Writers In Kyoto

English-language authors in Japan’s old imperial capital

Writers in focus

Two Kyoto poems (Mark Richardson)

The poems of Mark Richardson have featured on this website before (here, or here for instance).  This time Mark has agreed to allow us to publish two of his poems from the first WiK Anthology, Echoes.
As well as writing poetry, Mark is also a scholar specialising in Robert Frost. He has written a book about the poet called The Ordeal of Robert Frost (Illinois, 1997), worked on different editions of his writings, and edited ongoing volumes of The Letters of Robert Frost (pub. by Harvard).  Here then, for your delectation, are two Kyoto poems with a distinctly contemporary feel.

Kyoto

Kyoto is an Italian cafe in a Burberry coat.

Kyoto’s a city that beeps, an Egyptian-cotton

T-shirt. It’s a warren of rabbits pounding rice

on the moon, gazing up at itself each autumn.

Kyoto’s an obsessive-compulsive disorder

with a smartphone. Ten thousand children sit

on its station floors. Kyoto’s a safety mechanism,

a forty-dollar melon, a better place to get divorced in

than Tampa Bay. Kyoto’s a pub on a planet,

a light-up, a turn-down. Kyoto’s a salad bowl

fashioned in 794, dressed in vinegar and silk.

It’s a gold medal sleeper, a white-gloved circuit rider––

and an upholstered cop with his hanko sine qua non.

 

The Day The World Became Explicable

Well, on my first day at the shrine, of course.

Such a shame. Even the curtains loitered with intent.

There are ten thousand ways to endure the world.

I developed legs and walked out to the cape;

the sea was a pea-green, “unrhymed sonnet”––

which made about as much sense to me

as road rage. The trains depart at daybreak.

No one asks what the destination is.

We had it all––music, funny cuisine, hats,

boys and girls studying philology at night school,

and an enclave of Spanish cats in Palmyra.

After so long, so long traveling alone together

on God’s green earth, only Satan has his champion.

Anyhow, it’s a good day for laundry in Kyoto.

Writers in focus

Island of Serow (Amy Chavez)

ISLAND OF SEROW  
By Amy Chavez

MAINLAND-SEROW

Japan is known for its cat islands where the resident strays can outnumber the humans living there. There is also a rabbit island populated by cute cavorting rabbits. I’ve even been to an uninhabited island in the Seto Inland Sea where wild deer and pheasants run amok. But nothing could have prepared me for what I found on Goat Island.

I had heard about Goat Island from some locals on Kitagishima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea. “Sometimes I can see the goats walking across that sandbar at low tide,” said a venerable ojiisan while pointing his crooked finger to an outcropping of rocks a few kilometers away. He was sitting on an equally ancient tree stump that had been uprooted and brought on shore by the last typhoon.

We were on the opposite side of Kitagi Island’s Chinohama, or “Blood Beach,” where in the 1185 Gempei War, when the Heike clan lost the great sea battle of Dan’no Ura against the Genpei, the dead Heike warriors washed up on these shores. The souls of the fallen Heike are said to still haunt some of these islands in the Inland Sea.

“You’ve never been there?” I enquired. “No interest,” he said and dropped the subject.

I felt a challenge presented before me. I guessed the sandbar to be about four kilometers away, and I find it very difficult to turn down anything that involves goats.

I had raised a couple of goats when I was a child in the U.S. and I’ve found myself falling for them more and more the further away from childhood I get. Oh, those long floppy ears and slender legs! And who doesn’t marvel at the way they suppliantly kneel when grazing?

A few days later, I was watching cute goat videos on the Internet at home and one of those Amazon ads came up on the side menu selling inflatable kayaks for just 20,000 yen. Ooooh, just what I needed to get to Goat Island!

The price was a promotion, only good for the next 24 hours, after which they’d return to the original price of over 30,000 yen. According to the Amazon website, there were only two kayaks left in stock and I was being informed, in bold red letters, that three other people were currently browsing the same product.

Click–the kayak was mine! I also ordered some goat cheese to celebrate my impending journey since the order confirmation promised me free shipping on any additional goods.

While I waited for my provisions to arrive, I got deeper and deeper into goat. I sent an endorsement to Gary the Goat, who is running for prime minister of Australia (via his Facebook page) and I read up on Japan Railway’s goat employment, and how they were managing to use the ruminants to tame the weeds along the train tracks.

The very next morning, while working through a Wikipedia article about ungulates, I heard the delivery man in my genkan: Ohayogozaimasu! My Amazon order had arrived!

As excited as I was about my kayaking trip, I felt a lingering sense of trepidation brought on by some dark incidents in my past. You see, although I love animals, I had been physically assaulted by them before. The first time was as a ten-year-old when a farm dog bit my leg while I was riding my bicycle.

I am blond-haired and blue-eyed, but I had never thought of myself as being particularly attractive. Not until the second abominable episode, that is.

This one involved a Saint Bernard. I was walking across a snowy field when this ponderous creature came bounding towards me out of nowhere. I really do like dogs, so I was not afraid and besides, Saint Bernards are not vicious animals. The slobbering mastodon knocked me down on to the ground and started licking my face. I laughed as I found this extremely funny. But when I tried to regain my footing, I realized I was pinned down and could not move–and the dog was humping me. Luckily, the owner was not far behind and he just managed to pry the beast off me. Since the owner was obviously horrified, and apologized profusely, I did not press charges.

As an adult, I once befriended a cow in the field next to our house. After a few minutes of innocent scratches behind the horns, I noticed he was actually a young bull–and extremely excited. Thank god there was a fence between us. Ever since that day he would run to greet me at the fence whenever I walked out of the house. Unrequited love, I supposed.

I’m not sure why animals find me so attractive. Do you think it’s my pheromones?

Then, rather foolishly I admit, I posed in front of the balls of the 15-meter Big Merino statue in Australia. It was just a joke, but after I posted the photo to the Internet, it went viral. From then on, my reputation among sheep was cemented. I stay away from sheep now. Or at least make sure there is a good strong fence between us.

These days I am more cautious around animals. I am careful about my demeanor and I watch what I wear. In Japan, you don’t come across large animals very often but I knew a prudent approach to Goat Island was required.

I set up the inflatable kayak, packed provisions for a few days and a tent. I also took a solar charger for my cell phone. I boarded the ferry to Kitagi Island and launched from the same beach where I’d met the old man, as this was also the closest point to Goat Island.

It took me the afternoon to kayak to the rocky outcropping and nigh upon the coast I could see it was densely wooded and almost entirely surrounded by rocks. If it hadn’t been for the sand bar, I wouldn’t have had a place to land the kayak at all.

Pulling the boat up onto the sand, heikegani crabs frantically dispersed under my feet. I was happy to see them as it is rare to see this type of crab these days. They’re said to bear the visages of the fallen Heike warriors.

Next, I heard a whistling snort from the other island residents. I could see them huddled together looking at me from a slight rise in the forest. It appeared to be a small herd, perhaps a family.

And they were adorable: little black ears, straight but smooth horns of the same ear length, and a thick dusky coat with a whitish ruffle around the neck and a black line tapering down the ridge of their backs. But while they acted like goats, there was something odd about that snort.

That’s when I realized they weren’t goats at all, but Japanese serow, or kamoshika. These animals, sometimes called goat-antelopes, were nearly hunted to extinction. Since 1955 they have been protected. While the head is like a goat’s, their body looks more like an antelope. They have big, black snouts. With these large soft noses, they sport the rock star looks of the capybara.

The older serow, quite thankfully, ignored me. One particolored elder did fix his gaze on me for an uncomfortably long time, but I wasn’t about to give him the time of day.

And there were babies. The kids were wild with joy at my arrival and capered in front of me in ebullient play. As it was getting late, I decided to pitch my tent just above the high tide mark on the sandbar and get a good rest after an exhausting afternoon. I also wanted to lay low and not upset the herd too much on the first day.

That night, while the tide lapped up close to my tent, I could hear serow noises outside. I looked out the tent flap and spied some serow in the moonlight–dancing. It could have been a mating ritual for all I knew, but on hind legs, in pairs, they locked heads and horns and parried forward and backward. It was an agile, delicate maneuvering, among whispering grunts. I didn’t dare leave my tent to get a closer look, just in case it was a mating call.

The next morning I sat on the beach and powered up my cell phone but there was no Internet service on Serow Island. That’s when I noticed the particolored bull staring at me again, through the thistle this time, trying to insinuate himself into my thoughts. I snapped his picture but otherwise ignored him.

Meanwhile, the kids were already at my tent door, pawing to get in and play. I proffered a bit of my goat cheese and was amused at their curiosity in finding something so exquisite in the familiar.

That day I observed the serow, carefully documenting their social behaviors in a notebook and taking images with my cell phone. The kids spent their time skylarking while the self-possessed elders led a languid life of chewing their cuds (curiously, always facing the mainland as if there was some answer to their ruminations out there).

They sustained themselves by nibbling the foliage of young trees, scarfing the barks of older trees and ingesting the occasional adventitious morsels such as mikan oranges that washed up on the sandbar among other rubbish of the Inland Sea. They drank from a spring on the leeward side of their tiny island.

In the distance, the Seto Ohashi Bridge loomed, the occasional cargo ship churned past and more frequent ferries trundled back and forth between the islands and the mainland, never veering from their stayed routes.

The second night, I watched the serow dance again, not daring to leave my tent. This time I glimpsed some hitodama, those ghostly fire balls, hovering in the air above the animals. I fell asleep listening to the soft whistling yet plangent blows of mating serow.

The adult ruminants seemed to have adopted me into the herd in a certain capacity–as baby sitter. I was good for their kids and allowed the adults to do more of their indolent mastication exercise. Devoid of cupidity and desiderata, the serow hadn’t a care in the world! It was, perhaps, an ideal life.

************************************

Some time passed and although I was comfortable on this peaceful patch of world, calm with no Web or social media connections, I knew it was time to end my sojourn on Serow Island. I had two kids of my own by now, and the old particolored serow didn’t care about me anymore. The kids, both male, were going to get big and smelly soon. I didn’t want to leave the kids, but I knew they’d be scoffed at on the mainland. People would tease them and call them satyrs. Besides, why would I want to lure them away from an already perfect world?

The kids lined up on the rocks whickering at me as I slipped away, my own two standing out from the young herd with their lighter hair and bushier coats. I left this charming land of ruminating reveries with tears in my eyes.

I paddled until I reached Kitagi Island. But I was surprised at what I found upon my return. The island had been abandoned and the houses were overgrown with weeds. There were no people and, more surprisingly, no cats, rabbits or other strays. All remnants imputed to an aeonian civilization were gone.

I fished out my cell phone and turned it on. The case made a loud cracking sound and the white plastic turned yellow in an instant. My hands started to tremble and I realized how terribly wrinkled they had become–I’d turned into an old lady!

I looked out towards Serow Island. The Seto Ohashi Bridge still loomed on the horizon. But there were no cargo ships and no ferries plying back and forth. And Serow Island had vanished.

My phone was useless but my photos were still intact! I frantically fumbled with my crooked fingers until I found a selfie I’d taken with my kids. They were so cute, wearing those silly Heike masks they’d found washed up on the beach one day.

Writers in focus

Novel extract (David Joiner)

David Joiner, whose talk about promoting his first novel was well received last year, has kindly allowed us a sneak look at his current work in progress. This follows his time in Vietnam, since when he has moved to Kanazawa and married.

David writes: “Attached is the beginning of an untitled novel set in Kanazawa, which I’m hoping will be about an expatriate’s attempt to untangle himself from modern life in Japan and instead dedicate himself fully to a more traditional existence, putting him in conflict with his Japanese wife and others whom he’s close to. (“It needs a lot of work still. And it may not end up being my final choice of an opening for the novel – or may not appear at all in the book once it’s finished (if it ever is). But this is what I have now, along with a few other finished and unfinished chapters I’m playing around with.”)

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Chapter 1

Falling snow muted the wail of the ambulance and the illumination of its red emergency light. Leaning against the windowsill and looking outside, Emmitt couldn’t make out anyone in the vehicle, not even the driver in the near window. The ambulance’s interior was brightly lit, indicating that paramedics were working on a patient they were transporting. Peering through the heavy snowfall, Emmitt still saw no one inside, however.

The ambulance dissolved in the snow. Along the Sea of Japan, he thought, over the course of the long winter, February was the whitest month.

Through the window, a Japanese man in a heavy winter coat hurried in the direction of the far-off mountains. The man huddled against the cold beneath an umbrella covered in snow, its edges crumbling and falling to the undetectable sidewalk. Under the blurred streetlights, the scene looked like a Hiroshige woodblock print set in modern Kanazawa.

When the man was gone, what remained was a reflection in the window of his wife, Mirai, and his mother-in-law cooking dinner behind him. He watched Mirai until his father-in-law called out to him: “Your new house will be cold on nights like this. I expect you’ll want to come back and stay with us.”

He lay on the sofa facing the TV. He was wrapped in a blanket, unwilling, apparently, to admit that his own house was freezing.

The evening news had just come on. The main story was the betting scandal in sumo. Yesterday it had infuriated him, but today, hearing that the March tournament in Osaka had been cancelled for the first time in 65 years, he seemed reconciled to worse. Hearing this disappointment over a sport he loved softened him slightly.

“It isn’t our house yet,” Emmitt said, unsure if his father-in-law was listening. “But if we get it, we’ll have the renovators make sure it’s insulated enough.”

“Let’s just hope we can afford it,” Mirai said from the kitchen, “Eiheiji should hire them. Those temple rooms are uninhabitable in the winter.”

She was referring to photos of a temple in Fukui prefecture where Emmitt had suggested they travel to by train and stay the following weekend. Eiheiji offered Buddhist meditation classes and lectures on Buddhist life. His suggestion had quickly become something of a joke between Mirai and her parents.

“Are you back onto Eiheiji?” his mother-in-law said, scooping cooked rice into bowls. “A weekend there sounds nice, but it seems like a waste of money. Why not go to Daijoji instead? Their Buddhist meditations and lectures are free, and in better weather you could even walk there from here.”

“I want to spend a night or two in a temple,” Emmitt said. “Daijoji doesn’t offer accommodations.”

“But why spend the night? Isn’t the morning and afternoon enough?”

“We’d get something more by staying there. It would be a unique experience for us. Especially in the winter.”

Her mother turned to Mirai, who was wrapping a short towel around the neck of a ceramic saké decanter that she’d heated in boiling water for Emmitt and her father. “Are you interested in Buddhist meditation and lectures?”

“Not especially,” she said, and then laughed. “I guess it’s always nice to see someplace different, but I’d prefer to visit in the spring or summer.”

“I may be too busy then,” Emmitt reminded her.

She smiled without looking at him. “The house isn’t ours yet.”

She brought the towel-wrapped decanter to the dining room. Emmitt helped her set the table.

“Dinner’s ready,” his mother-in-law called out.

The four of them sat down in their seats. Placing their hands quickly together, they said in unison, “Ittadakimasu.”

The table was quiet for a minute or two and only dinner sounds and the TV announcer’s voice could be heard. Emmitt’s father-in-law stopped eating to watch a reporter discuss the robbery of a convenience store near the elementary school that Mirai and her younger sister Akiko had attended. Two high school students had been caught. Mirai and her mother turned their attention to the TV, too, as the reporter related that the boys had threatened the convenience store employees with knives and made off with less than what it would cost Emmitt and Mirai to spend the weekend at Eiheiji. The three of them agreed that it was stupid of the boys to have ruined their lives over what amounted to less than $200.

“If they got part-time jobs, they could have earned that much together in a day,” Mirai remarked. “Now that they’re in jail, I wonder if they regret what they did. I’ve always wondered about people like that. If they could go back to the moment they stood in the convenience store doors, would they go inside and do the same thing? Maybe they’d think they’d have better luck the second time.”

“Kids their age always focus on now,” Emmitt said. “I doubt they gave much thought about the consequences of getting caught.”

Her father turned to Emmitt and stared at him. He was chewing strangely, as if he’d just broken off a front tooth, but then Emmitt realized that his mouth was only twitching. He seemed either angry or terribly sad.

“Why do you need to spend two days in Eiheiji?” the old man said.

Emmitt wasn’t the only one surprised by the return to their earlier conversation. Mirai and her mother both laughed at the clumsy question. But Emmitt’s father-in-law wasn’t to be put off.

“Do you plan to become a monk one day? If not, it sounds like the dream of a young man pretending he has no responsibilities, and I have to agree with mother – it’s a waste of money. Of course, if you were still working neither of us would mind.”

“Perhaps you should be more circumspect,” his mother-in-law added, “especially considering your financial situation. Mirai has a stake in what you do, too, remember.”

Emmitt poured his father-in-law a cup of saké, then filled his own. Emmitt had given the cups to him on his birthday, bought during a trip with Mirai to Kurashiki and the Inland Sea last year. The cups were examples of bizenyaki pottery and more expensive than they probably could afford. Mirai had divulged the price to her parents when they’d opened the gift box. Her father was grateful for the gift. No one had complained then about the money Emmitt had spent.

“I haven’t officially quit my job. But even if I do, I’m salaried until the end of March,” Emmitt said. “That’s almost two months of getting paid to do nothing. But I’d rather not do nothing. I’d rather look for some way to improve myself.”

“I still don’t understand why you want to quit. It’s good money, and teaching at university is a respectable job.”

“They’re going to let me go next year anyway. Foreigners aren’t eligible for tenure at the university, and once my current contract ends I’m on my own.”

“But you have another year on your contract,” his mother-in-law said. “You could easily parlay that into a position somewhere else.”

“I’ve said it before, I’m not interested in teaching English in Japan. I feel like I’m wasting my life trying to forge a path forward.”

“If you don’t move forward, do you propose to move backward?”

Emmitt held his father-in-law’s gaze for a moment, until the latter glanced at his saké cup and reached for it. How could he tell his father-in-law that it was a more interesting question to him than he might guess? Finally he said, “I would if I could.”

His mother-in-law spoke quickly. “Even so, as Father said, your salary is good, and working at a university is considered fine work.”

“Maybe for others, but not for me. Five years is long enough for me to know.”

Mirai feigned absorption in the TV news while she ate and didn’t return her mother’s doleful stare. His father-in-law, his mouth still twitching, grabbed the remote control and turned off the TV. “Is there nothing but bad news in the world?” he said, dropping the remote on the table.

Mirai continued to look at the blank screen, then returned her attention to her food, her head hanging down.

The room fell silent in the way the snow was silent. Something cold was falling around Emmitt and made him wish for its cessation followed by warmth. But Kanazawa winters were long and cold, and it was only the beginning of February.

He thought their dinner together would have a more celebratory air, as the machiya, which was a further commitment between he and Mirai, and a lifelong commitment to Kanazawa, would soon be theirs to move into, but something heavy hung in the air. Perhaps it was only the result of a particularly hard winter. Or maybe his in-law’s worry about their future went deeper than he realized.

It was hard to argue with his in-laws, who had promised to pay a quarter of the machiya’s renovation costs as a wedding present, and then co-signed on their loan application, even though they didn’t approve of the investment. The house was a mid-Meiji period merchant house, built nearly 120 years ago, and located within walking distance to the train station. It needed much work. They had negotiated to lease the house for fifty years at an extraordinarily low rate, but the renovations, which they were free to undertake, were expensive. It had belonged to the family of a successful fishmonger and included two enormous storehouses called kura. The renovators would need several months to complete the work. Emmitt and Mirai were supposed to sign the lease tomorrow and enter into negotiations soon after with the renovation company. Emmitt and Mirai had talked about turning the house into a small inn.

His in-laws had grown up in machiyas. Mirai and Akiko had, too, until her parents had enough money to tear it down and build a new house, which they did twenty years ago, when Mirai was nine or ten. That house now looked much older, and from the outside it begged a thorough cleaning and a few more layers to make it appear sturdier. To Emmitt it was an aluminum box with windows. Too often, it seemed, that was what modernity meant in Japan.

Mirai’s phone rang, breaking the silence. She looked at Emmitt while listening to the caller, whose voice he could hear but not understand. In Japanese so polite he hardly understood what she was saying, she thanked the caller for phoning and promised that now was a fine time to talk, then excused herself to another room and shut the door.

“Who was that?” his father-in-law asked, but his mother-in-law didn’t know and neither of them expected Emmitt to answer. But Emmitt had an idea of who it was.

“Hopefully it’s the institute I applied to,” he said.

“For a job?”

“No, to study traditional architecture and craftsmanship.”

“Oh, yes, I remember,” his father-in-law said. “More bad news, I wonder.”

As if embarrassed by the insult of this pessimism, Emmitt’s mother-in-law reached across the table to refill Emmitt’s cup and then her husband’s.

Mirai returned to the table a few minutes later.

“It was the school, wasn’t it?” Emmitt said.

She nodded. “They suggested you apply again next year if you’re still interested.”

Her parents asked what the matter had been. Both of them thought it was because of his limited ability to read and write in Japanese.

But no, she said, his application to a local architecture university had been turned down because he had applied without taking the normal entrance exam, which technically didn’t guarantee rejection but was highly uncommon. They were sufficiently impressed with his degree from America and his work history in Japan, but not enough to take him on such short notice. The only surprise about the rejection was that he’d been encouraged to apply in this way, relying on the influence of a Dean, an old family friend, who had promised to get him accepted and insisted that he not waste his time with a conventional entrance exam and application.

The three of them turned to Emmitt as if to see how despondent the news made him. He smiled and shrugged. He was slightly disappointed, but not at all despondent. He had expected the rejection, in fact, and even by late December, thinking he would soon quit teaching, had already started considering “a path backward.” He had even taken a first step down it, with Mirai’s help and guidance, but neither he nor she had shared this with her parents. There had been no need.

His in-laws wore on their faces the despondency that Emmitt refused. Their reactions might have angered him if they hadn’t struck him as so funny. For all their worry and lack of confidence in him, and their criticism over his ability to support Mirai, he felt completely in control of his fate. He also reminded himself that he would soon move out of their home and into one he would share only with Mirai, assuming everything went smoothly with the lease-signing tomorrow night. This gave him all the patience he needed.

Mirai stepped into the kitchen to refill and reheat the sake decanter. Her father needed him to drink with, and Mirai and her mother were usually only good for a single cup, though if given a choice they would drink plum wine and soda, not saké. He imagined it would be for this that his father-in-law would most regret their moving out.

“What will you do now?” his father-in-law said, leaning back in his chair and resting his arms on the postprandial mound of his stomach.

Emmitt answered him quickly. “First I need to make reservations at Eiheiji. The webpage I was looking at warned that only a few rooms were still available.”

No one responded to this. He knew they were referring to “after the rejection” and not “after dinner.” He guessed, too, that they knew he knew.

As always once the meal was over, or even before everyone was finished, his father-in-law reached for the remote and turned the TV back on. Holding the remote in one hand and the saké bottle together with his bizenyaki cup in the other, he walked back to the sofa and sat down.

Emmitt was thankful for the noise. He was tired – not of being asked about the future, but of not being asked about a future he’d decided on, a future no one but he seemed to agree with.

© 2016 David Joiner

Writers in focus

Poems by Preston Houser

Here are four poems of Kyoto poetaster and gadfly shakuhachi Master, Preston Louis Houser, selected by a former writer in Kyoto, Fil Lewitt:

 

preston houser 2015

LAMENT

air and earth the academy
fire and water the gurus
ether and gravity the lessons
authentic education
for saintly and stupid alike

mountain or pretense
come off it
amounts to the same thing
get moving

* * * * *

Keeping Close to the Horizon

Blind in one eye
Deaf in one ear
Counting the rhythm of far and near

Lame in one leg
and left to hop
Close up shop
And learn to beg

* * * * *

“Corrosive Causalities”
A way to look upon the world
no objects          no desires

How to map the gaps in the sky
no doubt           no dark

Learning how not to fall then falling for it
no words           no wonder

Epidermal demarcation destroyed
no sex                no fear

Even self confidence is a “con”
no rejection       no ignorance

Exchanging one cage for another
no vows            no bars

I only know where I am when I’m lost
no here               no way

* * * * *

“blah blah blah”
Meanwhile life goes on…

No cosmetics to camophlage
no beard to brook
the scorn the bliss

Inanities all

* * * * *

animal mist moving
through the material world
manifest as music
thus thou art

* * * * *

And here’s an extra one by former Kyoto poet (33 years), now living in Bangkok: Fil Lewitt:

What’s the Matter?

toe in the water
inch of life
what do you get?
lots of strife

most of what you do,
completely unintended
the problem is,
can’t be amended

no matter what you try
there’s often no alternative
sometimes things are crummy,
sometimes they’re superlative

when all is said & done,
you’re gone and simply one

Writers in focus

Book announcement (Allen S. Weiss)

News of a forthcoming book by WiK member, Allen Weiss, who was recently in Nice at the time of the terrorist atrocity there.  Luckily he was nowhere near the events, though he witnessed some of the great commotion going on.

Meanwhile, Allen’s latest book is making its way through the final stages of the publishing process (though not available yet)…

Jacket Image
216 × 138 mm
224 pages
Hardback
9781780236421
60 colour illustrations
01 Sep 2016
  • £18.00

The Grain of the Clay Reflections on Ceramics and the Art of Collecting Allen S. Weiss

People collect to connect with the past, personal and historic, to exercise some small and perfect degree of control over a carefully chosen portion of the world. The Grain of the Clay is Allen S. Weiss’s engaging exploration of the meaning and practice of collecting through his relationship with Japanese ceramics. Weiss unfolds their world of materiality and pleasure and the culture and knowledge that extends out of their forms and uses.

Japanese ceramics are celebrated for their profound material poetry, especially in relation to the natural world, and they maintain a unique place in the history of the arts and in the lives of those who collect and use them. The Grain of the Clay deepens our appreciation of ceramics while providing a critical meditation on collecting. Weiss examines the vast stylistic range of ceramics, investigating the reasons for viewing, using and collecting them. He explores ceramic objects’ relationship with cuisine as an art and as a part of everyday life. Ceramics are increasingly finding their rightful place in museums and Weiss shows how this newfound engagement with finely wrought natural materials might foster an increased ecological sensitivity. The Grain of the Clay will appeal to the collector in every one of us.

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Allen S. Weiss teaches in the Departments of Performance Studies and Cinema Studies at New York University. He is the author and editor of over forty books in the fields of performance theory, landscape architecture, gastronomy, sound art and experimental theatre, most recently Zen Landscapes (Reaktion Books, 2013).

Writers in focus

Novel success (Marianne Kimura)

WiK is delighted to announce a breakthrough for one of our members, Marianne Kimura, whose piece from her first novel was featured in the first WiK Anthology.  Here she tells how she managed to land her contract, thanks to the Japan Writers Conference.

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The Hamlet Paradigm

The soon to be published WiK novelist, Marianne Kimura

The soon to be published WiK novelist, Marianne Kimura

My big news is that my second novel, The Hamlet Paradigm, will be published in print form by a small, independent, niche publisher based in Hong Kong called Custom Book Publishing. They spotted my manuscript on the middleman website called Publishersdesk.com (which I found out about when I attended the wonderful Japan Writer’s Conference in Kobe last fall) and contacted me about it and I signed a contract and so it looks like it is to be released this September. Needless to say, I’m very excited about it and I really never expected it. I had really totally given up on ever finding a publisher, but it is one of those things, I suppose, like watching the proverbial pot boil…..It won’t happen unless you have taken your attention off it for a while!

I am also working on my third novel and though I have just started it, I can already see which direction it’s going to go. What I am noticing is that with each novel, the ghostly, other-worldly elements become more and more central and take more and more space. So in the first novel (Juliet is the Sun), a ghost was merely visiting the heroine for light banter and dropping silly clues, but in the second one (The Hamlet Paradigm) part of the main action transpires in the other world (the spirit world, which I drew as a forest with a weird castle in its heart). But in the third one, which doesn’t have a title yet, by the way, the whole story occurs in this next-door world although part of the story will take place in a spirit-created facsimile of our real world (which will look a lot like 15th century Kyoto, incidentally).

I am not sure why I’m becoming pulled, artistically speaking, to the spirit world. I am not a medium (as far as I know) and I’m not particularly religious or gifted with special powers. I just find it a fascinating place to imagine and conjure up, and a writer has to go where her attention is directing her to go, so I feel like it’s not really up to my conscious self, but more like my subconscious self. Ultimately, I’m fascinated by the element of “non-materiality” that must define the spirit world. If you think about it, words, paper, books, etc. are essentially material, right? So how can we use what is material to describe the non-material? That is what draws me to the topic, plus the elements of fantasy, of course. Because since we (at least I) don’t know what the spirit world is like, well, it’s possible to make up anything, then, isn’t it? Have I confused you enough? (All I can say is, please wait for my third novel to explain it all).

Of course, I’m still fascinated by Shakespeare and the sun as well so I plan to use these elements, but in some sort of disguised way. I use my academic research in my fiction always, but now I want to do so in a more obscure way. It’s just more fun that way, of course, to go underground with it…

The Hamlet Paradigm is a thriller, by the way. An astronomer uncovers a horrible secret and soon, because of this knowledge, he is targeted by the bad guys. The astronomer and his wife, plus their small son, must flee into the remote mountains of Iga (where ninjas used to train) in order to escape from danger. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from The Hamlet Paradigm:

 


 

The old plastic bucket was full of water from the river. The water caught the light in an odd way. Something about the color of the water did not look right. A face wavered in the surface of the water, like a reflection, but it was not my reflection. I stared. It was fascinating. The face of the ghostly Orsino appeared. I had never had any contact with him before while I was awake. This was a triumphant moment! My heart filled with joy to see him. I looked at his face as intently as I could, and I tried to smile and catch his eye. Could he see me? But he looked only somber. He closed his eyes and put his ghostly wrist to his forehead. His mouth was a frown. This was a tragic pose.

Why? Was this a mischievous joke? He opened his eyes and his mouth formed a word. And again, and again, and again. The same word. It was easy enough– it was shocking enough – to read his lips.

The silence of the room only made the word echo louder in my mind. The word was as unmistakable as it was terrifying.
‘Run’.
‘Run’.
‘Run’.
The water rippled slightly and the reflection quickly disappeared in the water, as if a switch had turned it off. The water in the bucket was now still and colorless again.
I can be slow and realizations can dawn on me only after time has passed. I’m not naturally quick. But the feeling of sudden nausea and rising panic in my stomach and throat was so overwhelming that I knew my cautious, fearful, brain was processing this message as fast as it could and, moreover, efficiently broadcasting the message to every cell in my body.

My ghost had found a way to warn me.
‘Run’.
But my legs felt as if they had turned to lead; my hands were numb.
‘Run’.

Fighting the sensations of nausea and paralysis, I focused on the small tasks at hand. I asked my brain simple, logical questions and the answers came back slowly but clearly, like obedient little doves returning from a long journey. The best way out? Through the back garden. What to bring? The flash disk with Vector’s files. What else? Something else? Yes. The fox mask! Now! Amazingly, my feet seemed to independently take these simple orders from my brain calmly. I walked over to Haruki’s backpack and retrieved the flash disk. I got my bag, with its long strap, and put the flash drive in it, then put the strap over my shoulder and diagonally around my body so I would be able to run.

I got the fox mask from the floor where Yuuki had been playing with it and shoved it into the bag. I picked up my shoes from in front of the front door and walked through the house to the back, where I slid open an old sliding glass door. The frame was made of wood which had warped a bit over the years of neglect, but I heaved it enough to slip through the opening, put my loafers on and ran through the tangled overgrown garden. Loafers weren’t the ideal running shoe at all, but that was all I had. I waited behind a bush for a second. I wanted to listen carefully to each sound I could hear. Especially, of course, I needed to listen for the sound of a car. I knew they would come in a car. One thing I had learned all these years was that only Haruki and I were crazy enough to walk everywhere.
Nothing. Not yet. Soon?
I would be gone by the time they got here. I would have to be. I decided to avoid the road as much as possible by going into the forest and finding the path to Muroji. I thought I knew vaguely where it was.

WW1 Commemoration Readings

 

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson at The Gnome Irish Pub, July 1 2016. About 25 people gathered to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and to remember the sacrifices of WW1. Mark read poems from Thomas Hardy’s ‘Moments of Vision’, pub. 1917

The Writers in Kyoto commemoration of WW1 was timed to coincide with the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916. The event proved hugely entertaining and a worthy way to remember the nightmare undergone 100 years ago. There were recitals, family reminiscences, articles and letters from the period. We tried to be as inclusive as possible, with various angles such as Japanese nurses sent to help with the casualties, an Irish song, the African-American involvement, the female angle, the Canadians and a mention at least for the Australian Aborigines who took part in the war. A huge thanks to Felicity Greenland for adding to the occasion by putting together a couple of splendid medleys of war songs and for leading the singing in such fine manner (and an homily to preserving the records of ordinary folks as a way to never forget). Finally, many thanks to Eric Johnston whose idea the whole thing was and without whom it would never have taken place.

Here’s the programme:

Ist session:
John D. (brief introduction)
Lawrence Barrow (Wilfred Owen)
Mark Richardson (Thomas Hardy)
Araki sensei and Paul Carty (Japanese nurses)
Ken Rodgers (maternal grandfather’s personal account)
Preston Houser (Frank Scott, Villanelle)
Felicity Greenland: singalong medley of WW1 songs

2nd session: 8.30-9.00
Felicity Greenland (song: Willie MacBride)
Gordon Maclaren (John McCrae/Canadian involvement)
Bridget Scott (Vera Brittain)
Preston Houser: (Dylan Thomas)
Kev Ramsden (African-American involvement)
Eric Johnston (US politician/Brit journalist)
John D. (Siegfried Sassoon)
Felicity Greenland: singalong medley of WW1 songs

Here’s the opening address (by John Dougill):

On this day 100 years ago, the Battle of the Somme broke out with a massive bombardment by Allied Forces against the enemy, who dug in and largely survived.  As a result some 20,000 Allied troops were mown down in their ‘over the top’ attack on the opening day alone.  The battle lasted nearly five months, by which time the Allies had advanced just five miles.  Those five miles of mud and blood-splattered fields cost half a million deaths on both sides – one million in all.  The battle has since become a symbol of the horrors of warfare, and in particular trench warfare abetted by the products of civilisation – machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons.  ‘Lions led by donkeys’ is the phrase often used to describe the mix of frontline bravery in contrast to the ineptitude of generals, politicians and clergymen who urged them on from the backlines.

Lest we forget, the Allies in the war were Gt Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan, with the USA joining from late 1917.  Against them were ranged the Central Powers, consisting of Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

The Somme was simply one battle in a war that had begun in late June 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Bosnia.  Four years later, 9 million soldiers had been killed along with 21 million wounded and a further 10 million civilian casualties. The scale and statistics are mind-numbing.  Germany and France for instance sent 80% of young males aged between 15 and 49 to the battlefield – 80%. The eagerness with which the war was embraced by patriotic youth is another striking phenomenon, with many lying about their age in order to volunteer.  The youngest authenticated casualty was a lad from Lancashire who was aged just 12.

We’re gathered here tonight to commemorate those who died, to honour their sacrifice, to never forget, and to give gratitude that our generation has never had to face anything of that kind.  Most of all, as writers we’d like to show our appreciation of the remarkable poetry and other inspirational writings that came out of that great nightmare we call WW1.  And in that spirit, I’d like to call on Lawrence Barrow to recite to us poems by one of the greatest of all the war poets, Wilfred Owen….

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DULCE ET DECORUM EST

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen
Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917  and March, 1918

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Bridget Scott, whose great aunts suffered personal losses in the Great War, reads from Vera Brittain’s touching poems. The writer whose experiences in the war turned her into a pacifist suffered the loss of both her brother and her fiance, as can be read about in Testament of Youth.

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Gordon Maclaren, a trained historian, gives an overview of the Canadian involvement in WW1, including the complicated situation with Quebec which still has repercussions today. He ended with a reading of the Canadian poet, John McCrae.

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Felicity Greenland led two wonderful singalongs of World War One medleys she had put together, which included old favourites and some that were new to many people. She also did a fine solo rendition of Willie MacBride, the song by Scottish folksinger Eric Bogle about the grave of a young Irishman he happened to chance upon .

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Ken Rodgers does a reading from his maternal grandfather’s diary about his firsthand experiences at the front, all the more moving for being so matter of fact. There was humour too in the unexpected appearance of Winston Churchill in French uniform.

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Paul Carty reads a translation done by Araki sensei (pictured stage right), who uncovered the little known story of Japanese nurses sent to help with the casualties in France. Their observations contained some wry comments on the differences between nationalities in the attitude to suffering.

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Kevin Ramsden enlivened the evening with an impassioned plea to remember the minorities involved in the war, since the images we are familiar with are all almost exclusively white. He talked in particular of African and African-American involvement, noting that the latter in particular excelled in bravery yet were despised at the time and subsequently overlooked.

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Eric Johnston, whose idea the whole event was, brought wartime copies of the Japan Times, from which he read an extract, together with the speech of an anti-war US Senator whose sterling words are sometimes still quoted in opposition to recent foreign adventures by the USA.

Writers in focus

Poems (James Woodham)

James WoodhamJames Woodham spent his first few years in Japan in a six-mat room in the grounds of a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, studying Japanese and writing poetry while working as little as possible. After a further ten years in the hills to the north, he moved to the wide open spaces of Shiga to bring up his kids. He is looking forward to retiring from a full time job at a Buddhist high school and spending his days writing and translating novels.


 Rainy Season

Emerging from sleep
on the Hankyu train,
platform a warm dream –

suddenly
to find oneself
inside a poem!

Under grey cloud
a spirit-lifting wind –
the imminence of rain.

Drink can gleams in a hedge,
the squeal of bicycle brakes,
leaves in the wind.

Ankle bracelet on a leg –
that golden skin,
fine down of hairs.

Following the ghosts
of beautiful girls
down under Umeda.

***************

voices of birds
coming through the rain
the garden listens

 

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Photo by John Dougill

Featured writing

Magazine news

KJ card 2

(From Ken Rodgers, KJ Managing Editor)

KJ 86, a Work in Progress…

Back when Kyoto Journal was a print publication, I used to describe it as the only quarterly that came out three times a year — and in these days of virtually instant digital publishing we still prioritize content over deadlines, and allow time for each issue to achieve critical mass. Each article is painstakingly prepared in collaboration with the author, and designed with unique style; we don’t rely on any one-size-fits-all templates. And since everyone involved in the process works on a voluntary basis, fitting KJ into their otherwise busy schedule, everything does take time. So yes, as usual our next issue is rapidly approaching due date, and is still in the layout stage, but here’s a rundown on what we’re looking forward to releasing:

Trevor Carolan interviews eminent poet and essayist Gary Snyder, now in his 86th year, about his latest book; “celebrity photographer” Russell Wong bids farewell to Tokyo’s iconic Hotel Okura; Egyptian poet Yahia Labadibi re-engages with the ancient art of aphorism; translator Cathy Hirano talks about translating children’s fiction (including Nahoko Uehashi’s popular Moribito series); David Billa shares insights into the current 2016 twelve-island Setouchi Triennale; Bill Clements profiles Dr. Nagai Takashi, author of The Bells of Nagasaki; Lucinda Cowing interviews Singapore-based designers Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai of Lanzavecchia + Wai, and Robert Fouser discovers a Japanese art renaissance in New York. Pedro Medeiros is one of only two photographers authorized to shoot Kyoto’s firelight Takigi Noh, for the first in a series of special articles on Noh by Toyoshima Mizuho; Elle Murrell interviews the founders of Miksang meditative photography, and Margaret Chula and Michael Dylan Welch meditate on haiku. Plus fiction from Taeyin ChoGlueck, and as always, much more…

KJ 86 is expected in late July, to be announced on our website [www.kyotojournal.org] (which is also being redesigned, another job that takes time…) and on KJ Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/kyoto.journal]

Meanwhile, here’s a preview review, in which I introduce our favorite publication. As far as I know, it always succeeds in coming out perfectly on time:

Sparking Illuminations

Manoa is a journal that’s much more than a magazine: every issue is an exuberantly oversized paperback slab of a book, packed with dazzlingly illuminative writings. Editors Frank Stewart and Pat Matsueda succeed brilliantly in providing curated insights, with the astute assistance of local guest editors and skilled translators, into non-Western (mostly Asian/Pacific) literature—and a welcome cultural antidote to the tropes of more familiar English-language publishing (see interview, “Revealing the Invisible” on KJ’s website).
starry
The very notable recent Starry Island, New Writing from Singapore (Manoa 26-2), guest-edited by Fiona Sze-Lorrain, showcases 30 delightfully contemporary writers from that “anomalous, confounding, and paradoxical society”—exploring unexpected interplays between past and present, particularly the vast environmental and social changes that have occurred through the island’s transition from its tiger-hunting colonial era to the concrete jungle of today’s sci-fi animatronic Asian Tiger financial hub, on the 50th anniversary of its separation from its short-lived union with the Federation of Malaysia. A valuable and eye-opening introduction to “Sing Lit,” this anthology is a party, a phantasmagorical post-modern salon which readers are privileged to gatecrash and to savor the sparkling conflagration of chance encounters that ensues among these authoritative authors. (Incidentally, a poem by featured writer Jerrold Yam, ‘Teahouse,’ appeared in KJ 84).

26. Things Out of Place
A flute in a trumpet case. Red wine on white linen. Sprays of heath in a blue bucket outside a Korean deli. A cheeky boy among mourners at a wake. A beautiful man married to a woman. A Singaporean in New York. The Singaporean in Singapore. The moon in a lake.

 

32. All Things
All things diminish as they grow older, a friend of many years said last week. Even the expanding universe must contract. This morning, as I am boiling water to make coffee, his words come back to me, as sure as before, but smaller, because the whistling of the kettle takes up space. The steam was not so long ago a patch of snow. Love is what life boils into.
(From The Pillow Book — Jee Leong Koh)

vagabondStory is a Vagabond (Manoa 27:1), guest-edited by Alok Bhalla, Asif Farrukhi, and Nishat Zaidi, is a timely collection of fiction, essays and drama by Intizar Husain, a leading Urdu writer from Uttar Pradesh who migrated (with some reluctance, it seems) to Lahore, Pakistan, at the time of Partition. While present-day Pakistan is notorious for fundamentalist cultural death squads, nationalist fanaticism and gender-gap extremism, Husain’s stories reach back to a deeper tradition of tolerance and mutual respect, within a literary history of shared sources, where vagabond tales passed between Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist societies in spiritual coexistence and even interdependence. Drawing upon sources “as diverse as the Panchtantra, Jataka Katha, Katha Sarit Sagara, Mahabharata and the Vedas,” and depicting characters who are often bewildered, dislocated and dispossessed, he consistently reveals, without resorting to polemics, the impact of losing the cultural diversity that so enriched pre-Partition India. In ‘Many Dreams Later’ he poignantly tells of a journey made late in his life, to revisit his childhood home—in a way that resonates perfectly with his fiction, he finds that it has changed irrevocably, beyond recognition. Intizar Husain died in February this year, in his early nineties, not long after this collection was published, leaving, most regrettably, no known literary heirs.

…Mahatma Buddha is a pure storyteller. He doesn’t use the stories to preach. His sermons are distinct. When he preaches, he preaches. When he tells a story, he’s a storyteller. There’s no confusion between the storyteller and the preacher. If some moral lesson emerges from the story, it is purely incidental. Mahatma Buddha is only telling a story from his previous birth, which in itself is a good story…
For example, there is the Jataka in which Mahatma Buddha is born as a king. The king has a daughter who is in love with a young man from her own family. She either elopes with him or is kidnapped by him. It is a matter of deep concern.
At the end of the Buddha’s story, the bhikshus say, “It is strange for a king’s daughter to elope or be kidnapped.”
“Do you know who that king was? It was I.”
“It was you, Tathagata? It was your daughter who eloped with someone? What happened next?”
“Nothing. I gently called both of them back. Got them married. Handed over the kingdom to them. Then I gave up that life, was reborn as a partridge, and flew away.”
I feel as if Mahatma Buddha is telling the story especially to me. As if he’s asking me, What is this nonsense about honour killings in your country? Look at how I solved the problem.
(From ‘The Reason and Purpose of the Jataka Stories’; translation by Nisaht Zaidi and Alok Bhalla).

The series’ most recent issue, The Colors of Dawn: Twentieth-Century Korean Poetry (Manoa 27-2), was guest-edited by translator Brother Anthony of Taizé (another KJ contributor) and Chung Eun-Gwi. It’s essentially a reasoned catalog of the (mostly male) modern poets of South Korea, set against the tumultuous changes that have wrenched the country’s psyche since 1910, including annexation by Japan, the Korean War, postwar dictatorships, the struggle to achieve democracy, and to achieve economic stability. Notably, the collection opens with contemporary poets, who paradoxically provide context for their predecessors. Throughout, one is in awe of the way that political and social commentary is integral to the poets’ perceived role — Kim Chi-Ha’s epic ‘Five Bandits’ (on the exploits of ConglomerApe, AssemblyMutt, TopCivilSerpent, General-in-Chimp, and HighMinisCur) is a gloriously outspoken example— but so often necessarily distilled into forms that read ostensibly as purely personal (yet still powerful) observations, to be decoded by readers who understand their deeper references in context. Many poets were suppressed, executed or disappeared; one can only admire and respect those who stubbornly continued to speak their minds. Their work continues to illuminate, even in translation.

Love’s Invention

If after living, trying to live, I find I can live no more,
I’ll dig a hole in a deserted hillside, slip into it,
and stop eating, you said.

As if you would stand up and set off for the hills at once
if the nation were not at your side,
like someone wrenching out his heart and holding it,
drunk, you said.

Amazed, like lightning,
like lightning, I was obliged to invent love in a flash.

—Lee Yeong–Gwang; trans. Brother Anthony of Taizé

Meanwhile, Manoa’s managing editor Pat Matsueda recently co-edited Ms Aligned: Women Writing About Men—another anthology that may also be illuminating.

—Ken Rodgers

dawn

WiK Anthology launch party

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A convivial round table talk and discussion, with the spotlight falling on Eric Johnston (third left), who steered the anthology through the production process at very little cost to WiK. A triple toast of thanks to him!

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David Duff, posing as poster boy for WiK’s very first anthology.

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As the evening wore on, there was animated talk between different groups and folk who had never met before…

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A great setting for a large group, with space and good service. Cafe Maaru, near Gojo Kawaramachi.

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Peter Mallett, winner of WiK’s first writing competition, came all the way from Kobe to collect his copy of the anthology.

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Pray silence for chief editor, and the man responsible for the successful launch of the anthology, Eric Johnston….

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Food, drink and bonhomie.

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In the foreground Jeff Robbins, Basho expert and WiK resident of Fukuoka, looks over the contents of the Anthology. Eleven different contributors in all, with work ranging from contemporary poetry to whimsical fiction.

 

The first WiK anthology has now been successfully launched.  Every WiK member will receive a free washi-covered copy, and other copies are being sent out to publishers, media outlets and people of significance in the literary world.  For those in Kyoto there are free copies in Maruzen, so if you would like to obtain one please look out for them when perusing the English book section.

The editors were most pleased with the quality of the contributions, and these were complemented by the line drawings of Oxford artist, Wendy Skinner-Smith.  The content (48 pages in all) is surprisingly varied, covering a range of fiction and non-fiction interspersed with poetry and whimsy.  We are very keen to get feedback, and hope to build on this pioneering project in the future.  We’ll be discussing in the autumn which direction to move in future, particularly in terms of ISBN, amazon, ebook, online publication and POD, etc. For the moment, should anyone have suggestions about how to further publicise or distribute the present anthology, please pass along your ideas.  And should anyone wish to be involved with the next anthology, please get in touch with John Dougill or other members of WiK.

The contents of the first WiK anthology are as follows:

Poems by Mark Richardson
The Oiwa Mystery by John Dougill
The Adventures of Inspector Ashidori by H.L. Stone
Musings by A.J. Dickinson
Juliet is the Sun by Genma Nishiyama
That Most Metaphysical of Objects by Allen Weiss
Kimono Memories by Peter Jonathan Mallett
The Island of Serow by Amy Chavez
The Perfect Sento by Chris Rowthorn
Japanese Pottery 101 by Robert Yellin
It Ain’t No Yellow Fever by David Duff

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