Contemporary Poetry Discussion Group

This week we will be expanding our horizons and breaking out of our comfort zone by looking at Contemporary Japanese Poetry.

We have chosen two prose poem sequences by two Japanese women poets, Ayane Kawata and Chimako Tada, together with a very short introduction to modern and contemporary Japanese poetry by Eric Selland. All are from the Autumn 2004 special number of the American contemporary poetry magazine Aufgabe. The handouts can be found in the pigeonholes of the English department, just opposite Room 112.
Of course, we’re free to discuss whatever issues we wish regarding these poems, but if we’re stuck we could touch on the following points:
Translation
How do you feel about reading something (especially something like poetry) in translation? Is poetry what gets lost in translation, as Frost said, or can translated poetry serve as a stimulus of new forms and ideas for our poetry (such as sonnets or haiku)? What kinds of approaches to translating poetry are there and which do we prefer?
Prose Poetry 
What makes these prose poems poems, and where, if anywhere, can we draw the line between prose and poetry? How does the choice of writing these poems in prose alter and interact with their content? Why do you think they have chosen to write them in prose?
Japanese Women Writing Poetry
What, if anything, marks out these poems as being written by women? Is Selland’s distinction valid that Japanese contemporary poems written by women are often written in a ‘specifically feminine language rather than a high literary form’ (2nd page of the mini-essay)?
The Selland essay is meant as a general background introduction. If you wish to find more information on the poets themselves, please feel free to have a look at these links:
This week we are going to try out a new starting time: Thursday 14 June, 6pm, in Room 112 of the HUMSS Building, Whiteknights Campus.

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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