November 28, 2016

Sensitive poet

Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
narrative and translation by David Jacobsen, Sally Ito & Michiko Tsuboi
illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri

In the 1900s, Misuzu Kaneko was one of Japan's most beloved poets. Her poems were lost after Tokyo was bombed in World War II, but rediscovered in 1982, when a student managed to track down Kaneko's brother, who had copies of her diaries. A sensitive and empathetic young woman, Misuzu Kaneko believed everything was alive and had its own feelings, even rocks, plants and telephone poles! Here is a poem she wrote about fish:


I feel sorry for the fish in the sea.

Rice is grown by people,
cows are raised on pastures, 
even carp are fed in their ponds.

But the fish in the sea ---
no one looks after them;
they do no harm.
And yet, here I am about to eat one.

I feel so sorry for the fish in the sea.

Lovingly presented and illustrated, Kaneko's poetry speaks especially well to children in its beauty and imagination.

A gentle, compassionate book.

1 comment:

David Jacobson said...

Thank you, Mary-Esther, for reviewing our book! I'm sorry I didn't see this until now. In case you didn't know, translator Sally Ito is Canadian, from Winnipeg. And her co-translator Michio Tsuboi, though Japanese, read Canadian literature at the University of Alberta Edmonton and has a daughter in Manitoba. We're very proud that this book is the product of a tri-national effort among Americans, Canadians and Japanese!

David Jacobson, author