Spectacle & Pigsty

Kiwao Nomura, trans. from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-890650-53-7
“You’re the one./ Unbearably sucking air rasping and gasping... tearing open./ shrieking.... unbearably bare.” That challenge to a reader (or perhaps a ghost or a god or a marine invertebrate) might serve as well as anything else to introduce this first English version of one of Japan’s most celebrated living poets. Nomura commands headlines, and headlines festivals, in his native country for poems that—on the evidence here—succeed through astonishment, shock, and disorder, almost in the manner of Kathy Acker or William S. Burroughs. The opening work casts the poet as “pigsty I/ burning to set an earthly convenience store on fire no reason whatsoever.” Soon afterwards “the crybaby I am” confronts “horripilation of being/ horripilation of being,” confessing, “I feel like scattering my seed”; envisions “tears and flesh mashed to a pulp” as if they were grapes pressed for wine; and pursues, “in a liquid crystal sea,” undulations imagined as “sleepless women... rolling heavy flesh weeping secretions.” Nomura explores his own imagination and discovers the originality of the extreme: “perhaps I’m the first/ poet to write about the perineum.” Gander, a distinguished poet and a prolific translator from the Spanish, teams up with Yoshida (who grew up in Japan) to generate startling, idiomatic versions of a poetry that must be just as discomfiting in the original. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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