四月二十七日に父が骨折。
おととい四月二十八日に人工の、股関節に
大腿骨頭が入れられる。
これはほんとうの話です。
 
もっとも重要なことは心の安寧である。
祖先、地勢、方位など、風水。
それに――、身体の衛生と精神の衛生、
とかなんとか。
 
持てる者、持たざる者。
女にもてるとかもてない、ということではないよ。
むしろ究極的には、その財産をっ。
財産をどのようにしてよく、活かせているか、
ということが一番強烈、
なんじゃないでしょうかねえ。
 
水面が広がっている。
静まり返ったその水面に、時々さざなみが立つ。
何かが溶け込んでいるのか、
わやわやと陽炎のようなものが走る。
 
春の水だ。
このくたびれ果てた四十男に、春の水なんてものがまだあるものか。
全然。そんなものがあるものか。
 
いやそれでも、なお。
でもなお、これは間違いないかも、
(スプラッシュ、
ほらっ、
春の水だ。
 
おれ叫ぶから。
叫ぶから。おお、おれは
叫びますから。(大丈夫、大丈夫、
ことばがきれないように、こときれないように、
わたしは精いっぱいに
叫ぶ人です。
 
芋畑のようなものが見えている。そいつに、
端のほうから種芋を植えていく
種芋を植えたら水をまいて、水をまいたら
こやしをやって、そうしてそうして
丹精こめて芋を育てる。
 
やっとそれが、それがどんな
芋畑だったとしても、おれの全幸福は
この芋畑とともにある。
 
叫ぶから、叫ぶから。
春の水へ。
 
叫ぶから、叫ぶから。
春の芋のように。
 
おれはひとつの、
世界にただひとつのように、
叫ぶ、芋畑だ。
 
*この作品は平成23年4月30日、「言葉を信じる 春」(日本近代文学館)で朗読されました
 
               
 
Screaming Potato Field
TANAKA Yosuke


On March 9, my mother died.
On March 11, the earthquake came.
Between the wake on March 14
And the funeral on March 15
The radiation hit Tokyo.
This is all a true story.
 
On April 23, we held the ceremony for the forty-ninth day.
On April 27, my father broke his hip.
The day before yesterday on April 28, surgeons capped his femur
With an artificial head, there in the joints of his thigh.
This is all a true story.
 
What is most important is spiritual peace and quiet.
Ancestors, lay of the land, directions, all that feng shui.
And then…  Physical hygiene and spiritual hygiene
And on and on.
 
People with, people without.
This isn’t like having what it takes to get the girl or not.
If anything, like one’s financial fortune, to put it in the extreme.
What can you do with your fortune and live high on the hog?
That’s the question that’s most insistent
I suspect.
 
The surface of the water spreads.
Sometimes the ripples spread across its surface, which has returned to silence.
They run lightly over its surface like heat shimmers
Like something melting into it.
 
Water in spring.
Will there be anything like spring water any more for this guy in his forties, so worn out?
No way, how could there possibly be?
 
But even so, it’s still…
But even so, perhaps there’s no mistake about it.
(Splash
Just look,
Spring water.
Because I am going to scream.
Because I’ll scream.  Look, I am
Going to scream (It’s all right, it’s all right
So the words don’t get cut off, so our lives aren’t cut off
I am the one who will be
Screaming at the top of his lungs.
 
There is something visible, something that looks like a potato field.  In it,
I’ll be planting the seed potatoes starting at the edge
If I plant them, next I’ll water, and after I water
Next I’ll spread the fertilizer, and in this way, in this way
I’ll raise the potatoes as best I can.
 
Whatever kind of potato field
It turns out to be, I will water it, all of my happiness
Will be here in this potato field.
 
Because I’m going to scream, because I’m going to scream.
To the spring waters.
 
Because I’m going to scream, because I’m going to scream.
Like the spring potatoes.
 
I will scream
Like one alone in the world,
One screaming potato field.