Poetics of Identity: A Reading by Hiromi Ito and Mutsuo Takahashi
This event brings together two of Japan’s most important and influential poets for an afternoon of bilingual readings and discussion about the relationship between language and identity. Ito and Takahashi will read from their works and discuss them in Japanese, with translation provided by Jeffrey Angles.
Since first attracting the attention of the Japanese literary world with his bold poetic evocations of homoerotic desire, Mutsuo Takahashi (b. 1937) has published over three dozen anthologies of poetry and countless volumes of poetry and literary criticism, earning him a position as one of Japan’s most influential poets. Five anthologies of his poetry are available in English translation, including his infamous and iconoclastic Poems of a Penisist (Reprinted by University of Minnesota Press, 2012), which became a favorite work of Allen Ginsberg and created waves in the United States. His memoirs, Twelve Views from the Distance were published by University of Minnesota Press in late 2012. Takahashi presently lives in the seaside city of Zushi, ten kilometers to the south of Yokohama.
In the 1970s, Ito Hiromi (b. 1955) burst onto the poetic scene, writing about feminine sexual desire, pregnancy, and abortion with a directness that shocked some and made her a hero to others. She quickly became the foremost voice of the wave of “women’s poetry” that swept Japan and was anthologized in every major collection of contemporary poetry. In 1997, she settled in California with her daughters, and since then, much of her work focuses on the experience of being a transnational migrant living and working in a second-language environment. She has won many important Japanese literary prizes and lives outside of San Diego. Her work has been translated in Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Ito (Action Books, 2009) and the forthcoming volume, Wild Grass on the Riverbank (Action Books, 2013).
Jeffrey Angles (b. 1971) lives in Michigan, where he is an Associate Professor of Japanese Literature at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and an award-winning translator who has translated dozens of Japan’s most important modern writers, including Mutsuo Takahashi and Hiromi Ito.