December 14, 2008

Kusano Shinpei


Kusano Shinpei [Japan]
1903-1988

Kusano was born in Nagano in 1903, and at the age of 18 moved to Canton, China. It was there he graduated from Lingnan University, where he learned his English. The stay in China brought a closer relationship to Chinese literature than perhaps for any other Japanese poet, and Kusano drew upon Chinese words throughout his writing career. In 1935, he and friends founded the monthly magazine Rekitei (Historical Process), which grew eventually into a poetry group of over one thousand members.

He returned to Japan in 1939, but because of World War II, published very little new work until the late 1940s. Among his many works from 1948 to the time of his death were Botan En (1948, Peony Garden); Kowareta Orugan (1968, The Broken Organ); Zenten (1975, The Entire Firmament); Ken'kon (1979, Heaven and Earth); Unki (1980, Cloud Passage); Gengen (1981, Pitch Pitch); Genjō ((1982, Mysterious Lake); Mirai (1983, The Future); Genten (1984, Northern Frimament); Genkei (1985, Dreamscape); and Jimon Tamon (1986, Asking Myself/Asking Another). His collected writings appeared as Kusano Shinpei Zenshū in 1978-84.

Kusano became a very popular poet throughout Japan, and Japanese school children all knew his poems about frogs. He was a frequent talk show visitor, and the Royal family often sought him out for occasional poems.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Daihyaku Kaikyō (1928); Botan En (1948); Kowareta Orugan (1968); Zenten (1974); Ken'kon (1979); Unki (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1980); Gengen (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1981); Genjō (Toyko: Chikuma Shobō, 1982); Mirai (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1983); Genten (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1984); Kusano Shinpei Zenshū (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1978-1984); Genkei (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1985); Jimon Tamon (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1986).

BOOKS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Frogs & Others, trans. by Cid Corman (New York: Grossman, 1969); Asking Myself, Answering Myself, trans. by Cid Corman (New York: New Directions, 1984); Mt. Fuji—Selected Poems 1943-1985, trans. by Leith Morton (Rochester, Michigan: Katydid Books, 1991)

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