Over twenty-five years ago New Directions, at the urging of Kenneth Rexroth, published Seasons of Sacred Lust, a selection of poems by a young Japanese writer, Kazuko Shiraishi. Since then the book has gone through several printings and toured around the world, accompanying Ms. Shiraishi to almost any country one can think of, places where she gave readings and participated in various poetry events. Indeed, because of Shiraishi's travels, Seasons is probably one of the most widely-distributed books in the New Directions catalog. However, by now Seasons has become dated. It has been followed by more than fifteen new collections and Shiraishi has matured beyond her early Beat-related work; her poetry has developed an impressive range and depth. Let Those Who Appear contains selections from various recently-published books as carefully translated by Yumiko Tsumura and Samuel Grolmes. The title poem is from Shiraishi's 1996 book which received three prestigious awards in Japanthe Yomiuri Literature Award, the Takami Jun Poetry Award, and the Purple Ribbon Medal from the Emperor of Japan.
About the Author
Kazuko Shiraishi has received the Purple Ribbon Medal from the Emperor of Japan, the prestigious Yomiuri Literary Prize (twice), for her thirty books of poetry.
Yumiko Tsumura is a translator for New Directions.
Yumiko Tsumura is a translator for New Directions.
Read an Excerpt
I AND I
"Hello, it's me! Am I there?" "Yes, this is me" I get a phone call from another me But What shall I answer me
Then I think of that cloned sheep Sheep can't call up and say Hello They don't utter words but What do they feel?
I can see green fields It is I and I Who are there white and lovely (At that point I wake up) It makes me happy to think That I will definitely die and go to the grave That while I am alive I am completely one person, me
Today There are no telephone calls from me to me I have calls from you or him or her Once in a while there are calls from a modern Ulysses an aged Venus a satirical Osiris
I am generous they are Not me nor clones of the gods
WE ARE LIKE FLEAS
We can see the sailboat that's the Flying Dutchman Wandering forever punished by God That was a long long time ago
Anyway we get on the JR Line Get on the subway head for town Then the waves come up to my feet A lot of people turn this way and wave We were waiting Are you Getting on our boat too This is the 21st century bound Flying Dutchman We are the people who choose to wander around Mercilessly pushed to the front already the waves of the era Drench us no choice but to get on Is there Any human being these days that doesn't wander around until The inevitable death comes both soul and body I think I heard A voice like that I wonder where we are going Restructuring and loans knives and hazing The world is certainly making progress The virtual realitythat appears on a PC Tells us by email We bought a box lunch At a convenience store and took a honeymoon to outer space The Flying Dutchman is jumping around Like a bunch of fleas Thought and grief shaking upside down
A BEAR OF THE HUMAN FAMILY
The man was walking through the nursery Oho! we meet again There is no greeting but it is a face He happens to see once in a while it is a bear "We are not friends but we make it a mutual Rule not to violate each other's world" The man always walks empty-handed, carrying no weapon But says he's not afraid of course other employees Carry spray guns "The bear senses my feelings instinctively" Even though someone was attacked by a bear on a nearby golf course and Killed the bear One day when a beaver came and gnawed down the important old cherry tree, too He just said "It came from a nearby river" A family of seven or eight deer who are permanent residents Badgers and and
And today too the man walks through the nursery Slowly slowly with his enormous body Looking at it A bear has added a new line to the myths of Canada Recently a bear of the human family appeared too It's a good phenomenon
THE LAUGHING CRICKET
I met a cricket the other day A hermit living in Seven Caves, Ohio A hermit with a body less than three centimeters long Laughing he said As long as I have a beard it's OK I gave my eyes To the cave several hundred years ago Limping slightly (eyeless) The laughing cricket went inside To the heart of the cave again
A life in the dark when you don't need to see for a long time There's no problem if you're going to spend your whole life there but if you're Going to walk where the sun shine dazzles you'll need A passport and visa and so on do they matter? The crickets Don't especially need nationality, borders, or bureaucrats The cave is cool and it's a good enough place For them to spend their whole life in The hermit was telling me Is there a cave like that If human beings too got to be three centimeters long Would that do it?
THE SWALLOW'S CLOCK
Who will stop time? Who will make time run?
The swallow goes out with a clock on its back Stopping time all by itself making time run But occasionally drops it And cannot pick up lost time
THE PLACE WHERE THE BULL'S SALIVA SHINES
The blue sky which shines in the bull's saliva The majestic appearance of fat sharp arched horns The black tough sexy giant body But what we can see on the inside of the window of the eyes A dark gloomy room that reaches out as far as a hundred million light years There are no sides in the room no front or back no left or right Only an abyss one bull (male) is there Who is made to wander around by the deep absurd fog The wrinkle of indignation suffering and fear Turns to countless white waves surging from a hundred oceans Tense at the same time frozen in loneliness blazing Black red flames when it seems to turn to blood The window of the eyes explodes the sky falls upside down Heaven and earth split left and right shake A flash of the light of a spear that comes in at a slant Right into the middle of the brain
The blue sky which shines in the bull's saliva I, can, not, for, get, that,
No one is allowed to invade the deep interior of the window of the eyes Nothing not even a foot can enter The inviolable room of dignity Of a lonely hero whose fate is certain death
The gods even a prayer is on the outside
Excerpted from LET THOSE WHO APPEAR by Kazuko Shiraishi. Copyright © 2002 by Kazuko Shiraishi. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Fresco A NEW DIRECTIONS BOOK
Selected poetry of Luljeta Lleshanaku
By Luljeta Lleshanaku
Translated by Henry Israeli and Joanna Goodman, by Ukzenel Buçpapa, Noci Deda, Alban Kupi, Albana Lleshanaku, Lluka Qafoku, Shpresa Qatipi, Qazim Sheme, Daniel Weissbort, and the author
Edited by Henry Israeli
Copyright © 2002 Henry Israeli. All rights reserved.