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Selected Poems

Shuntaro Tanikawa

Translated by William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • 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.



    Shuntaro Tanikawa
    SHUNTARO TANIKAWA has produced some 60 books of poetry (some of them best-sellers) and won every major Japanese award for his writing. An English translation of his work received the American Book Award in 1988. His work has been translated into 15 languages and ten selections have been published in English. ... read more
    William I. Elliott
    William I. Elliott is Professor of English and American Literature at Kanto Gakuin University, Yokohama.† ... read more
    Praise for Shuntaro Tanikawa 'What poetry and protests have in common, perhaps, is that they are both a means to interfere with the noise of dominant culture. The poetic voice of the Japanese master Shuntaro¬ć Tanikawa allows us to perceive our life and take a break from it, when we are left at a loss to deal with it alone.'
    PEN Hong Kong Favourite Books of 2017


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