The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 20, 2009

Best Translated Poetry

The University of Rochester has declared the winners of the 2009 Best Translated Book of the Year award (sponsored by Melville House and Open Letter Books). Needless to say, none of the crime fiction I'm reading at the mo has even figured in the longlist. Oh well.

The winner in the poetry section is Hiraide Takashi (ably translated by Sawako Nawakasu), for The Fighting Spirit of the Walnut. I'm as clueless as the next person when it comes to poetry, and Hiraide's work requires as much concentration as aqua regia. Here's one example:
Continuous thoughts of packaging ice. No matter what I write it melts, even the
address. If and when it arrives, that person will be gone.
Hiraide's poems are not long; they are epigrammatic and terse. According to some reviewers, he is not so much about emotion as about wordplay and linguistic wallops. Not entirely impenetrable, then. Here's another:
Summoning up my last bit of energy, I shall give a gift to your pale doorway. So that it might become your first bit of food before heading over to the other eye. Whirling tides that are sealed in. And the sun with new bandages. Drupes with wisdom.
Hmm. I expect I'll sample his mots at infrequent intervals, but if anyone gets a hold of this little book, please do post a full review and critique.


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