The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa

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On Sale 2020-08-11

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Winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation • The electrifying collected works of “one of the most innovative and prominent avant-garde poets in early twentieth-century Japan” (The New Yorker).
 
Translated by and with an introduction by Sawako Nakayasu

An important and daringly experimental voice in Tokyo’s avant-garde poetry scene, Chika Sagawa broke with the gender-bound traditions of Japanese poetry. Growing up in isolated rural Japan, Sagawa moved to Tokyo at seventeen, and begin publishing her work at eighteen.She was immediately recognized as a leading light of the male-dominated Japanese literary scene; her work combines striking, unique imagery with Western influences. The results are short, sharp, surreal poems about human fragility and the beauty of nature from Japan’s first female Modernist poet.
 
The Modern Library Torchbearers series features women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.

AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES • THE AWAKENING • THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY • THE HEADS OF CERBERUS • LADY AUDLEY’S SECRET • LOVE, ANGER, MADNESS • PASSING • THE RETURN OF THE SOLDIER • THERE IS CONFUSION • THE TRANSFORMATION OF PHILIP JETTAN • VILLETTE

Under the Cover

An excerpt from The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa

Black Air

In the distance, dusk cuts the tongue of the sun. 
Underwater, the cities of the sky quit their laughing. 

All shadows drop from the trees and gang up on me. Forests and windows go pale, like a woman. Night has spread completely.
The omnibus takes a flame aboard and traverses the park. 

At that point my emotions dance about the city 
Until they have driven out the grief. 


It Is Snowing

Upstairs from us, a grand ball! 

Devious angels dance in disorder, and out of their steps fall shards of deathly white snow. 

Death is among the holly leaves. Crawling quietly in the attic.
Gnawing at my finger. Anxiously. And then at midnight—it falls at the storefront of the glass shop, exposing its stark white back. 

Old love and time are buried, and the earth devours them. 


Green Flames

I first see them loudly approaching descending numerous green stairs pass by look away cram into a small space while gradually hardening into a mound their movement makes waves of light furrow through the wheat field a thick overflowing fluid makes it impossible to stir the woodlands larch with short hair snail that paints carefully a spider spins electric wires like a mist everything rotates from green to deeper green they are inside the milk bottle on the kitchen table are reflected crouching with their faces flattened sliding around an apple they seem to crumble as they block off shafts of light in the street a blind girl plays by ducking under the shadows of the sun’s rings. 

I hurry to shut the window danger has come right up to me a fire blazes outside the beautifully burning green flames spread high, circling the outskirts of the earth and in the end they dwindle, disappear as a single thin line of the horizon 

My weight takes leave of me takes me back to the depths of oblivion people are crazy here there is no point in feeling sorrow nor in speaking their eyes are dyed green believing grows uncertain and looking enrages me 

Who blindfolds me from behind? Shove me into sleep. 

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa

— Published by Modern Library —