Monday, December 10, 2007

Gary Hotham and Yosano Akiko (& more)

Cover art by Wayne Hogan

This morning I've received notice that one of Gary Hotham's poems from Missed Appointment, #17 in the "Modest Proposal Chapbook" series, has been reprinted in the Mainichi Daily News of Tokyo. If you click on the Mainichi link, not only will you see Gary's insightful poem but also 14 other fine haikus, including Francis Masat's excellent "dusk --" and a gem by this site's patron, Issa, translated by Isamu Hashimoto. Congrats, Gary.

This week also saw the anniversary of the birth of Yosano Akiko. Yosano almost singlehandedly revitalized the tanka form for modern readers. She is one of the premiere poets of that form and to this day remains my personal favorite. I'm happy to say it has been one of my greatest thrills as an editor to be publishing Dennis Maloney's new translations of Yosano Akiko in recent Lillies, with more to come in forthcoming issues. Here are a few examples from recent numbers:


Unable to touch
The hot tide of blood
Beneath my tender skin.
Do you feel lonely
Teacher of the way?
(from Lilliput Review #153)


You came from Saga, near water
Love god of a single night.
The poem you composed
Within the silk bed,
Please keep it secret.
(from Lilliput Review #155)


Listen lord!
Love is the voice of admiration
For violets
in the purple evening.
(from Lilliput Review #157)

Dennis, by the way, is the editor and publisher of one of the finest American small presses in business today, White Pine Press. White Pine has published and continues to publish some of the very best classic and modern Eastern and contemporary world poetry, including recent reissues of work by Sonia Sanchez and James Wright.

On the reading shelf right now are Mary Oliver's House of Light, Roddy Doyle's The Woman Who Walked into Doors, and an advanced reading copy of Manil Suri's new novel, The Age of Shiva. Doyle will be appearing here in Pittsburgh at the Drue Heinz Lectures series next month, which many folks are looking forward to. Reading these two novels at once, I've been struck not only by the obvious differences compared to America, but by the similarities, particularly on how all three cultures treat women. The rituals and rites of passage may differ; the results are the same, all adding up to tragic inequality that one could never have dreamt dragging on into the 21st century. On my daily walk to work, I am reminded of this by a piece of incisive graffiti: "No War But Class War."

So it goes, as the much missed sage would say.

After much resistance, I've been reading Mary Oliver's work on and off over the last year. She is much maligned; one particularly unjust criticism is that she writes the same poem over and over again. It is hard to believe that this criticism was actually leveled by a fellow "poet." It seems to completely misunderstand the vocation that is poetry. I wonder what Dickinson, Willie Dixon, Issa, or Picasso might say to this, all of whom might have the same criticism leveled at them.

This week's sample of Lilliput poems comes from issue #133. Enjoy.

the arrival

you are
going from

~ John Phillips

October Leaves

bleed veined beauty
pure enough
to suffocate art

while we look on
with loosened hair.

~ Larsen Bowker

Shiki wrote eighteen
thousand Haiku: How many leaves
has a willow tree?

~ Robert Chute

Everybody knows that
autumn is a ghost,
haunting us with memories
of things that never happened.

~ Albert Huffstickler

My flesh heart needs teeth
and all of Buddha's koans
will not jar them loose.

~ Mary Rooney

Finally, in particular for those new to Lillie, there are samples from three past issues up in the new archive page on the (also new) website. Check it out.

Best until next time, Don.


Jeffery Skeate said...

Thank you for the information concerning Yosano Akiko in the December 10th blog, including the poems and link to her biographical information. I've also appreciated the Yosano translations by Dennis Maloney in recent "Lilliputs" and have found them particularly striking and well-placed among other high quality works. Very interesting!!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Jeffrey: Thanks for the note. There will be more Yosano Akiko in coming issues. In addition, there will be not one but two chapbooks of poems from the classic "100 Poems by 100 Poets" translated again by Dennis Maloney. The chapbooks will gathered around separate themes, a first in approach to this classic I believe. More soon, Don