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Translated by William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura
ISBN: 978 1 857543 54 4
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 1998
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
When I stroll along this field,
the kind and cunning sky hiding nothingness
behind its back,
I wonder what kind of wind blows in that forest?
from `Sonnet 52'
Shuntaro Tanikawa, the most inventive poet in Japanese poetic history, is also that country's most popular, and arguably its best, contemporary poet. Born in 1931, he published his first book of poems when he was 21, his most recent a year or two ago. This selection from the substantial bulk of his writings demonstrates his versatility and his originality.
One original feature of his work is that he does not write haiku. But haiku-lovers will not be too disappointed, because the poems have the compactness and the points of focus which the haiku form teaches. Original, too, are the ways in which Tanikawa has absorbed and transposed elements of European and American culture for his own distinctly Japanese purposes. He is at times like a philosopher in the game-room of language, at times a child let loose in the great garden of world poetry.
KAZUO KAWAMURA is a Professor of English Literature at Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama.
The poet WILLIAM I. ELLIOT is a Professor of English and American Literature at the same University.
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