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Bathhouse and Other Tanka

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For many decades now, Tatsuhiko Ishii has turned the classical poetic form of the tanka into its own innovative contemporary tradition. What was originally a five line 5-7-5-7-7-syllable verse form Ishii writes in one line, constructing his poems out of sequential one-line tankas, as if Basho and Federico Garcia Lorca bathed together under the moon.

Bathhouse and Other Tanka is a sensuous, exhilarating new collection of poetry. In moving elegies to Yukio Mishima and Genji (the Shining Prince), tributes to Ezra Pound and Claude Lorrain, as well as to the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Mount Fuji, Ishii's poetry resonates with a mix of philosophical lyricism, inquisitive exuberance, and homoerotic desire. "The ocean plane shines in the sun," he writes in one poem in the aftermath of 9/11. "From now on every place will be a battlefield, sure."

Ishii pens songs of momentary love and flames of lust, of mankind's self-destruction and the self mirrored in the seven deadly sins. No other poet today can write about sniffing a young man in Tokyo or Tasmanian oysters like Ishii does with such majesty.

160 pages. Paperback.

About the Poet

Tatsuhiko Ishii, poet and essayist, was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1952. For much of his life, he worked as a journalist for one of Japan's largest newspapers and book publishers, The Asahi Shimbun, covering cultural affairs locally and abroad, while also working for their editorial, advertising, and production departments.

At age twenty he won the New Poet's Prize in Japan, and in 1997 he received an Asian Cultural Council grant to spend several months in the United States to research gay culture. Ishii has published a dozen collections of tanka since 1982, one edition of which appeared in France in 2012.

About the Translator

Hiroaki Sato is a translator of Japanese poetry and prose, classical and modern, who has won a PEN Translation Prize and two Japanese-U.S. Friendship Commission translation prizes. A newspaper and magazine columnist for forty years, particularly for The Japan Times, he is also a book reviewer and contributes essays to many publications. 

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